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How To Stay Positive (Even When You’re Struggling With Depression)

Optimism

“Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.” ~Māori Proverb

Depressing, isn’t it?

Struggling to get out of bed every day—but you can’t.

All you need to do is turn off your alarm, get up, and go on with the day. Instead, you hide under your covers, avoiding life. You’ve lost jobs, friends, and a whole more—but still, you can’t make yourself do it.

All you want to be is normal. To live without the huge emotions and downward spirals.

I once felt this way, too. Diagnosed with severe depression and borderline personality disorder when I was young, getting out of bed was brutal.

Part of what makes depression so, well, depressing, is the crushing weight of pessimism holding your head under water. Pessimism makes it easy to believe that nothing will work out, and everything is pointless.

What a terrible way to live life.

On the flip side, an optimistic life is about believing in the best, through the worst.

Were you raised to be an optimist or pessimist?

I was raised an optimist. Believe in people, hard work pays off, things will get better…the usual. As a slightly nerdy and completely gawky teen, life sucked. Classmate cruelty was an unavoidable part of life. Those years were painful. It was mind-boggling how mean, how pessimistic, people could be. 

My mother, a textbook optimist, trotted out the usual lines:

“It’s not you; it’s them.”

“They’re just jealous.”

“It’ll get better. Just wait.”

It didn’t get better. It got progressively worse as I entered early adulthood. I hid behind alcohol and drugs to numb the pain of feeling.

Involving myself with bad people (you know, the kind you hope your kids never meet) made me feel strong.

For the depressed optimist, pessimism offers a heady feeling of power.

Or, maybe that was the drugs and alcohol talking. Eventually, life overwhelmed me, and it was time to end it.

What was the final straw? The simplest, funny-yet-sad answer is the movie Groundhog Day, and the thought of waking up, over and over again, to a never-ending cycle of anger, hurt, and pain.

So I tried to kill myself. Once, twice, three times. The third time was not a charm. (I’m still here, obviously.)

Fast-forward a year, and while I was officially “in recovery,” I was far from feelings of peace and contentment. I was, however, something else:

Pregnant.

A wise therapist once told me my depression stemmed from my life choices and environment, not chemical imbalances. Fix the choices, fix the environment, and you’ll fix the depression.

Not ready to hear that it was my job to fix my depression, I sought out a new therapist.

Still, I was told my pregnancy would go one of two ways: Either I would be completely “cured,” or my depression would quickly get worse.

If the latter occurred, it was unlikely I’d be able to care for my child.

I Had A Choice To Make

Right then, right there, I had a choice to make: Let life lead me, or lead my life.

Reread that last line.

That’s the reason we need to work our tails off to be, and to raise, optimists: Because a pessimist would never have seen a choice.

If my parents had been pessimists and expected the worst, I wouldn’t be here today. If my parents had been pessimists, they would have given up on me; in turn, I would have given up on myself. But as optimists, they had faith that I would learn, grow, and recover. 

As optimists, they didn’t have any other choice.  Neither did I. And that, I realized, was an attitude I wanted to pass on to my child.

I wanted her to be a fighter, to always look for the best in others, to fall down and get back up again—and again, and again.

I decided to be an optimist not just for myself, but for my child.

It’s a struggle to stay positive, and pessimism desperately wants to be BFFs. My negative alter-ego is always sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, “Isn’t life unfair?”

The thing is, life can seem unfair. But life got so much easier, and happier, when I learned how to overcome negative thoughts.

Let’s talk about seven useful ways to live life positively:

1. Ditch the following phrases:

“It figures,” “Isn’t that just my luck,” “It would only happen to me,” and, “I just can’t catch a break.” Words that make you a victim also make you a pessimist. Stop using them.

2. Flip the switch on negativity.

The violent television shows and the funny-but-mean viral videos. Negativity is an insidious disease, and it spreads through seemingly harmless mediums. Turn it off.

3. Refuse to be misery’s companion.

Gently, but firmly, tell your partner/mother/best friend/colleague that you can’t participate in their pity party. Empathy and compassion are important, but learn how to deal with difficult people.

Living bitter-free is a skill. Learn to acknowledge and explore feelings of negativity, but don’t dwell on them. Turn them around, taste them, and set them free.

4. Turn disappointment on its head.

When you’ve had a disappointment or failure, go ahead and finish something (anything). Complete a task that’s been on your to-do list.

When I experience a work disappointment, the first thing I do is complete another project. It forces your head and heart to change gears, and it will point you in a more positive, mindful direction.

5. Thank your lucky stars.

When you start to get stressed and depressed, stop and say “thank you.” To anything. Thank your house, for providing warmth and four walls. Thank your car, for continuing to start (most mornings, anyway). Thank your job, even if you hate it, because it keeps you clothed and fed.

Don’t give up on achieving more, but get in the habit of acknowledging life’s little achievements. You’re luckier than you think.

6. Make someone smile.

Buy a coffee for the person next in line, hold the door with a smile, compliment a fellow shopper on their outfit, or buy a balloon and ask the cashier to deliver it anonymously to the next kid who gets in line.

Pay it forward. (Careful, it’s addicting!)

Living An Optimistic Life Takes Effort

Slip-ups are common. Complaining is just so much easier than working to be happy.

Your history plays a huge role in how you view life. Think about your parents. Did life beat them down? Did they warn you to look out for yourself because no one else will?

Your parents were trying, in their own way, to teach you about optimism and pessimism.

But, you can’t just accept life; you have to intentionally live it.

Fight For The Good Life, Every Day

When you juggle work, home, and life, just maintaining the status quo becomes a feat of endurance. It’s often an accomplishment to get through the day. There’s no time left to work on you. But that’s just an excuse.

You have to make time to for good. Find it in every person, in every situation.

You have to fight for the light at the end of the tunnel.

If I weren’t a fighter, I wouldn’t be here today.

At the end of the day, it’s about believing in the power of good, not bad. It’s about turning off the negativity, whether it flows from your mind, your partner, or your TV.

It’s about saying no to pessimism and yes to optimism.

To be an optimist, you can’t let life get in your way.

Optimism image via Shutterstock

About Ashley Trexler

Ashley Trexler loves honest talk about parenting and life choices. She blogs about the good, the bad, and the funny at LiesAboutParenting.com. She is known for debunking popular parenting advice that just doesn’t work, and is a passionate believer that clean homes create clean minds. She’ll consider herself a parenting success if she can, somehow, manage to raise kind and compassionate kids.

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  • Hey Ashley,

    To get rid of depression it us definitely a big shift in your thinking. when times get tough for a lot of people they tend to automatically look for negative proof in the past and look for what else to go wrong in the future .

    to change your thinking you have to make some changes to you life. You may have to change the friends you hang around the most, the negative TV shows or movies you constantly watch, the music that give you those negative thoughts, etc..

    One thing I do to get balance is to live in the moment, turning my focus from the past and future. Living for that minute, that second starts the process for me to be happy. I see this in children a lot! Who’s say that we can’t learn anything from kids 😉

    Thanks for sharing these tips Ashley! You have a great rest of the week!

  • Bullyinglte

    Living an optimistic life is such an understatement. I didn’t want to face my past or let go, learn to be mindful, and live in the present. So depression hit me like a ton of bricks one day. You are not your mind and your mind has two levels, the Child Mind and the Adult Mind. Most of our depressions are when we revert back to our illogical Child Mind that doesn’t want to listen. But as I (and I know you) have learned, you must stop listening to the Child Mind and start the long process of doing the opposite in many cases of what your brain is telling you to do.

    It is then that your Adult Mind will learn to take over again, as you practice doing things you don’t want to do. For me that was going to the Gym daily, changing my eating habits to eat healthier, stop overgeneralizing everything, and the hardest of all, to stop being a perfectionist and beating myself up. Then somehow (and it did take about two years), I felt all better, but also know, like an alcoholic, that every day is a new day and one that I now have to guard against allowing my Child Mind to take over again.

  • Linda VanDeusen

    Hi Ashley. I really enjoyed your post. I also have major depression/anxiety/social anxiety/co-dependency/bipolar and probably much more. Once in a great while I will get an “up mood” (the kind that “normal” people feel most of the time..happy, energetic, optimistic, etc). I found that I’m actually afraid to feel that way. I’m so used to the depression and anxiety I think I’ve forgotten how to be happy. My meds have been adjusted/added, etc. and it does seem to be working. Now I just need to work on me. Thanks for such an honest and open post. Blessings to you.

  • Carrie

    “Tiny Buddha,” please decide what message you want to send to depressed people, and those that care about them. An excerpt from the post, before this one, on my (Facebook) news feed (“How to Be a Good Friend to Someone Who Is Depressed.”):

    “Don’t offer platitudes.

    We all do it. Times get tough and the first thing we do is reach for the quotes and platitudes that we think will help the most. But these can seem like throwaway comments with no real meaning behind them. Telling a severely depressed person to “be positive” is like telling someone with cancer to “get over it.”

    Words like this will do nothing but infuriate your friend and lead to shame and guilt about their inability to get better by themselves.

    Don’t try and fix that person. Allow them to feel whatever it is they need to feel. If they need to get angry about a situation, don’t tell them “anger solves nothing.” Tell them to feel it and get it out of their system”

    So, just wondering…should we support depressed people, and “not offer platitudes,” as in the first article? Or, should we…”Gently, but firmly, tell your partner/mother/best friend/colleague that you can’t participate in their pity party.”…and read an article about difficult people to learn how to help ourselves around them? Is depression a chemical imbalance, or a choice that we can just positively think ourselves out of?

  • mae

    What a fab peice. Well written and sums it up perfectly. I was in the same situation and this resonated nicely. Thank you, I hope that others discover this too. 🙂

  • Ashley Trexler

    Hi Carrie. Thanks for your insight. The “pity party” refers to the people around those that are depressed, or recovering. The other article you quote seems spot-on, to me, at least. As someone who has had major depressive episodes, platitudes don’t help. This article is more about focusing on what the recovering individual can do to remain in a positive place.

    And regarding chemical imbalance, I can’t speak for Tiny Buddha’s official stance, but I do believe in chemical imbalances. However, I don’t think the majority of depressives suffer from chemical imbalances. I think we suffer from environmental depression, which can lead to chemical imbalance.

    I have to say, I was really, really, really against this belief for most of my years as a depressive. My family, my therapists (except for the one mentioned in this article), and myself all believed I couldn’t help myself with medications and therapy. To some extent they were right – I was incapable of helping myself. The medications were supposed to make things right…but how can medications fix my environment? Once my environment improved, my depression improved.

    Again, my personal experience only. I hope you found some satisfaction in this post, and thanks for commenting.

  • Ashley Trexler

    Linda,
    Thank you for the kind words and I can COMPLETELY relate to where you are. I was, for about 3 years, diagnosed with Type II Bipolar disorder, in addition to all the other diagnosis you mention. I fit all the criteria, for all of them, but the medications never helped…again, it was my life choices and environment, not my brain, that was the problem. I binged, then was crazy productive, then crashed again…but improving my environment is what helped, in the end. Cutting out unhealthy people, demanding from my loved ones what I knew I needed in my life, and returning to optimism were, for me, necessary. I hope you can find what you need.

  • Ashley Trexler

    Sherman, well said! Thank you. And yes, there is so much we can learn from children – starting with how to live in the moment! Enjoy your week, as well, and thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Ashley Trexler

    My reply disappeared! My apologies. Thanks for your comment. I understand what you mean when saying optimism is an understatement. But, everyone looks inspects their emotions differently, I think. The Adult Mind and Child Mind is a wonderful, helpful way to view your thoughts and desires. Thanks for mentioning it!

  • Carrie

    I feel like articles about serious subjects, like depression, that are written as opinion, are dangerous. People out here, with severe mental disorders, need to be directed to professionals, not told to “think positive.” You obviously did not suffer from an actual disease. I feel like the title of your article is misleading. A title indicating that the article is about lifting yourself out of sadness, would be more accurate. While you are entitled to your opinions and sharing helpful tips, I think that advice regarding depression, should be written by health care professionals, not realtors. I subscribed to Tiny Buddha, because I like the posts regarding spirituality. Advising a clinically depressed person on ways to, essentially, “snap out of it, cause I did,” is beyond irresponsible. Am now “unliking” TB.

  • Ashley Trexler

    I can certainly see what you’re saying, but this article is not about “snapping out of it”, by any means. Three severe suicide attempts will tell you I was pretty serious about my depression, if you need me to “prove” it to you, as you seem to suggest by saying I was just “sad”. I’ve been diagnosed with manic depression, Type II Bipolar, and more – so please don’t suggest that my depression is somehow less because I figured out how to make myself happy. I would never, ever try to negate the severity of someone else’s depression. But, these are my experiences, and tips that helped me. Overcoming negative thoughts takes a huge amount of effort, daily. Realtor or not, I worked my tail off to improve my situation, once I realized where (and what) I needed to focus on. And it’s a shame that you don’t see the value in real-life experience. I’m sorry to see you’re leaving the TB community over this, but I’d like to think more people will find the positive in this article than searching for the negative. Best wishes to you.

  • Ashley Trexler

    Thank you, Mae!

  • Bullyinglte

    You hit the nail on the head exactly. My personality type and my emotional habits (and habits are hard to break once established) did not allow me to accept my recovery solutions until I changed my emotional state. It is truly amazing and I usually don’t push books, but Dr. David Burns explains many of these twisted ways of thinking and solutions to them in his book, “Feeling Good”. It is not a cure all, but just another in a long line of solutions that help us to be more aware of our own emotional selves and where we can make improvements.

  • Ro Aroha

    Thank you for sharing this article. It made me feel jauntier, just by reading it. Good things to remember in there. I am going to work on catching myself when I think and/say those kinds of phrases you mention because I know I do this at times. It is self-victimising. Best wishes.

  • Hi Ashley, as an almost perpetual optimist…I once experienced mild depression which turned out to be the result of an over functioning thyroid..I honestly can’t speak to deep seated, long suffering depression at all, so I won’t!

    However, the fact that you have dealt with and are managing what, to a layperson like me, seems like a pretty serious case of depression and are willingly sharing the experiences and techniques that supported you in the hope that they might be helpful to others I find encouraging and inspiring.

    Bravo for a well written and hopeful article. I truly enjoyed it.

  • Stacy

    Thanks for sharing and being so vulnerable! I think we can all learn from your tips on seeing things from a different perspective. As for the negative comments on this thread…you just poured your heart out & I would assume that others dealing with depression would have compassion and not resort to belittling you. We should be here to cheer each other on…as we never truly know the road someone else has traveled.

  • Hookchick

    I think I’ve been depressed my whole life, but I just kind of muddled through it. Then after a bad breakup of a long relationship two years ago I knew I had to do something or I’d become suicidal. I do a lot of reading about happiness and thinking positive, and I try really hard, but it still feels like it takes a CONSTANT, conscious (exhausting) effort not to sink into a dark place. Does it ever get easier?

  • Karen

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, so many things you have written are so familiar. Those of us who suffer from depression often think we are the only ones feeling the pain, the fear. It’s words like you have spoken that help us think ahead to better days.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I always had a bad relationship with my parents, believing they were the embodiment of pessimism. After reading this article and looking back, they too were optimists in their own way. They fought the good fight in their own way. They made the choice to make the effort in their own way. It’s helping me realize I have to find my own way too. <3

  • Julie Aiken

    Thanks for the honest article. I completely understand all of the negative or conflicted comments. There are many medical opinions about what causes depression and how to treat and/or cure it. I choose to believe it IS in my control, and that I can get better through my own efforts (with medical help). But it is tough! I highly recommend the book “Feeling Good” for some great techniques. Also, I know it’s hard to be completely consistent when discussing depression. I have a blog “Coping with Depression” and I often give conflicting tips, like cut your sugar AND have some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. LOL! Both are great pieces of advice! Thanks, again.

  • Wonderful + practical tips for dealing with depression, Ashely. At the end of the day, you have your attitude about your psychological pain, and that attitude determines whether you look at options for feeling better, or remain stuck with psychological pain. Mental wellness is a choice + a fight. For everyone.

  • Talya Price

    Ashley. Thank you so very much for writing this. As many of you up here know, I am struggling to cope with life, everyday is a battle and I know it should not be and I am trying very hard to cope with everything that life throws at me. I have never been this low before in my life. It’s scary. I have contemplated suicide and attempted 3 times.

    I have problems getting out of bed. I am not on antidepressants. I am seeing a therapist. She is helping me. I know how difficult it is to remain positive when you are going through depression. I am doing the best that I can. I have no idea what will happen, if I will become homeless, sick, if I will find a job or finally leave Poland for good. I know that right now I am bankrupt but I am still going on with my life somehow.

    I really appreciate you sharing your story, because it is good to know that someone feels or have felt very similar to how I am feeling right now about life. Thank you Ashley, thank you very much. You have no idea how much you have helped me today.

  • Mark Tong

    Amazing honest and brave article! You are right – I NEVER watch violent/hurtful/negative anything, viral or not. Stick to your guns and good luck to you and your kids.

  • I love this article and what your therapist said. I think there is a lot of confusion around pregnancy, post-partum and depression. I, for one, was very hesitant to call myself depressed after I had children. I wouldn’t acknowledge it and I think a lot of women are the same, which only makes it worse. Sometimes you truly need help. I think I would have rather it been all chemical inbalance and nothing to do with who I was, as a person. After all that, it didn’t take drugs (although I’m sure a therapist would have helped) or medication to help me get through that tough time. It took learning to be happy in the present and upgrading my beliefs, to inspire me to look at my life, explore than express what I wanted. That was the magic behind my healing.

  • paris

    I dont hold on to the past…my moto..what will be will be…I believe the more pain trauma and hurt it impacts on you no matter how we try and brush it of..we all deal with difficulties differently in life…the more we try and deal with it..the worst it gets..if you have dealt with somthing for many many yrs…it leaves scars which we no scars leave marks…I dont think of my past to roar…try and deal with now..The key…try to never give up…

  • thales

    I always loved these kind of articles. They are so uplifting: this will help your depression. But it’s also quite frustrating. I have a great life, I’m an optimist and I have depression. Hm, that doesn’t seem to go together, but it does for me. On my dad’s side, almost everyone has gone through depression at some time in their life. My thought that meditation, yoga, healthy eating, exercise and being positive could fix it. And because of that, and articles like this, I thought I didn’t need medication. Every time I got past a bout of depression, I’d say: I’m better now. I have all these skills. And yet, with all the skills, I’d go tumbling back sown into depression -not wanting to leave bed for no reason, and having negative thoughts and feelings that we’re so completely not who I am. So for some people, depression IS a chemical imbalance. I wish that these articles started with: people are made differently, and this might help you, but it might not. if you are struggling with depression, go see a doctor. That disclaimer should not be at the bottom of the page. I am two different people on and off medication. And making these kinds of changes help, but aren’t the answer for everyone.

  • qeurich

    Depression like anxiety, and panic get treated as general disorders because that’s how the scientific approach works.

    When it comes to having these challenges though one size does not fit all!

    A platitude one day might piss off a depressed person, but on another day they could have a completely different reaction to it.

    Yes, you want to be sensitive around people who are depressed, but you always want to remember they’re people. They just have different challenges than you do.

    Talk to the person, not the depression.

    And when you read articles like Ashley’s, use them to open a conversation with your friend who’s depressed.

    Ashley, thank you for sharing your story. For me that’s the purpose of sites like Tiny Buddha – where stories are shared so people can find the things that resonate with them.

    Thanks for your commitment in sharing yourself!

  • authorgarygreen

    I really like this post. I was very depressed in my youth. I also got involved with some pretty heavy drinking–self medicating. I learned that recovery is very hard work, but very much worth it. If I had one message to depressed people it would be this: Sometimes you have to act in spite of how you feel. Depression is a liar that will tell you that you are worthless and can’t be happy. Don’t believe it.

  • Felix

    I´ve been diagnosed with severe depression, and I´m not an optimist. I just can´t find a way to be it. The article is interesting. Ineffective to myself, tough.

  • unhappyhere

    Very helpful article Ashley. Just one question….How would you advice someone to deal with depression if they cannot change their environment. I live in a violent environment where all sorts of terrible things happen around me everyday. Whenever I try to get over the negative actions I experience or observe, others keep happening. What would you advice me to do?

  • Guest

    It is good to see personal experiences and the truth is lot of people hide their depression and try to get better on their own. Psychiatrist will not solve your problems in a 5-15 minute appointment and prescribing medication had become a multi-billion dollar business.
    Readers were clear that you shared your personal story and you are not giving medical advice.I loved your article by the way.

  • Guest

    Depression had many causes.I just found out for example that GMO foods will negatively effect your gut bacteria and it will decrease your serotonin levels. Another issue is people are depleted in Omega 3 essential fatty acids,so it is important to increase these nutrients in our diet to nourish our brain.The problem of depression is a complex issue,certainly the more you can do : yoga,meditation,nutrition,warm bath (for relaxation),exercise,stress management,vitamin D and sunlight-the better.

  • Guest

    You have to scrape yourself off the floor,have to get up and have to get going.
    Recovery is very hard work,try to find some good support people,medication is not the only answer.Today people are under tremendous amount of stress just to survive and support their families.

  • Guest

    It is very hard in other countries too.Hard to leave families behind,specially if in you new country you have no friends or family. Try to find a job,once you have food on the table and less stress,then decide if it is worth to leave your country or not.

  • Your experience will inspire many to create well-being. thank you 🙂

  • Samantha

    I Am in love with this post! Thank you for being so honest about your journey! I can relate in a sense that I went through some depressive states during high school and then I became pregnant with my daughter in 2010, which then led to postpartum depression, and now I am pregnant with my second! I am doing everything that I can to provide a positive life for my daughter and unborn child and husband! It isn’t easy to make that decision, you get comfortable with being depressed even though it hurts so much! I have also learned that I can not be there for people who are always negative! I am always willing to help a friend in need of a be a shoulder for them to cry on, but I can not put myself through the negativity of other people’s issues! It can really put a damper on my mood!
    I also found that staying away from the media and positive affirmations have helped me a lot!
    I hope that you continue to succeed in your recovery and continue to write about your journey and helps others!

  • Angela Anderson

    Ashley, thanks for such a heartfelt post. Like many of the commenters, I have also experienced severe depression. Some of the things that worked for you, like eliminating negativity and doing kind things for others, including volunteering (for instance, I pack food bags for kids who don’t have food at home), helps me refocus. It doesn’t erase the depression, but it makes me feel useful–and that’s worth a lot. 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing this vulnerable and expressive post Ashley.

  • This was a great post! For the past 5 months I have been actively and pretty incessantly working on coming out of my depression. As someone who has lived through it, I can vouch for many of the points in this post. I also know, though, that it’s not easy, and for some people it might take much more than a choice. I’m in no way the happiest person on the planet, but I can truly say that my life is drastically better now than it was last year. It takes a lot of hard work to recover from depression, but it is possible if you are willing to put in the effort every. single. day. For as long as I can remember I was a negative nancy and now I can say that I’ve chosen optimism and positivity and I’ll keep choosing it every day. It takes WAY more than a choice, but to choose to fight is – in my opinion – the first step and most important thing on your way to recovery.

  • Ashley, I felt like I was reading about myself when I started your article. Thank you for your words and suggestions. It is a battle everyday to beat depression but I’m confident we’ll do it 🙂

  • Many people are having a hard time being positive especially
    when they are facing lots of obstacles. I understand the feeling and I too was
    having the same problem before. When my father died, I didn’t know how to
    support my family. Being the eldest, I thought that it’s too much for me to
    carry. I didn’t have a job and all I could expect that time was the donations
    given by our relatives and friends. I was devastated that time and the best I
    could hope for was to find a stable job. I told myself: “I love them and I
    don’t want them to suffer.” That love and compassion gave me the strength to get
    on with my life.

    We can always see light in the darkness. Some of us may not
    see that because we are too busy focusing on negative things. We need to face
    challenges to grow. It’s a normal process and there’s no way we can avoid it.
    It’s only your perception that creates your reality. The first step to free
    yourself from negative people and situations is to start with a positive mental
    attitude. When you deliberately cultivate positive thoughts and maintain an
    optimistic attitude, you constantly attract positive things and people into
    your life. Just take the first step and everything will follow.

    When I started to think positive and act like nothing
    destroys me, I was amazed that everything turned out the way I was expecting
    it. I have a stable job for 6 years now and living in my own house with my son,
    mother and 2 siblings. Manifesting my wants through the power of positive
    thinking is never easy. There are challenges that come with it too. It’s up to
    you how to handle it. Don’t let your lower-self drag you down. Deal with
    situations with wisdom. When you failed, just go back to the first step and
    start over. One thing to remember is to be consistent in creating positive
    thoughts and to support it with prayers to God.

    Blessings,

    Aris @www.TheOptimistBlog.com

  • Shubham Kumar

    Hey @ashleytrexler:disqus
    Myself shubham (Age-18 years), I would like to share something with you.
    I am in depression from the past 2-3 years.many times have i tried to tell my parents about how I feel, but never have I able to make them understand my feelings and they too have always adapted an optimistic feeling to live ahead.I have tried to tell them that i want to visit a psychiatrist but my parents never took that decision.They are convinced that the doctor would give some advices which my parents can give better than them and at each stage of life.Secondly, our family thinks that the medication that the doctor would recommend would make my problems severe and make me prone to side effects of anti-depressent drugs.
    I think that things are becoming worse for me day by day.I have lost friends, my college life is very boring and full of obstacles,I have ruined my grades,my peers are doing far better than me.I cleared the exam of IIT(Indian Institute of Technology) last year itself,got admitted into one of the best engineering colleges in India but then also I am not able to achieve what I deserve in life.i dont feel good and enthusiastic now.What should i do at this point of time?
    You are an experienced lady i hope your suggestion would bring me some breakthrough in life.i am waiting for your reply.

  • Ashley Trexler

    Oh, how I wish I had an answer for you, Shubham! But I’m not going to sit here and tell you what you should be doing…because you KNOW what you should be doing. If you’re suicidal, you need to walk yourself into a hospital and tell them. If you think talking to someone outside of your family will help, do it. Find a counselor (maybe at your school?). But if you really look inside yourself, perhaps the answer is in you? Not me. Not a therapist. What can you do in this moment to make today a better day? What environmental factors are contributing to your unhappiness? Please talk to someone. A wise Indian therapist once told me my depression was environmental, not clinical. Fix the environment, and you fix the depression. I fired him. He was right, though it took years to realize what he meant. Depression is a chemical, physical, and mental imbalance. Identify the parts you can change, and work on those. Find a focus that is positive and good. That’s the best advice I ever received, for my particular type of depression. Please talk to someone. No one should feel the way you do, but it’s up to you to make a change. Good luck, and I’ll keep you in my thoughts.

  • Shradha Sharma

    Thank you Ashley
    Thank u so much…

  • Anthony

    I suffered a freak stroke. I am only 45 living with parents now (very hard!)
    I am struggling with depression mood swings
    My mom very negative person she is always complaint. I used to be
    Positive about everything I feel my health is being effected
    Help!
    Anthony

  • Chrissy Dean

    Thank you, I found your article to be very helpful. I’ve looked at many sites after typing in ‘ struggling with depression ‘ many times, your’s has been the only one I want to print and read often!
    I suffer from severe depression and borderline personally disorder – gee what a great pair they are! NOT!
    I too have attempted suicide, came very close once.
    A doctor said to me (no longer my doctor) “You aren’t depressed, you can get out of bed” Really? You have to get out of bed to jump off a bridge to kill yourself…….one word for that doctor – idiot.
    I see a psychotherapist weekly at this current time, my last attempt to finally clear out the ghosts in my memories that hinder any chance of me truly enjoying being in my own skin.
    Being sexually abused and neglected from pre-teen age doesn’t make for a resilient person, especially if your parents deny any responsibility.
    And I totally agree – tidy house = tidy mind! Don’t know why but it makes a big difference!

  • Janice

    My BFF forwarded me your article and I can so relate to you. Having had severe depression, I too made a choice to think positive. At first I even told myself things (in a positive way) that I didn’t even believe in it, but after a while I started to tell myself: “Yes, this can be true if I choose to love myself. It took me several years, but I am not severely depressed anymore. I made a choice to once an for all take care of myself. It is well worth it. Of course there are bumps during the ride, but well worth it, because I did not want to go back ever again in that dark place. Depression is a survival mode and we all fight for love but very difficult regarding circumstances that we have gone through, but making positive choices gives HOPE, SELF-ESTEEM, LOVE, and ACCEPTANCE. Thank you for writing this beautiful article.

  • Argument Clinic

    Bad things happen to people despite their unwavering optimism.
    Good things happen to people despite their unwavering pessimism.

    Your article isn’t remotely practical in the type of life we live in. The optimists all say “Be positive and everything will go your way.” The only optimists still left saying this are the optimists who were fortunate enough to have these lucky outcomes and based on their subjective experience it upheld their belief. Most of us were not so fortunate to have had the good fortune to wear rose-colored glasses all of our lives.

    Behind almost every skeptic and cynic is a former die-hard optimist and idealist. For every person who says “I prayed to God every day and I always had good fortune” there is someone who truly had an experience like this “I prayed to God every day and all I ever got was hardship, disease and suffering”.

    None of these things can be concluded to be logically, objectively true based on these subjective findings:

    1) God exists and is good and rewarding and if we pray to God we will prosper
    2) God exists and is apathetic and if we pray to God it does no good
    3) God exists and is evil and if we pray to God bad things will happen to us

    Arriving at any of these conclusions is a cognitive bias specifically black and white thinking. It’s also rooted in another cognitive bias called wishful thinking. Why not just say life is what it is and most people will be realistic and say “sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad” and try to come up with real practical coping skills to make the best of it?

    How can one arrive at the latter conclusion? Look around and be objective and collect data. But optimists fear this because they have to recognize the good as well as the bad and that doesn’t uphold fictional rose colored glasses they desire which is irrational, absurd and counter-productive to dealing with challenges and adversity. That is called cognitive dissonance and avoiding it doesn’t reconcile it.

  • Kaamini Joshi

    yes divert ones mind to something positive or funny event is a start…..slowly when the mind gets pure positive thoughts it starts to feel calmer and slowly depression goes. its like eating bad food poisons the body so also thinking neg daily poisons the mind and depression sets in

  • Beth Madrid

    Something happened to me so suddenly that I’m currently undergoing a never-ending episodes of depression and I think I sunk too low to the bottom that I don’t know how to pick up myself again, much less function as a normal human being. I lost faith in my family as they are the reason of my depression. I’m just barely hanging by a thread & keeping what little spark of life left in me. Thanks for my few good friends that is still holding on to me. But Up to this point, I can still see myself alone in my agony. I’m trying hard to tell myself that all this will pass by soon. And that it couldn’t be much worse. That somehow, there’s a silver lining waiting for me afterall.