LIES AND MORE LIES
The Devil is the Father of Lies, as we know. And that terrible capital-D voice in your head when you're depressed, most of us also know, wants to make everything look hopeless. Depression wants to color everything with its bleakness — past, future, here, elsewhere, us and other people. The voice insists, Nobody likes you, things will Never get better, you are Completely worthless.
Well, here's the thing: By doing that, by spreading like the black creeping Nothing and taking over our whole souls, Depression is making itself an enemy…of logic.
Logic to Depression:
::points fingers at eyes::points at you::points back at eyes::
THE MORE YOU KNOW, or, BEING AN ARGUMENTATIVE ASSHOLE FOR ACTUAL PROFIT
First-year logic students learn two symbols, the "for all" (the universal "in all cases"; a cool upside-down A: ∀) and the "there exists" (the existential; a backwards E that means "there is at least one case where": ∃). And they learn that very, very few logical operations work when you just swap out those two!
And anyone interested in society or politics at all knows that individual or small-group truths do NOT translate directly with general statements, about human rights, values, worth, ethics, anything. Generalities and specifics are different, and it is a hard mistake in logic, in rational thinking, to accept a generality / universality based on a existential example. If you do it, your conclusions are wrong, wrong, wrong.
So, not everybody is a devotee of rational thinking, like I am — but if you are, if you really believe in using your mind and consciously attempting to make sense, then having that flaming angel to fight the Devil with can be really useful.
It's not a cure-all! (If there's a cure for Depression and I know about it, I will drop everything and devote my life to telling everyone, don't worry.) But over the years, I've won several significant battles, and greatly improved my "baseline" outlook and my resistance to the Devil's nastiest tricks, thanks to putting my foot down and insisting on logic, in response to the demonic voices.
Instead of hunching over and taking the blows, whenever I can I put my philosopher hat on and quiz the living hell (ha) out of those capital-D voices:
"You have enough evidence to conclude that, eh? A FEW people don't like me; a few also do. And I haven't met, like, a zillion people yet; talk about sloppy induction. Plus I can't reliably know what everyone I have met thinks of me, and using what they think as a gauge of my worth, even if I could know it, is an entirely hypothetical imperative and useless as a principle. This idea is so full of shit we should be spreading it on the crops."
Here's the best part, though: That Devil is great at knowing just what to say to hurt me — but he sssssuuuuuuuccckks at logic. So if I can grab one breath amid the sting of it and put on my arguing hat (and I do love my arguing hat; that helps), I often win that argument in a blazing TKO. The dark insistings of Depression are as vulnerable to blunt refusal to play along as a goth cosplay wedding. So the more pedantic I get, the more I pick apart every choice of words the inner voice uses to harass me, the more I insist on specifics and details, the faster and harder I win.
IT DOES HELP! (DON'T BELIEVE ME: TRY IT)
Winning these arguments means you win battles, not the war; but battles matter in the aggregate — and they feel amazing in the moment. The voice evaporates in a huff. Depression, for the moment, retreats.
They say the Devil's in the details — but he isn't, not really. Bad luck is in the details; bad luck is what gets you if you overlook something in preparation or miss a cue in execution. The Devil, the real one, works by attacking the emotions. It doesn't always use words, but since our minds are usually so verbal, words are nearly always a part of its attack. That gives us a weapon. Words are a fat chain leading back to the bedrock on which language is built: the desire to say something real, to find clear meaning and honest truth. The dead opposite of Depression's Lies.
We call that intention to speak truths "reason", rationality, or as a formal study, logic. And here's the damning (ha) technical detail one more time: Reason works on details. Reason looks close at your word-choices and your meaning and demands further information, clarification, reality-checks. Reason calls bullshit.
And while it feels strange to me that this should be true, even after years of proof…the Big D here…it falls apart under that kind of scrutiny. Just falls apart. Sunlight on a vampire. It's a weapon you have to keep swinging, and it can be heavy sometimes, and it doesn't strike critical blows 100% of the time — but it's a weapon, and at least for me, a good one that I'm immensely grateful for.
If this sounds useful to you or someone you know, I hope you/they try it. It was really cool for me to be able to share this trick, and coming up on Halloween to boot! …Come on, I enjoyed the hell out of the whole Devil metaphor. :D