Hopelessness and Depression: Murphy's Law
If anything bad could happen, it will happen.
So goes "Murphy's Law." Looked at one way, the "law" is a perverse view of the universe. One that says that given equal chances, a bad outcome will be what happens. Looked at another way, it's a fairly scientific view: if you wait long enough or play the game (or live long enough), bad things rather than good things will happen.
As a depressive, though, it's a rule of life. And that's too bad. Because what the depressive's view of Murphy's Law says is that if you have various outcomes to life's events, the bad one will always win out.
- If you could get a good job or a bad job, you'll get a bad one.
- If you are exposed to someone with chicken pox, you will get it.
- If you have children, they will use drugs.
- If the stock market could turn lower, it will - tomorrow!
If we make the above list long enough, it actually becomes funny. I mean, even I can see how ridiculous it is to expect everything to turn out badly. But we don't look at the list. We look at today's events, possibly tomorrows. So, taking each event by itself, it seems perfectly reasonable to be pessimistic. Reasonable to a depressed person, that is. Not only will this wonderful job not happen, or this beautiful person not love me, or my child have a car crash - the future is totally hopeless.
Hopelessness is, in fact, one of the primary characteristics of depression. So, how do we combat hopelessness? How do we get rid of the negative outlook about life?
How do we combat Murphy's Law? Unfortunately, as all of us have discovered, it ain't a matter of will power. It isn't something someone (no matter how important in our lives) says to us. It's a matter of psychotherapy and medication and learning how to trust the scientific and rational side of your brain, not the limbic system side. To learn the hard way - through trial and error - that though bad things could happen, they don't always occur.
Caution, in other words, will sometimes be thrown to the winds and we will let our positive outlook (the one that's hiding deep underneath the depression) come out. It can happen; it does happen; and we just need to be able to watch for the opportunity.
It's the medication and the therapy that make those opportunities for us. We have to learn how to grab them!