You Have Chosen Wisely

You Have Chosen Wisely

Remember that scene from the Indiana Jones movie when Indy has to choose which chalice was the real Holy Grail at the risk of his and his father’s life? Talk about your pressure situations! Of course, Indy has this great sense of what to do and somehow it always seems to be the best choice. I wish I had that ability. Then again, I don’t have Steven Spielberg writing the script for my life either!

The subject of the choices we make is of special interest to me as a therapist and I want to share with you something that I have observed in my clients and frankly, in myself.  I see many people who suffer from varying degrees of depression. One of the things I always ask these clients is “What are you doing to take care of yourself?” because you know how much I believe in the value of self-care and self-responsibility. Interestingly what I get when I ask this question is almost always that they are not doing anything to take care of themselves and in fact the choices they are making often exacerbate versus alleviate the problem.

What I think is this. I think when we are depressed we are in some ways impaired. By impaired I mean that our otherwise reasonable and healthy process for making decisions is misfiring some. And like impairment from the overuse of strong drink, sometimes what seems like a pretty darn reasonable course of action is anything but reasonable. This is when I see depressed people staying in bed all day or overeating or overdrinking. I see them isolate themselves from concerned loved ones, listen to sad music, and avoid exercise and the sunshine at all costs. It seems the depressed brain is able to convince us that these are okay choices, wise or right choices, or that we don’t really have any other choices.

Don’t get me wrong. A day in bed with a bag of chips may be just fine for the blues on occasion but as a general course of action, I find my impaired, depressed instincts to not only be not so great choices but often the exact opposite of helpful choices. What I wish I could say to those of you who suffer some from depression is to not do those things but we both know it’s just not that easy. I am going to ask you to try to question yourself some and at least give the unimpaired parts of your brain the chance to have a voice in the decision. Ask yourself, “Is this thing I have a strong urge to do going to help my battle against depression or is it going to help my depression’s battle against me?” I think if you can dig inside some and do this little sequence of self-talk you may have a bit more muscle when the time comes to “choose wisely”.