One of the (many) things I’m working on is checking myself on my thought gremlins – depression-related misinterpretations of things happening around me. Not stopping the misinterpretations (I’m nowhere close to being ready for that yet), but noticing them for what they are.
This past weekend I was exchanging emails with someone in my life who I consider “safe“, and helping him out with a course he’s taking. At a couple of different points during those exchanges, I felt really hurt. Thoughts started running through my head: he’s just using me, he’s taking advantage of me, he doesn’t care about me at all, he’s judging me, I can’t trust people, I can’t deal with people, etc, etc. The reasonable part of my brain knows none of those things are true, but the thoughts kept going full steam ahead.
So I tried to sit with them. I did a guided meditation on emotions in mindful communication. I cried for a while. I thought about how hard it’s been to find any hope for the future. After a good chunk of time wallowing in miserableness, I thought about whether he would have wanted me to feel this way, or how he would react if he knew how I was feeling. Whether my thoughts were consistent with the gratitude he frequently expressed and the regular check-ins to see if I felt pressured into helping him. Whether he did anything “wrong”, or if this was all me.
The only conclusion I could come to was that yes, it was all me. He did nothing wrong; I misinterpreted based on what’s going on inside of me. I needed to take ownership of my own thoughts and feelings, and not project blame onto him. It didn’t make the gremlins go away, but it meant I saw them for what they were. I’m proud of myself for that. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I deserve to give myself credit along the way. And maybe the next time I misinterpret, the wallowing period will be ever so slightly shorter before I’m able to start to rein in those thought gremlins.