02/11/2014 14:11 GMT | Updated 02/01/2015 05:59 GMT

Three Ways to Prevent Those Mistakes You Make From Triggering Your Depression


(Photo: David Pacey/Flickr)

Last week while I was driving, I was pulled over for a random breath test. I passed it, but when the police officer asked to see my license, I realized that I'd forgotten my wallet at home. Because I couldn't produce my license, I was hit with a $104 fine.

If this had happened a few years ago when I used to suffer from clinical depression, it would've no doubt triggered an episode. It would've led me to beat myself up for hours.

I can't believe I left my license at home, I would've chastised myself. I'm such a fucking idiot!

There are always cops patrolling that highway... how could I have been stupid enough to forget my wallet at home when I knew I was going to be driving there, of all places? I'm such a screw up!

I'm such a failure ... I can't do anything right.

If you suffer from depression, then this probably sounds familiar. When you're suffering from depression, you're your own worst bully, and when you make a mistake - no matter how small - you drop the hammer on yourself. You beat yourself up endlessly, and as a result, plunge yourself into a pit of despair.

Part of recovering from depression however is learning to take all the simple little mistakes you make in your stride and not have them lead to an emotional meltdown. These three techniques helped me, and I'm confident they'll be able to help you, too.

1. Remind yourself that you're human.

Because you're human, you're not perfect. As a result, you are going to make mistakes - and it's unrealistic for you to expect yourself not to. So when you make a mistake, it's not because you're a "fucking idiot" or a "screw up" or a "failure" - it's because you're human. So forgive yourself and move on.

2. Ask yourself, "will this really affect the big picture?"

Doing this really helps to put things in perspective. Let's take my fine for example: of course, I would've rather not lost $104, but does losing it mean that I'm going to starve to death? Or never be able to buy a house? Or not be able to take care of my future family? Of course not. In the 'big picture' context, it's really not a big deal at all. So what's the point in fretting about it and letting it ruin me now?

3. Learn from it.

When you make a point of learning from your mistakes, you build confidence in yourself that you won't make that same mistake again. For example, instead of leaving my wallet in a pants pocket, I now leave it with my car keys - so I now have faith in myself that I won't forget it at home next time I drive somewhere. And when you've built that confidence in yourself, you're much less likely to feel like a "fucking idiot" or a "screw up" or a "failure".


Employing these three tips won't mean that you'll never get annoyed or frustrated with yourself when you make a silly mistake - but they will help prevent you from sliding into depression.

And that in itself is taking a step closer to recovering.