Here it is Thursday and I am just beginning my post. No, I haven’t been goofing off. If you are looking for me, I will be parked in my purple chair for the day. I have spent the whole week working on my mental health speaking opportunity that I am looking forward to this Sunday night. If you are in the area, drop in.

Come as you are — no need to get all gussied up. Pajamas are clothes too. Just so you know, I am wearing a long shirt, leggings and phony Birkenstock’s.  I am even going to wear makeup IF I can talk myself into it. And earrings! And purple nail polish!

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Self-talk is an important component of my mental health plan. I devote much time and energy talking myself in and out of things. I will try to give you a few fictional examples:

EXAMPLE ONE

I stood in line at the grocery store checkout. In a split second, I made the judgement that “Maureen,” the cashier, was unfriendly.  I jumped to the conclusion that Maureen didn’t like me because I’m fat. Well, it’s none of her business if I weigh 100 pounds or 300 pounds. She doesn’t know me before so why would she dislike me?

The way this lady was feeling had absolutely nothing to do with me and, intellectually, I knew that.

On my way out of the store, I bumped into a friend  and said, “Hey, take it from me, stay away from the grumpy cashier at Checkout 5.” My friend knew Maureen and said I would be grumpy too in her circumstances.  Maureen’s husband Roy had recently been diagnosed with a rapidly progressing form of dementia and she has to move him to the nursing home next week. I had an opportunity to cheer up Maureen with a smile and a wish for a good day and I blew it.

It was not about me. Furthermore, it never was about me.

EXAMPLE TWO

“Michelle,” an acquaintance of mine, phoned and wanted to discuss something, but did not feel it was appropriate to speak over the phone. Michelle wanted to come to my house.  In a split second, I drew the conclusion that I must have done something to offend her and now she wanted to confront me about it. I searched as far back in my memory as I could, trying to uncover what it could possibly be. Had I slighted her some way? I didn’t think so.

Michelle arrived at my door and I invited her in. Before I could say a word, she burst out crying and collapsed into my arms. Good grief. What had I done now? As it turned out, I had done nothing.

Michelle  wanted to tell me her marriage was in trouble and she needed to confide in someone. Her daughters were siding with their dad and her sons were siding with her. Michelle’s parents thought she should stay with her husband, no matter what. Everyone was walking on eggshells. What was she going to do?

It was not about me. Furthermore, it never was about me.

EXAMPLE THREE

“Olivia,” a colleague of ten years, stopped talking to me. Most days, she sat in her office with the door closed A little voice in my head whispered, “Huh, who does she think she is? Does she think she is better that I am? Those Tremblays always looked down their noses at Roaches.

Well, if that’s the way she feels about me, that’s fine. I am not begging anyone to be my friend. How many times have I driven her to Tim Horton’s?  She can mooch off someone else.”

My conclusion could not have been more wrong. I found out from another colleague that Olivia’s hours were going to be cut in half and she didn’t know what to do. Should she look for a new job? Should she take two part-time jobs? Should she move into her parents’ basement? A wave of guilt washed over me.  I should have known better.

It was not about me. Furthermore, it never was about me.

I believe depression causes me to experience emotions too deeply. That means I am too sensitive. My feelings get hurt easily. I read too much negativity into a facial expression or remark. I feel the best strategy for me is self-talk. 99.9% or even 100% of the time, the comment or frown have absolutely nothing to do with me.

I suppose Sunday night is about me. I would love to spend it with you. I have a number of resources you can take home that may help you or someone you know in the days ahead. There’s food too!

Just in case you are worried, the church has been standing there since the 1800s and it is not going to fall down if you pass through its doors.