Fighting Depression

Health, Psychology

Imagine throughout your entire developmental years, you were told how you felt. You were told that you only hold on to the negative, that you were spoiled rotten, that you were an all-around horrible person. Consciously, you knew these words were hurtful, mean, and untrue, but after hearing it for years, your subconscious latched onto them.

You’re lazy, you’re fat, you’re fucked up. That’s who your parents told you were, and you never said anything because the words were less painful than the physical abuse, at least at the time.  Even your siblings were in on it, telling you that you deserved this type of punishment and torture, that you were in fact a horrible person. And your mom feigned ignorance.

Your mom would linger in the background, pretending to sweep the floor while your father hit you across the face and reamed you for hours on end. Afterwards, he’d force you to reiterate the punishment you deserved to family members. Your mom played stupid, like she didn’t know what was going on. She left you alone with your father, the one she later would speak so ill about.

You remember the time your dad forced you to say you were fucked up at 10-years-old. You looked for your mom to say something, and she looked away. So, with tears in your eyes, you said, “I’m fucked up.” You remember when your Grandpa came to visit, you hung around him, hoping that he would protect you from the abuse of your father, but in turn, he said nothing also.

You were crying for help, talking to strangers online, and avoiding others in real life for anyone in real life could plainly see how fucked up your life was. You hid it all because your parents told you to. They got a divorce and dragged you in the middle. They thought just because they gave you food and shelter that that was all it took to parent.

Your parents coerced you, used your identity, and abused your soul. They made you believe that their mistakes were your fault, and you believed it because you thought they had your best interest in mind when in fact, you disassociated from yourself this entire time and all the emotions and events you didn’t process flood back.

Then, you look to your side and find your new family. You find people to care about you and accept you. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to be treated with respect. You’re beautiful, smart, and kind. Just because the ones you grew up with weren’t, doesn’t mean you have to follow in their miserable footsteps. But you feel as though you’re unworthy.

You urge back your self loathing. You say that you don’t hate your biological parents, but it still hurts. It hurts that you’ve hurting for so long and no one helped you, and that you weren’t able to help yourself. A piercing pain shows the truth about your life. You’re embarrassed and ashamed. All you wanted was to be normal and loved, and now that you finally have it you don’t know what to do.

The illness of depression spreads. Despite every silver lining, the storm thickens. You want to find your way out. You want to be happy. You don’t want to suffer anymore. When will it end? You ask whoever’s listening. You take a deep breath through your negative spiraling and let it go because that’s the only option you have left. Let it go. Holding on is only hurting you more.

Recovery in Sight

Health, Psychology

Having depression is more than just being sad. Being depressed isn’t as simple to fix as just being happy. When you tell people what you’re going through and they say it “surprises” them, a part of you is irritated because others are constantly telling you who you are and how to feel. You feel as though something must be wrong with you, or that it’s all in your head.

Depression makes you ashamed to admit you actually have it. Depression is wearing tinted glasses to view the world in one shade. You don’t want to leave your bed. You don’t want to answer your phone. You can’t do the things you love. You can’t find the source of your pain. Each day you live with it, the more normal it becomes until you forget what true happiness feels like.

You smile and laugh, but inside you hate yourself. You tell yourself you’re not suicidal, but sometimes the line gets blurry. You want to allow others to help you, yet how can they when you don’t even know how to process what’s going on in your head? You think you’re a burden and the world would be better without you.

Asking for help is the first step.

Sometimes, it’s not enough to have others help you. You have to help yourself. All the therapy and drugs in the world won’t “cure” you unless you want to. The hardest part is doing the things you don’t really want to do. Exercise releases endorphins, but the bed is so warm. Venturing back to your passions is what you need, but it’s easier to scroll on hours of social media. Healthy relationships with good people help heal wounds, but avoiding everyone feels so much better. You don’t want to be this way anymore, but you don’t know how to change.

Step outside your element, literally.

Force yourself to join that gym. Make yourself get outside and walk down the street. Ask that coworker you’ve known for years to hang out outside of work. Keep a journal. Adopt a dog. Tell yourself you’re worth it. Confront your past. Face your pain. Allow yourself to grieve. Society has taught us that it’s negative to express emotions, yet what makes us human is not only intelligence, it’s our capacity to feel. Denying that part of yourself hurts not only you but the relationships you have with people around you.

The cure isn’t a linear path

Sometimes, you relapse. Everything seems to be going well then it all comes crashing down again. Sometimes, it feels like lying to yourself. Like, no matter what you do, things just keep getting worse. The only thing you can desperately hold onto is love. Love from a partner, from a pet, from yourself. It’s the only thing that keeps you going.

Overcoming depression takes time, and often you fall back into the same ways of think you’re used to. You ruminate, hate, and hurt. That’s okay. Life isn’t a straight shot to the top. The obstacles put in front of you are meant to be part of who you are. Some days, you’ll truly feel like you’re getting somewhere. Others, you wish you could give up. It’s hard to remember, but most importantly, you’re not alone.

Admitting Illness

Health, Psychology

For a long time, you’ve denied who you are. You’ve denied that there was something seriously wrong with the way your mind works because you were scared to face reality. This whole time, you kept telling people and yourself, “I’m not depressed, I just get like that sometimes,” when in fact you are. You think about wanting to die, mainly because you feel like your life isn’t worth it.

You can’t control your emotions. You got through episodes of sadness and apparent happiness. You cry in settings you shouldn’t and for reasons that you’ve conjured up. You’ve avoided getting to know people because they’re all just going to leave and hurt you like the demons of your past. You tucked everything away, internalizing all the trauma you dealt with as a child. Now, the dam has broke and is flooding the person who you are.

Profound early losses, such as the death of a parent or the withdrawal of a loved one’s affection, may resonate throughout life, eventually expressing themselves as depression. When an individual is unaware of the wellspring of his or her illness, he or she can’t easily move past the depression. Moreover, unless the person gains a conscious understanding of the source of the condition, later losses or disappointments may trigger its return.

What causes depression? By Harvard Health

Worse, you hate yourself for all this. You think that this should be controllable that you’re wrong for feeling this way, that perhaps you should just get over it. You’re unhinging at the seams, trying to keep your sanity together and it scares everyone you know. You don’t want them to worry, so you rationalize that it’s better if you didn’t exist in the first place.

It’s not your fault.

What happened to you as a child wasn’t your fault. Your parents divorced. Someone you trusted was psychologically and physically abusive, neglectful, and selfish. You didn’t want to understand what happened to you because it made you feel uncomfortable and ashamed, so instead of talking about it, you cut off everyone. You reduced yourself to a shell of a person, hiding all the painful events deep inside your brain because what else were you supposed to do to protect yourself? Still now, so many years later, you tell yourself affirmations, you say the words aloud, but you don’t believe them. You’re damaged.

Millions of Americans suffer from some form of depression every year, making it one of the most common mental disorders in the country.

Major Depression (Unipolar Depression) By Arnold Lieber, MD

You’re not alone.

Do the things you really don’t feel like doing. Get outside and talk to strangers. Tell yourself you’re worthy. Put a smile on your face. Exercise. Write in a journal. Be creative. And let yourself heal. It takes time. There will be moments, like maybe right now, that it seems like you’re not getting anywhere. Sometimes, you still feel like you can’t control your emotions, but all those years you denied your mental illness changed the chemistry of your brain. Seek and accept help for you and the people you love. Small progress is progress. Each day you get out of bed is each day you grow stronger. One day, it’ll be part of your past.  

Stepping Out of Harm’s Way

Health, Psychology

There may be certain people in your life that you need to let go of. Your love and relationship with them doesn’t counteract the way they treat you. Some people don’t deserve to be in your life, even how much you want them to be. Each time they betray your trust and mistreat you, you find nostalgic memories, unable to understand your own emotion. A basic human need is connection. Letting go of that connection is a painful process, particularly when that connection is with parent. You find yourself missing them, wishing they aren’t like what everyone said, and most of all wanting to believe that they wouldn’t hurt you.

There is a different kind of hurt that can only come from a toxic parent – someone who is meant to love you. Kind of like being broken from the inside out.

How to Heal from a Toxic Parent by Karen Young

The abuse that you had as a child leads into your adult life because you still crave that affection, attention, and affirmation that you were denied in your childhood. You have issues with your self-worth and confidence. You grow up not knowing your value since you always thought of yourself as lazy, selfish, and not good enough. Yet as you age, you forget and forgive the person who told you this in the first place. You understand that people are human, and more than anything, you wish to create the relationship you never had.

How many times can you keep forgiving someone whose hurt you? When you sit down to think about it, the person whose hurt you the most has never said sorry. You let it go for the sake of love, and occasionally, they showed the side of them that gave you hope. You held onto those seldom, carefree moments, using them as an excuse for their bad behavior toward you.

We are more strongly motivated by intermittent reinforcement — having what we desire happen some of the time — than we are by getting what we want all of the time, or even never getting it.

Healing From a Toxic Childhood? The Two Words You Need Most by Peg Streep

Maybe, the person you love that you need to let go is broken themselves. Maybe, they never knew how to love and have since treated you as a reflection of how they were treated. You feel empathy for them, but you can’t fix them. It’s not your job to. It’s not your fault they couldn’t be the person you wanted. No matter how much love and kindness you give to them, they’re never able to return it because they don’t love themselves. You wanted to see everything good you could in them, but there comes a point when you must face reality.

It’s okay to grieve.

Don’t try to be strong and hold it in. It hurts to lose someone, even by choice. It’s okay to miss them and want everything to go back to the way things were—familiarity is a comforting state. You’re allowed to worry about them and pray for them. But it’s time to think about yourself. You cannot control other people’s actions, despite wanting to. It’s time to start concerning yourself with your future, your happiness, and overall well-being.

Lessons in Love

Health, Psychology

People are selfish creatures by nature, and their selfishness harms those around them. Within every human relationship, there is some type of power dynamic. Parent and child. Older and younger sibling. Good and new friends. In all these scenarios, the balance for dominance is ever teetering.  The thing that holds it together is love.

Love is shown in various forms and levels. Love, or the hope there for it, keeps you going every day. You love your spouse, your parents, your children, you pets, your job, your friends, and sometimes, you love yourself. Your vision and ideas of love came from your upbringing and will forever follow you, infecting every relationship you have. Your love doesn’t let you see past this.

Wise trust assesses the probability of betrayal, in recognition that we are all frail creatures capable of betrayal in weaker moments. Realistically, it’s possible that any of us could betray a loved one. Blind trust denies this darker characteristic of human nature; suspiciousness exaggerates it. Wise trust is an assessment that the probability of betrayal is low.

Trust and Betrayal by Steven Stosny, Ph.D.

You grow up and find out the real world is something you were never prepared for. Everything’s hard and conspiring against you. Just when you pick yourself up, something knocks you down again. It’s easy to give up and satisfy your mind with meaningless activities and redundancy. You find the only constant in your life is your family, and your love for them.

If this love betrays you, you find yourself believing somehow, it’s your fault, as if you can control the actions of another. No matter how many times you say it doesn’t matter, it does. Memories of good times and adventures flood your rationalization. It must be something you’ve done, because why else would someone you trusted break that trust?

Not everyone in your life is who you wanted them to be. Your parent might not be the parent you’ve always wanted. Your siblings might not reciprocate the same concern you have for them. Your friends might only care when it’s convenient for them to do so. People are selfish because it’s safe. It’s safe to look out for just yourself since caring for others leaves you vulnerable and that vulnerability can be misused.

People with negative developmental experiences involving intimate relationships may opt to avoid closeness and isolate themselves. […] But healthy relationships with other people are crucial for personal development, presenting opportunities for growth and change.

6 Ways That a Rough Childhood Can Affect Adult Relationships by
Grant Hilary Brenner MD, FAPA

Love changes people, for better and worse. It’s a tough journey to let go of those you love who may be a negative aspect in your life. Everyone has a someone whose hurt them so deeply that barriers form. You can’t believe that not everyone is out to get you because the ones you did give your heart to, took advantage of it.

You forget that not everyone’s like that. You forget that you’re worthy of unconditional love, and that some of love you were raised with had strings attached. There are good souls out there, in a sea of many. It’s scary, but if you give them the chance, they can show you a love you’ve never known.

In Understanding You

Health, Philosophy, Psychology, Social

Empathy is was makes you human. The ability to process other’s emotion and understand the source of their behavior is what advances society. When people are mean, domineering, and bullies, you search for a reason why, trying to figure out the reasoning behind being treated that way. Usually, it’s clear: those who are unhappy are mean. Those who are domineering are ashamed of who they are. Those who are insecure are bullies. Yet for some reason, when these traits are in the people you love, you find yourself defending them.

People are complex and emotional creatures. The battle for balance between thinking and feeling is dangerous to tread upon. Society has taught us that making decisions based on emotion verses logic is wrong, and in many instances, this is true, particularly when acting upon negativity. Working when stressed leads to making mistakes. Talking when angry comes out the wrong way. There are reactions you regret you did because you were trapped in a negative state of mind. Still, there are moments when your emotions are right because you decided based on a “gut feeling” rather than what you believed to be the most rational.  

Empathizing with others helps you learn to regulate your own emotions. Emotional regulation is important in that it allows you to manage what you are feeling, even in times of great stress, without becoming overwhelmed.

Importance and Benefits of Empathy By Kendra Cherry

The difference in these two decisions making processes in people is categorized in the following: Thinkers and Feelers. As in the name, thinkers value logic whereas feelers are ruled by emotion. Neither one is better than the other and they do in fact overlap. For instance, thinkers have deep emotions they aren’t particularly expressive about, and feelers think rationally too, using their understanding to base new opinions.

Given this information, half of the people you know and love have a completely different way of looking at things than you do. Often, these differences can lead to misunderstandings based on individual perception of how one should act. For instance, you may be a man who fully embraces his emotions and expresses them freely as they come, or you may be a girl who hides her true feeling because she’s unable to convey herself in coherent way. Many people you’ll experience in your life won’t understand the way you process emotions. Some might say you’re difficult to read, others might think you’re too dramatic.

When your mind is so busy with negative thoughts about you, then you don’t have the space to really be present for another person. Often people think they are empathetic but when you consider what are you thinking about when you are listening to the person, you may find that you are busy thinking about you.

The Importance of Empathy By Julie Fuimano

Understanding the people around you may in turn help you understand yourself. You may not know the root of every action, the cause behind every word, but you may come to realize the image you projected onto those you know aren’t who they fully are. This is particularly true with those who have destructive tendencies and toxic traits. Some people are mean because they have had a tough upbringing that haunts them for the rest of their lives. Others aren’t even consciously registering that their behavior is selfish. This doesn’t validate their behavior, but can help you accept that it isn’t your fault.

You get caught up in the image you hold in our mind, that you forget to look at the truth. You have flaws, broken bits, and issues you don’t want anyone to know about it. Next time, when someone does something that upsets you, take a step back and contemplate why they did what they did, what did you do to cause the situation to play out the way it did. Understanding will help you forgive, and forgiveness is what helps you move on.

Inexplicable Emotions

Health, Psychology

People look at you and wonder how you could ever feel that way. The darkness of your mind, scars from your past, and consequences of your actions haunt you, following every step you make toward the light. You don’t know how to tell the people closest to you about the thoughts that infect your mind, because for a long time, you’ve thought something was wrong with you. The kindness and sincerity you put out into the world returns to hurt you.

Since you could remember, you’ve bottled your emotions, pushing them back to a place that you couldn’t see. You didn’t know how else to handle the pain. It never occurred to you that over a decade later, those scars would tear open and damage everything you touched. Your need for love and understanding became confined to a space online that felt comfortable because it wasn’t real, or at least that’s how it appeared.

Emotions aren’t positive or negative.  The human brain is wired to categorize things as positive or negative, and is particularly alert to threats. […] As humans developed language, we employed the same process of classification to our internal state, including our emotions.

How to Manage Your Emotions By Rob Kendall

What makes you hate yourself more is not being able to express yourself in a way that others could understand. For when you try to talk, your emotions come out jumbled, unclear, and misrepresented. It’s not that you don’t trust the people you love, or that you don’t feel comfortable talking to them. It’s that you hate that you feel that way to begin with. You hate yourself for not being able to talk about, and for holding it in. You hate that no matter how much love someone throws at you, it takes a long time for you to open up, and you can’t find a logical explanation as to why.

The paradox is you want someone to listen, to understand. You want to feel better. You want to be better. You want to be normal. You’re cynical and apprehensive because the love you grew watching wasn’t real. You remember sitting at the top of the stairs, watching your parents fight, trying to understand how that was love. You talked to strangers online since you feared real intimacy.  You isolated yourself from everyone due to shame of being broken and pitied.

If we keep on suppressing our negative emotions they get buried in our subconscious mind which often results in mood swings, unexplained sadness, and mild depression. If in the future whenever we face any problem, we won’t just feel bad because of the current problem but also because of these suppressed emotions that we are holding on to.

Effects of suppressing emotions and emotional numbness By Hanan Parvez

You try understanding yourself.

You look in the mirror and all you see are flaws. You must deal with it and face the parts you pushed away. You know that you’re the only one who can heal you. It’s like your talking in circles to yourself. Logic is slapping you in the face, yet this twisting discomfort in your stomach tells you otherwise. You want some consistency, but your sanity fluctuates. It doesn’t matter how many articles you read, lectures you watch, or stories you hear, you tell yourself — with a sense of doubt — that you’re confident, strong, and worthy.

It takes time. You take time to heal. You take time to grow and change. Be patience with yourself, even on your worst days. Love yourself, especially when it’s the hardest. Understand your flaws and accept the person you are, no matter how hard it is. You may not change overnight, you may not change next month, but with every step forward, you’re improving, and that’s what matters.

Conforming to Social Norms

Philosophy, Social

Fake, phony, exaggerated. “Your child is so cute.” “You’re gorgeous.” “They’re so nice.” Aren’t you tired of lying all the time? Smiling through your teeth, saying things that have no weight. Frankly, you can’t figure out why people find the need to talk about nothing. No one cares about your coworker or child who is “so smart.” No one cares about your friend who lives across the country that they’ll most likely never meet. All of it is bragging, gossip, and jealously. Let’s all be honest with each other. You don’t really think that child is cute, nor do you think your coworkers’ best friend is gorgeous. You’re just trying to get through your day, minding your own business when you’re forced to engage in mindless small talk with others.

You have your repertoire of questions in your back pocket that as soon as you ask, you tune out the answer. “Where are you from? Do you live around here? Do you have children? How long have you been married?” Blah blah blah, it’s all nonsense. Most days, it doesn’t bother you all that much, and you’re able to move forward without the mind-numbing nothingness keeping you down. On a larger scale, you pretend to care about issues you don’t really care about because for some reason you like to complain about injustice without doing anything about it. Oh, it’s so easy to be offended.

You’re Acting

In the past, you’ve found yourself constantly being questioned for the things you say and do. For every action you perform, the world demands a reason, when sometimes there is no reason at all. You change your hair, you switch careers, you start a new hobby, you don’t like something. People ask you why, and instead of saying what you’re really thinking, you give a generic answer because after all the years of questioning, you’re tired of defending yourself.

Society, including you, places pressure on peers to act, think, talk, and response in an acceptable or predetermined way, and if you are one to deviate from these standards, people think you’re crazy or stupid. That’s why you stick to the superficial conversation; it’s easy. You don’t have to enter in philosophical debate or use rhetoric and research to answer where you’re from, or what you do for work. Plus, using this form of communication works well since most people are selfish.

People love talking about themselves. They love to talk about their children, their pets, their career, and in the rare occasion you talk about something that requires deliberation, your counterpart will most likely only listen to what they want to hear, arguing for the sake of validating their own opinion. This all goes back to the standard. The same societal standard we were raised believing in and grew up enforcing with our peers. Conformity of social norms.

Normative conformity involves changing one’s behavior in order to fit in with the group.

Informational conformity happens when a person lacks the knowledge and looks to the group for information and direction.

Identification occurs when people conform to what is expected of them based on their social roles.

Compliance involves changing one’s behavior while still internally disagreeing with the group.

Internalization occurs when we change our behavior because we want to be like another person.

How Does Conformity Influence Behavior? By Kendra Cherry

Conformity, in its respect, is a necessary element to a functioning society, but there are times when you don’t have to conform. You don’t have to think that child is cute. You’re not mean if you think that person isn’t attractive. You’re not wrong in being uninterested in someone you’ve never met and never will meet. You shouldn’t feel pressured to say things you don’t mean and act in ways that aren’t true just to please and be accepted by others, because if you don’t accept yourself, people can see right through it. They can see you projecting your insecurity onto others in the way you treat them and the way you act. And the people closest to you are the ones that get the brute end of all those fake smiles and laughs.

Forget it. Forget all the politics, beliefs, and social acceptance. It’s okay for someone to disagree with you and not like the way you think. That’s the beauty of being a human and living in a place that allows us the freedom to do so. Instead of offended, be grateful that you’re able to express your opinion. It’s your right, and everyone else’s, to exercise freedom.

You’re Not Crazy

Health, Psychology

Time is a thing we can’t wait for, but travels by us so fast. Look, half the year is already over. You don’t feel different, except the ache in your knees and kink in your shoulders. Your consciousness is still young, you have all the time in the world. There are days when you want to sink into your bed and stay there, yet you don’t want to give up on life because there are dreams you want to make come true. You feel guilty because you see everyone else who’s worked hard for what they want, achieved it, and here you are, still trying to be better than your current self.

When you were younger, you wanted to be someone else. Every year, you’d think it that it was the year everything would be different. You’d be a different person, a better version as you waited for some inanimate thing in the future to somehow miraculously change you. Nothing changed, and everything stayed the same. You forget that your thoughts, your narrative and opinions can be flawed, because where you live, inside your head, is your own, and of course, it must be right.

You’re tired of trying to be positive all the time. You’re tired of putting on a smiling face and asking menial questions about other people’s boring life. There are certain people that you love, but most everyone else, you could care less if you never saw them again.

It’s okay.

Acceptance is a mindset, an approach of giving ourselves permission to experience our emotions and taking the perspective that they’re human rather than silly, weak, crazy, wrong, dangerous, or beyond our power to ever be able to manage. 

The Irony of Emotional Acceptance by Holly Parker, Ph.D.

It’s okay to feel sad, unmotivated, antisocial, and guilty. It’s human to find days miserable, despite all the fortune you have. It’s normal to be selfish. Not every day is going to be a good day. Not every week or month you’re going to be achieving all that you want to achieve. One day, you could be on top of the world, inspired by life itself, the next, you could be sitting on your couch, avoiding sleep because you know that it means work tomorrow.

Everyone preaches positivity. Everyone tells you that if you look at the brighter side of things, then you’ll be happier. There are countless articles, books, and words of advice on how to be a better version of yourself because the current you isn’t good enough. While these words of wisdom hold truth to them, they also can make you feel worse. Like it’s your fault for not being happy. It’s all within your power to change your emotions.

“Whatever your own experience of sadness, remember it is part of being human and allows us to recognize and value the contrast between feeling happy and sad.  We need these contrasts in order to recognize our own vulnerabilities and those of others and to be able to appreciate our gains and losses.”

Why It’s Good to Feel Sad by Atalanta Beaumont

You don’t want to accept that you can’t control how you feel. Your logic convinces you that those emotions of sadness, anger, and pain are unreliable. You learn not to trust yourself because you’re constantly being questioned why you feel what you feel and told that you can “reframe your paradigm.” Emotions aren’t completely right. Some emotions spring from a misunderstanding, others resurface and morph into another feeling. While all that’s happening, you can’t forget that your emotions are valid.

Regardless of why you feel what you feel, or what caused that emotion, you’re allow to feel that way. Don’t push it away. The more you push away, the more will show up later in life. Instead, let that wave of emotion rush over you, consume you, then pass like a storm. That makes it go away. Once you’ve felt what you’re body wanted you to feel, then analyze it, try to understand what caused it, and decide if it was right or not. You can’t avoid from feeling, and like the weather, you can’t predict when you’re going to feel a certain way. What you can do is let it run its course and self-reflect. No matter how close anyone is to you, they’re not in your head. It’s you, and only you.