We’ve all heard folk declaring they “suffer from depression” in the same way we might say “ I suffer from asthma/allergies/the flu—in other words, as if it’s a sickness they’re unlucky enough to have caught, about which there’s nothing they can do but ride it out.
Psychologist Dr Michael Hurd questions this approach, arguing that the way to begin dealing properly with the affliction is not to abdicate responsibility for our emotions, but instead to take responsibility for them. Naturally, this view doesn’t receive much support from many “professionals”:
The world is full of people, particularly educated or sophisticated types, who like to feel more viable or important by encouraging passivity in you. The therapy field is full of this type, as are most of the educated, influential, powerful and "chattering" classes. Their membership in this elite does not automatically make them right. And their seeming concern -- if not fawning desire -- to ensure your best interests does not automatically mean that your interests will be met by listening to them.
To me, it makes infinitely more sense to look at your habits of thinking as the causes of your problems, not only because it's true -- but it also implies the solution is in your hands.
The solution is in your hands once your realise that emotions are not causeless. Emotions in fact are the result of prior thinking, or refusal to think—“a reflection or extension of the way that we think. In other words, we are what we think. And what we think "prints out" in the form of emotions. This is not unfair or unkind blaming. It's simply a recognition of fact. It's also more hopeful than the passive approach.”
Depression, properly defined, is a state of "learned helplessness." This term arose out of the research of Martin Seligman and others. Ironically, the medicalization of emotions reinforces the very state of depression it's supposed to "treat." It tells you, "You're not responsible for your emotional state. Something else is. And once treated, while you sit and wait, you will be fine." To me, this seems like a cruel and twisted joke. You tell the person whose emotional state is dominated by "I can't do anything to change myself" by claiming, in effect, "You can't do anything to change yourself."
But you can. Don’t medicalise your emotions, as too many “professionals” encourage (and certainly don’t turn to bad religion as a solace), instead
try to fight what the established world -- even the established world of mental health and self-help, unfortunately -- tries to tell you. Get past these notions of "I suffer from" this or that "mental disorder." Instead, look objectively at what your mind is actually saying and doing. Look at what your attitude is, and whether your attitudes or beliefs are fact-based or not, or require changing. Find someone to help you? Surely, if it's needed. But find someone to help you at this task. Don't find someone to "help" you merely look at yourself as a weak, helpless creature subject to whatever disease of emotions you happened to inherit. That's not really the way it is.