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What did Depression Teach me?


If you haven't read about my journey with depression and suicidal thinking, you can read about it here. 

I'm open about my mental health struggles because they are a part of who I am. I don't want to hide who I am. I want to live with integrity and feel confident. Honesty, with boundaries, helps me get there.

If you know someone struggling with anxiety or depression, please share this with them and let me know, in the comments, which one of these insights stopped you in your tracks.

I am going to share some of the best tools I learned from the outpatient treatment program I attended in 2019. You don't have to be experiencing depression or anxiety in order to apply them. They are behavioral truths that can help you live a more productive life.

I want to underscore that these are the insights that work for me and are direct recommendations from a Master's level therapist. They are not intended to be a substitute for professional help. 


Here we go.

1. We learned the acronym, RED HOT. It was the foundation of the entire treatment process. It's a way to test if I am communicating with myself and others in a productive way. Am I being RED HOT?


R - Resilient (bouncing back)

E - Empathy (common feelings)

D - Determination (can't "hope" it's going to happen - see #11)


H - Humble (I don't have all the answers)

O - Open  (growth mindset)

T - Transparent (honest)


2. What will they think? are the four most devastating words in the English language. It was suggested that I say, "I don't care what they think. What do I think?" For those who know me, this question has become the singular most important question in my life.


3. When I am weighing the impact of a decision - lets say to stick with a certain thought loop playing in my head - it is important I play the tape both ways AND, that I play it all the way. 


4. Perfection only lives in the brain.


5. Anxiety is only anxiety if I am predicting negativity. Anxiety always has a negative outcome. Worry can exist without anxiety. A little anxiety can be excitement.


6. Practice makes progress.


7. Leg health and gut health are mental health.


8. One person in the group was struggling with the death of her brother. Our wonderful therapist explained, "Memories don't have a time stamp. The brain thinks it is happening now." Consequently, I don't need to think about the past because memories will automatically come. That's their job. She then said, "Your brother died once, not a hundred times." The candid nature of that remark was incredibly helpful and moving to me. It was RED HOT. Not only do I value and aspire to give kind, hard feedback, I also don’t want to torture myself with my thoughts. 


9. Practice being a fact checker. "What are the facts?" Facts get me out of thinking the worst.


10. A fixed mindset is where I fall. This was a big one for me because I always thought I had a growth mindset. Both are true. When I overthink, I'm in a fixed mindset. I'm literally stuck. 


11. Hope is from the past. It's not for the future. I build hope by looking at past successes.


12. When I say, "It's not a big deal," I bring shame on myself.


Which one of these insights stopped you in your tracks?

Share your answer below.


Much Love,

Sarah xxx


p.s. know someone who struggles with anxiety or depression? share this with them.