Ellen Langer

It rained for so many days in Provincetown the month of June that it felt like it was never going to end. Each day of showers felt so familiar that many of us forgot what it was like to be outside enjoying the sunshine. It made me think of what happens to those experiencing depression. Depression feels like it’s never going to end. In fact, some—perhaps many—depressed people believe they will always be depressed.

Rarely is anyone “always” depressed, but even if one were, never is the depression the same each day. If we took note, we’d see that there are many moments of nondepression and many moments when the depression is less worse than at other times. When we feel depressed we think about all the times we’ve felt this way, as if the feeling is always the same. When we’re just experiencing ourselves, we’re not evaluating how we feel.

So the upshot is we have a lot of “being depressed data” and no “not depressed data” about ourselves. The comparison makes the depression feel interminable. One solution is to keep a diary, so we’d see that there are many moments where we’re feeling good. If we did so, we would see that none of us is literally depressed all the time. Noticing when we’re not feeling bad would naturally lead us to ask why at times we feel bad and why we don’t now. Mindfully considering these questions should itself be engaging enough to erase many moments of the depression. It will also feel good just to see that we’re not depressed all the time.