Archive for Depression
If you have not already downloaded my complimentary Guide to Getting Unstuck on the Journey to Emotional Healing, please grab a copy of it now! There is a box in the right hand side bar here>>> just fill in your first name (or any name you wish to use) and your primary email address and you will be sent the download link. In this 9 page mini booklet I answer some of the most popular questions that I get here on the Emerging from Broken blog, privately through the contact form and on the Emerging from Broken Facebook Page.
Welcome to the discussion page for the Guide to Getting Unstuck on the Journey to Emotional Healing.
As you may notice when you read the guide, there is a common thread expressed through the most popular questions that I get asked. Behind the questions is the belief that the people who have been authority in our lives are ‘right’. That if the people that have authority in our lives say in words or with actions such as disregard or disrespect, that we don’t deserve better or that we are not worthy, then for some reason their opinion is not questioned as much as it is ‘accepted’.
This is because for most of us it was communicated to us from a very young age that ‘they’ know best and that ‘they’ are right and that ‘they’ are not to be questioned. This belief is linked to the belief that ‘without them’ we may not survive. As an adult I had to work very hard at realizing that I COULD survive; through facing the origins of my belief system and how it was formed I was able to see my own strength; I was able to take my life back and learn to love myself and take care of myself. I learned this by seeing the truth about why I believed that I was ‘less important’ and why I ‘accepted’ that my needs were less valid than the needs of others. Seeing the roots of why I believed this about myself enabled me to see that it was a lie and that I was just as worthy and valid as everyone else on this planet!
People in authority are not always right just because they are in authority. I had not considered that truth when I was a child and growing up because of my dependence on those people. Going against the adults and caregivers in my life threatened my survival and therefore my life. That was true then. Seeing that it was no longer true was a huge part of how I was able to take my life back and overcome the manifestations of trauma, abuse and neglect. (When I refer to the manifestations I am referring to the resulting struggles such as depressions, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative identity disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, low self-esteem and a few other common issues.)
There is another common belief expressed behind these questions; it leaks out through the questions how many of us had never been taught that we have the right to have boundaries and how habitual it is to accept that our feelings are not valid. I was taught that I ‘had’ to accept things the way they were. The funky part of that teaching is that many of the things I learned to accept were truly unacceptable but they were so normalized that I didn’t know they were wrong; in some cases the treatment was even Read More→
“You can’t solve the problems of today by using the same thinking that created them” Einstein
As I started to go through the healing process I realized that there were roots to the feelings of loneliness and that feeling of being alone. I felt let down in a world where I didn’t fit in and didn’t belong and believed I wasn’t worthy of the love that I craved. I believed that I had brought on my own problems that I created the life of depression that I lived in and believed that if I could just figure out what was wrong with me then everything would be okay. I believed this stuff because it had been communicated to me through the actions of other people.
I started to realize that some of the things that had happened to me left me believing that I was somehow lacking and that I was somehow undeserving of the love that other people deserved. As I progressed farther into my emotional healing journey, I realized that my own parents had contributed to those beliefs and were still contributing to them well into my adult life. I was a disappointment to my parents and nothing I did was ever “good enough” and as I grew older I was beginning to comprehend that nothing I ever accomplished was EVER going to be “good enough”.
When I first started this website I never intended to talk about my parents as part of where the problem began. I thought I could just keep it about the belief system development resulting from trauma and I could just sort of keep my parents out of it.
As my confidence grew, I started to write about some specific incidents with my mother and father that caused some of the false beliefs about myself to take root in my belief system. And when I started to get really specific about Read More→
“I learned to set boundaries by realizing where they were missing in my life. I learned where they were missing in my life by seeing the truth about abuse etc. As long as my value was in question (by me as a result of the way I had been defined) I could not set boundaries.” Darlene Ouimet
I googled the key words “setting personal boundaries” and the top info I found on it included understanding the abusers and not judging or placing blame on them because after all, we are all wounded souls! No wonder we have so much trouble healing from abuse! Oh it all sounds so lovely, but the truth is that I healed by setting ALL that aside after trying it that way for well over 20 years with the main result being that the depressions only increased and my boundaries got weaker. (see the links at the end of this post)
Have you ever thought about why setting personal boundaries is so dang hard in the first place? Here in Emerging from Broken, I always talk about how everything has a root. Depression starts somewhere. We are not born with low self esteem. And it is the root of both those things that makes setting personal boundaries so hard!
When I was defined as “not good enough” or “not worthy” by the actions of others in my life, it is understandable that I believed that definition of “me”. And as long as I believed that the definition of me was correct, I didn’t believe I had a right to HAVE boundaries. I didn’t believe that I had a choice in my own life about what kind of treatment I had to accept. I didn’t understand that I was being treated badly and that I had a right to say no to that treatment.
There was a root to why I had no idea Read More→
I was not always who I am today. I was not strong. I was not independent. I was not an individual. I was not often happy. I was not a voice in the darkness and although I always had a desire to advocate for others, I was not effective.
I had to become effective in my own life before I was effective in the lives of others.
I was a victim. Some would rather I say that I was a survivor but in truth when I started this process I was still a victim. I was still a victim because I was still oppressed. I was still under the law of other people. I was still compliant and obedient. I was still defined by those other people and my true identity was suppressed.
I was lost, withdrawn and depressed. I was owned by many and disrespected by most. I had three kids and when my oldest, who was 12 at the time started to treat me like I was ‘crazy’ and started using my depression as proof that I was crazy ~ just like his father (my husband) did, I knew that I had reached the end of what I could cope with. I was giving up on the fight for my life. The only decision that I had to make was how I was going to end it. I had to decide if I was going to Read More→
Depression began at a very young age for me. I think that fact added to the belief that I was somehow defective and different from other people.
Depression always began with a sinking feeling. Sometimes I fought it. When I fought depression it felt like I was fighting in a mud bog and I was too tired to battle my way out. It felt like my legs were tangled up in vines or underwater foliage and I couldn’t get free of them. They were pulling me under. I could see and feel hands grabbing at me, trying to drag me down. “Something” or “someone” was pulling me under.
Sometimes I felt like someone was sitting on my chest and holding me down. Holding me back; Keeping me under; I felt like I was fighting just to be seen. I felt like I was drowning in a deep black swamp and people were standing around but they didn’t notice me. People, only a few feet away and they could not see how close to death that I was. And they didn’t CARE. They were laughing and talking as though they were at a cocktail party and no one cared that I was thrashing around, fighting for my life and sinking in that swamp.
Many times I thought it would be so much easier just to give in and let the dark water close over me. But it never took me completely. No matter how tired I got, I lived a partial death but Read More→
“We are so used to such phrases that most people don’t even notice them. But there are some who do notice them; people who have decided to analyze the words of adults from the perspective of the child are arriving at new knowledge and no longer afraid of letting in the light. They see that the destruction of a human life is not to be described as “ambivalent parental love” but must be recognized for what it is: a crime”. Alice Miller ~ Banished Knowledge ~ facing childhood injuries
Have you ever thought about the statement “leave well enough alone”? What the heck is “well enough”? What does that even mean and who gets to decide what “well enough” is. It is actually more of a command or a directive then a statement. Someone else is dictating what I should do or shouldn’t do and even telling me how I should or shouldn’t FEEL. (Because we never want to revisit anything that we don’t have strong feelings about)
I can tell you that in the old system, it was certainly not me who got to decide what “well enough” was! It is certainly not the person who is suffering from the damage of what happened that got to decide what needed to be left alone or not. And I can assure you that the person who was invalidated and mistreated is not Read More→
I believe that depression comes from somewhere and that it starts somewhere. I don’t believe that I was born with it, or that I was born with something missing in me that would later determine that I would struggle with depression. I don’t believe that my mother, who struggled with multiple depressions, passed her condition down to me. I believe that my mother had her own post traumatic stress and abuse that caused her struggles and break downs, and that because she didn’t have the tools that she needed to raise an emotionally healthy child, I too was placed at risk. I was not protected from the things that caused my trauma; both me and the trauma were neglected. My self esteem and personal value and individuality was never established.
I would even go so far as to say that my depressions were a coping method. They were a way for me to shut down and to get through the overwhelming circumstances in my life. They were a way that enabled me to survive.
That is what I have come to understand now ~ that is my NEW belief system, and coming to understand this and all my other false belief systems greatly assisted me in overcoming my constant depressions and in living beyond depression. That is what I used to believe about depression, so now what about the old belief system that I broke out of?
The Stigma of Depression
There is a huge stigma in our society about mental health struggles. There is a universal judgment about depression and about Read More→
“The best way to keep relationships happy, healthy, and supportive can be summed up in one word: appreciation. What you appreciate, appreciates. When we demonstrate our appreciation for the support we receive from others, it reinforces that behaviour and deepens our connection to them.” Marci Shimoff
This is a beautiful quote. I tried to live my life by these types of quotes in the past, never realizing that they were extremely conflicting for me. Today, this quote works for me in the relationships that I have now but in the past a quote like this actually caused internal, subconscious, harm.
Without realizing it, I was trying to appreciate people who were treating me badly. I didn’t think that I deserved support; I don’t think I even knew what it was so I didn’t see that key part of the quote. Instead, I kept trying to see the positive in abusive people and overlook the negative. That was how I viewed quotes like this one. I thought it meant that I should just ignore the mean stuff. But trying to overlook someone’s ill treatment of me was the same as agreeing with them that I wasn’t really worth being treated properly.
Trying to appreciate a person who devalues you is conflicting; it’s like putting a band-aid on top of a severed limb that requires surgery, stitches, recovery time and then rehabilitation.
I am one of those people who fought against depression all my life. I was bi-polar, likely from a very young age and depressions were connected to my dissociative identity disorder issues. I began seeking solutions in self help programs, seminars and self help books when I was eighteen years old. I started in 12 step meetings when I was eighteen too. And for reasons that I could never understand, no matter how much I tried to work those steps, they too were like a band-aid when I needed surgery.
In the past when I read a quote like this one by Marci Shimoff I tried to focus on appreciating the people in my life that were devaluing me, defining me as not good enough, controlling me and squishing me into the ground. I tried to concentrate on how wonderful they were and thought that if I was more appreciative ~ which in a victim mindset means more compliant and more subservient, that they would finally reciprocate and appreciate me. This was all part of my victim mentality which whispered in the deepest part of my mind and belief system, that if I could just find the magic secret recipe for how to make them LOVE me, that they would stop hurting me and love me.
Today I understand and appreciate quotes like this one. I had to get the victim mentality (that I lived in and survived by) sorted out and set right first though. I had to clean up the old foundation ~ which was rotting and full of gaping life sucking lies and build a new strong and sturdy foundation before quotes like these could serve me. Trying to implement positive thinking quotes in the past added to my already low self esteem. Subconsciously I just jumped to guilt, shame, self blame and failure thoughts.
Having realized my own value and truly embraced it has enabled me to appreciate the people in my life today from a more truthful and equal viewpoint and THAT has deepened the connections. Appreciation is no longer a one way street. Now that I know my own value, it is easier to appreciate others for who they really are too.
Please share your thoughts about one sided appreciation or about how this article resonates with you.
All abuse, whether it is emotional and psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or spiritual abuse, is abuse and that these articles that I write on Emerging from Broken apply to ALL kinds of abuse. I intentionally make a connection between depression, dissociation, multiple personality, eating disorders, addictions and other mental health struggles and abuse. It is my experience that my difficulties and struggles were birthed in how I learned my value or rather my lack of it. The following article is not just about mother daughter dysfunctional relationship. It is about ALL dysfunctional relationship. How it starts in childhood, how it goes from there. How it ends up in coping methods that although necessary for survival, become self destructive.
The subject of not wanting the abuser to leave me and wondering why they did is SO complicated! For me, one of the things it has to do with is compliance and how much of my life that I spent trying harder for them. The deeper that I look at the roots of my belief system, the more that I can figure out where things got off the track. First of all there are the tons and tons of mixed and conflicting messages that we get both from right sources and wrong sources. They all kind of go into the same pot and they mesh with each other. Remember the story of how when my mother declared that it was my fault that her boyfriend came in my room in the night to sexually assault me because I had a crush on him. Well because my self esteem was already so damaged that I believed her, I added that self blame to everything that ever happened to me before that event. Then there were a few things in my past where I was not such a perfect child, like the time I faked the nightmare for attention, and when a child is a mere child, it doesn’t take much for things to get really mixed up in the memory, the mind and then in the belief system. The grid that we try to process things through, gets damaged.
I had to look at the “foundational foundation” to start with. That is the belief that we need and depend on whoever our caregivers are for our very lives, protection, security, the things that children need to grow into healthy adults. And when something happens that alters those basic needs, we have a problem. We get this split belief about love somewhere along the way and we start to believe that love is something that it isn’t. My mother taught me my value, she taught me the version of LOVE that she believed, but it isn’t real love. So I think that what she is doing is love, and I used to say “I know she loves me, I know she is doing her best”.. but today I know differently. She doesn’t love me at all. She uses me to make her feel better about herself. But it doesn’t work and it isn’t good enough and it hurts me every time. Where is the love in that? Part of my recovery was realizing what love is and what it is not.
When I told my mother that I was not willing to have a relationship on her terms, she finally asked me what “my terms” were. I told her that from now on she could no longer say that I had a crush on her boyfriend when I was just a kid and that was why he came in my room in the night. AND I told her that I was sick of having to prove to her husband that I liked him. I guess my terms were too high.
She was silent. She did not respond to any of the “terms” I stated. Then she told ME to think about our talk and get back to her and I said no mom, you can think about it and get back to me. I could write a whole other blog post about how everything was always up to me but that particular time I had given her MY terms, what the heck was I supposed to think about? That was the last time that we spoke.
And the message that I got from her withdrawal was that I was not worth her trying for. If I was going to draw boundaries and demand equal value then forget it. She said NO. The message was that I was only good for kicking around. If she had to respect me, then she didn’t want to be bothered with me at all. And that message meant to me that I am NOT worth it. After all the years of loyalty and compliance. After keeping my mouth shut about her boyfriends ~ I wasn’t worth her effort. I had never stood up to her all those years. I didn’t dump HER. I put up with all of the degrading in front of the whole world. I stood silent when she told men they could sleep with me because I was on the pill even though I was only a teenager! I didn’t even tell the family therapist (we had to go because my brother got arrested) what was really going on in our home or how she treated me. I let her take me to bars as a man magnet when I was 17 and I never said a word; I followed HER one sided definition of love and loyalty and I kept thinking that one day it would pay off ~ AND she dumped ME! It was incomprehensible! This was just the most unbelievable “thing” for me to try and comprehend. I was such a GOOD VICTIM and it was all for NOTHING? Because when it came right down to it, I was not worth her effort.
And it feels like rejection, because IT IS REJECTION.
As the months went by I felt more and more shock and disbelief as these truths sunk in. But something else was happening. I realized that I didn’t miss the abuse. I didn’t miss having to constantly do damage control and make sure SHE was okay. I didn’t miss having the joy sucked out of every single exciting moment in my life. I didn’t miss the put downs, the insults, the sexual innuendos or the family problems that she caused with her gossip and trouble making. I didn’t miss the anxiety.
And I started to grow. I started to come out of the fog in a much bigger way; I had so much more clarity about the truth and realized how many lies about myself that I had accepted.
This whole story does not just apply to parents; I had a couple of boyfriends who fit this same pattern. Oh and a few friends too. And employers…………. well you get the picture.
Please share your journey, struggles or victories or whatever you need to share for your recovery.
Exposing Truth one snapshot (or two) at a time
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Related Posts: The little girl who Cried Wolf ~ Belief system development