You must have met them: maybe on Facebook; maybe on a bus; possibly you have one of them in your family. You know the people I mean - they always think there is some conspiracy going on, and they always have their pet theories.
The favourite one at present seems to be around Covid. “It’s all nonsense,” they say. “It’s all a big plot by the Government to control us. The vaccine will pump us full of nanobots that will spread into our brains so that we will become sheep.”
If we challenge these ideas, we are the “Sheeple.”
These Covid deniers ask, “Well, do you know anyone who has actually had it?”
Well, yes. I know half a dozen people who have had it. They have all been very ill.
This, however, rolls off them like water from a tinfoil hat because they are not interested in evidence; they want to keep their theories. There is a psychological payoff for them; a feeling of satisfaction that only they are seeing the world clearly; a feeling of superiority. If they were forced to confront the evidence, those comfortable feelings would dissipate, leaving them as uncertain as the rest of us.
At the end of last week, a friend reached out for help. “The black Newfoundland is sitting on my chest again,” she said. “He’s telling me I am worthless; that I am unloved and unloveable. I know it’s not true, but I can’t make those feelings go away.”
She was immediately swamped with words of love and affirmation from her friends. If it were not for lockdown, she would have been hugged by as many of us who could get to her. Not only is she dearly valued and loved but many of us are ourselves familiar with the black hound of depression. My friend is not alone. I have those voices too. Many of us do.
Depression fills our head with negative conspiracy theories. It tells us we are failures, that we are despicable and not fit to live in the world with decent people. When we point to the diploma on the wall or remember the times we have been acknowledged for our contribution, Depression just sneers.
“That was just a fluke. Those people were just being kind; they didn’t mean it. If they knew what I know you’d never work again. Your partner doesn’t love you; you are the worst parent in the world. I don’t know how you can live with yourself. You are worthless.”
I don’t know a way to defeat conspiracy theorists either in real life or in my head. I can walk away from the man on the bus or listen politely to that family member and let it wash over me; I can choose not to engage on Facebook. It is less easy to ignore the voices in my head.
They won’t go away, but I can gather more and more evidence. The voices won’t listen to the evidence, but I can.
I have worth. I am loved. And I choose to believe I am loveable.
A Moodscope member.