Note: This is Topic #3 of a 10-part series called The Fine Art of Misery.
*On a serious note: please know that this series is intended to be a spoof, a lighthearted invitation to look at how we sometimes create our own misery. It is by no means meant to be disrespectful or minimizing of many people's true pain, particularly around depression and anxiety.
Believe it or not, some people don’t naturally come by feelings of depression. They are afflicted with a sunny disposition. Don’t despair. A proven technique to generate an internal state of depression is to start on the outside and work your way in to the inside.
Begin with your physical appearance, then concentrate on your outward behavior, and finish off the process with the big guns as described in our last column: your inner thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs (Stinking Thinking: The Sweet Smell of Successful Misery). This systematic approach will slowly but surely destroy your life spirit.
How to Appear Depressed
- Wear drab, dark clothes that communicate that you are invisible or otherwise deserve to be invisible. Browns, blacks, grays, and navy blues are best. Be sure your clothes are over-sized, wrinkled, and not clean. A low slung hat or hairstyle that hides your eyes is a particularly effective touch that will keep you feeling invisible and unworthy. It telegraphs to the world your morose and sullen nature and has the added benefit of calling attention to yourself as a misunderstood outcast. Some people will be merely intrigued; others will feel sorry for you and that’s exactly the effect you’re after.
- Manage your facial expressions. Always wear a frown on your face and do not make eye contact with people. Use your face to express only minimal emotion; boredom, superior disdain and chronic irritation are best. The well-timed rolling
- Manage your body language. Always walk slowly using a short stride with your head down, hands in your pockets, and looking only 3-5 ft. in front of you. Be sure you maintain rounded shoulders and a hunched over posture. Never, ever look up to see the blue sky or bright sunshine. While sitting, cross your arms, keep your head down and throw in the occasional despairing slow shaking of the head accompanied by a long, tired sigh.
How to Behave Like a Depressed Person
- Listen to sad, depressing music. Adele is a good choice.
- Sit in the dark at home, alone. Pull the shades, turn off the lights and withdraw into your own little world of misery.
- Avoid exercise or any physical exertion. A mere 15-20 minutes of exercise could trigger the release of endorphins and this will increase your experience of pleasure. Avoid at all cost.
- Do not express your anger. Be sure to stuff it deep and hide it behind a contrived happy face. That buried anger will gel into some fine quality depression.
- Avoid sunshine. Again, a mere 15 – 20 minutes of sun exposure per day could cause your Vitamin D levels to rise resulting in improved mood. You’ve worked too hard to backslide now. If you must go outside, cover yourself up and wear a floppy hat and sunglasses. Besides, that pasty, sickly quality to your skin is quite attractive and really complements your overall depressed look.
How to Think Like a Depressed Person
It’s not as easy as you might think. Negativity must become second nature to you. Don’t get caught off guard by a sudden compliment. “That’s a really nice shirt you’re wearing” could shift you into a moment of pleasure if you’re not on your toes. Be quick with a sharp retort, “So, I guess you think my pants are pretty ugly since they’re not worth mentioning.” This makes people feel crazy and they will stop complimenting you.
Generally speaking, your thoughts are an extension of your beliefs and attitudes, so let’s begin at this fundamental level. You must develop a solid foundation of cynicism about life, people, the world, love, relationships, and especially yourself. Here are a few suggested beliefs to get you started. Feel free to adapt them according to your parents’ and your culture’s particular dysfunctional nuances.
- "Life is not meant to be “enjoyed” (try to spit out that last word with a snide, mocking tone for added effect). Life is about working hard, being a good citizen, raising a family and then dying. Our reward will be in heaven."
- "Don’t trust anyone. People are just out to protect their own self interest and will rip off and step on anyone to get it."
- "Love? Love is an illusion; it doesn’t exist. You’re a schmuck if you believe in such a fairytale fantasy. People will just use it to deceive, manipulate, and destroy you. Get real."
- "Never trust happiness. Just when you start to relax, life will slam you with another crisis that you don’t deserve."
Here are a few suggested thoughts to keep your mind occupied while you're in the shower or walking to your car in the parking lot, or any other time that life slows down enough to get in some concentrated depressed mental exercise. In a very short time, these will develop into what we in the 'biz call "automatic thoughts." This will become your default way of thinking because now all this negativity has slipped beneath your awareness into your sub-conscious. And that's the most powerful place to be if you want fundamental personality change. Congratulations!
- "Gee, I'd like to apply for that job, but I probably won't get it. I shouldn't even bother applying for it. Somebody else is probably more qualified than me. Besides, it's not what you know, but who you know."
- "Maybe I'll go to that party Saturday night. No, why bother? I won't know anyone there and I'm such a loser when it comes to talking to people. Why would anyone want to talk to me, anyway? I'm so boring. I have nothing interesting to say about anything. I'm never going to make friends with anyone."
- "That was such a lame thing to do, I can't believe I did that. I'm such a moron. I can't ever do anything right."
- "I'm so screwed up. I have so many problems, who would ever want to get involved with me?"
I hope you found these tips helpful in your efforts to become a truly depressed person. Stay tuned for other installments from The Fine Art of Misery series.
*On a serious note: please know that this series is intended to be a spoof, a lighthearted invitation to look at how we create our misery. It is by no means meant to be disrespectful or minimizing of many people's true pain, particularly around depression and anxiety.
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