Pessimism and Depression

Imagine you are a deer feeding on grass with all your fellow deer. You suddenly hear a sharp rustle in the bushes close by. All your friends expect the worst and run like hell, thinking ‘its better to be safe than sorry’ but you are optimistic and wait a while to see if it’s not just a big bird or something equally as harmless – this has indeed been the case quite a lot lately and you have gained an advantage over your pessimistic palls by saving energy and being able to get to the best grass while they are all gone with their tails between their legs. BUT NOT THIS TIME. Oh no. It’s a big cat and it’s coming straight for you and it’s moving far faster than your optimistic mind ever expected and you’re also moving much slower than your optimistic mind gave you credit for.
Well I’m sure you can now see that after a few million years of this scenario playing out, that all the optimistic deer end up in the bellies of lions and all the pessimistic deer end up passing-on their pessimistic genes to the next generation, hence the jumpy elusive nature deer have today.
There is, however, a twist to this tale and it’s this: in the fullness of time optimism proved to be too good to lose. Optimism and all that is associated with positive thinking had to find a way and eventually, after probably a very long time, the perfect solution was found in the shape of this bundle of hard wired involuntary reflexes we now call the Fight or Flight Reflex – that now only kick in ”’involuntarily”’ whenever danger or the threat of danger is realised.
Now if you haven’t already worked it out, here is why the FFR is so relevant to us who suffer from depression: as the human brain developed over time and became more and more sophisticated (and our lives too), the line between a legitimate source of danger and a non-legitimate source of danger became more and more vague. As a result, unfortunately for some of us with strong imaginations, even worrying about something too much can trick our deep subconscious into believing there is, in reality, a very real threat which consequently mechanically starts the FFR cogs rolling, filtering out our good, positive thoughts and feelings and heightening our negative, pessimistic ‘fight or flight’ mentality.
And there is still more: unlike a deer being chased by a lion or some one stumbling upon a poisonous snake or spider, our modern day worries or horrors are not all over in a few minuets or seconds. Consequently because we now spend so much more time in a state of anxious suspense, dread or frustration etc., our worrying creates more pessimism and more pessimism induces even more worry, resulting in more and more pessimism convincing you even more that your situation is totally hopeless and then you’re… TRAPPED.
The simple fact is, your subconscious mind is incapable of distinguishing between ANXIETY or FEAR induced by a sabre toothed tiger or the very real ANXIETY or FEAR induced by an unpaid bill,being intimidated by a parent or work colleague,loneliness etc. Worrying has however been proved to be a very good thing, in that it helps us find solutions to our problems by forcing us to focus intensely on our problem and it certainly helped me to persist with my need to find my way out of depression.
However if your worrying seems to have no basis and you can’t understand whey you consistently feel anxious and unsettled, then it would be helpful to continue reading.

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