Imagine yourself in a large city. Crowds of people bustle around you, horns honk, exhaust fumes spew, dogs bark, and you are jostled by thousands rushing. Would you feel relaxed? Calm and at ease? Probably not. But what if you changed your perspective - literally - moving from the midst of the city to the highest floor of an office building. You're now hundreds of stories above the same crowded street. The people look like ants, the deafening city noise is merely a distant hum, and you stand alone in an empty room, with no one to push you. Does the crowd seem as big from up high? Without smelling the exhaust or hearing the horns, are you as stressed? Most likely the city now seems a world away. Perhaps it even appeals to you once you're able to gain some distance. Whether or not a crowded city street makes you anxious, seeing it from different locations certainly changes how you view it.
The same can be said for depression. Simply changing your perspective can give you a completely different view of the illness. Of course, depression makes it extremely difficult to put a positive spin on anything. But, with regular practice and diligent effort, it can be done!
Try this exercise when you're ready to change your perspective. To help you remember it, it is linked to a relatable analogy.
Try this technique: Zoom Out
Have you ever used a camera to zoom into a scene? Perhaps you're taking a picture of a friend and you want to get in a little closer without moving. Maybe you want a closeup view of a distant panorama. While you're zoomed in close, all you can see is a small chunk of a larger scene. But when you zoom out, suddenly the entire scene is in your view and you gain more perspective.
When you find yourself overwhelmed by your circumstances, try zooming out.
Here's how: Remember that depression can act as the zoom function on your camera. It forces you to focus on just one aspect of your life. Maybe you can only see all of your past mistakes, current failures, or other negatives. Sometimes your thoughts are centered on how bad your feel. When you find yourself dwelling on thoughts like these, refocus on the bigger picture.
Ask yourself questions to "zoom out" and change your perspective. Take a few quiet moments to ask yourself a question for every negative thought. When depression zooms in on your mistakes, list your accomplishments. When depression focuses on your saddest memories, search your past for happy ones. When depression forces you to think about what's going wrong, refocus on what's going right.
Zooming out takes practice, and sometimes, more than a little effort. Depression wants you to stay focused on what depresses you most, but don't let it!
Review this perspective changer often, and when you can, try it out. Remember that changing our way of thinking can be tough, but it can be done. You can do it!
My name is Rayna Battle and I suffer from Major Depression, Cyclothymia, and Generalized Anxiety. I am not a mental health professional. Instead, I am a fellow sufferer, researching and fighting to understand the illnesses that threaten our happiness.
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