Depressive Realism: Like a Paradoxical Virus Festering in Your Brain

I’ve been in therapy roughly one week. I’ve met with Dr. Jasmine, my psychologist, twice now. She strongly urged me to meet no less than every two weeks. I guess I’m that damn depressed. At the end of our first session, she sent me home with the following action plan.

Dr Jasmine ToDo List Aug 19 2016

Dr. Jasmine’s list for me to follow after our first session.


My mental (literally!) to-do list.

[Wait, does that even make sense to use the word literally in this concext??]

But today is a relatively good day. I can see the forest for the trees. My parents are driving back to Ohio after their weekend visit. I’m scared but I’m trying to keep my head above water.

What I really mean to say is that I’m afraid to start teaching tomorrow. I’m really not ready – especially from an emotional standpoint. I haven’t left the house in over 2 months (except to see a doctor, or two, or more).

And I don’t have the strength to put on a happy face.

At any rate, Dr. Jasmine has me using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques. Last Friday, she sent me home with a simple thought record.  A thought record helps me keep track of the thoughts that cause me to feel depressed, anxious, scared, etc. I record the circumstances, the emotions I experience, and then I attempt to identify what thoughts led me to the emotion.

Below is an image of the first page of my first thought record.

First TR August 20 2016

My first simple thought record. August 20, 2016


Click here to catch a glance of the full record (PDF/JPEG).

It is hard to understand, let alone believe, that I am not my depressed brain. Dr. Jasmine compared it to parasite or virus. Depressed Brain wants me (and actually needs me – anyone with depression) to believe the negative thoughts and perceptions.

Dr. Jasmine also shared a new concept to me in our last session. Related to the Depressed Brain is this paradoxical concept/theory known as Depressive Realisim. According to Dr. Hussain (2012),

“Depressive realism hypothesis (Alloy & Abramson, 1979) states that depressed individuals exhibit more accurate and realistic perception and less prone to biases of judgment than their non-depressed counterparts. Depressive realism is paradoxical especially in relation to the efficacy of cognitive therapy of depression that focuses on correcting unrealistic thoughts and beliefs as a treatment of depression.”


Ignorance really is bliss.

It is entirely possible that those of us who live with a Depressed Brain actually may have a more accurate understanding of reality than those who do not – as if we are caught in a psych ward version of The Wachowskis’ movie The Matrix. Which kind of upsets me because now I can’t enjoy that movie anymore.

I’m pretty sure no one would have believed Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus. In fact, they probably would have been hospitalized and then institutionalized – by other humans caught in the Matrix. No help needed from the secret agents.

I just keep telling myself the darkest hour is just before the dawn.

[Things are going to get better.]


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Depressive Realism: Like a Paradoxical Virus Festering in Your Brain by S. Q. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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Hussain D. (2012). Depressive Realism Hypothesis:  Reflections and Critical Analysis
  International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation. Vol 17(1) 59-64.