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 the people that suffer with depression. We pick it up from movies and television, books, our family’s belief systems and jokes about people who see therapists. Even the people that suffer with depression have belief systems about depression that have formed from society and from little things we picked up from others along the way and the false beliefs that were passed down to us from others. I had a belief system that had developed about depression, but I didn’t even realize that I had it; I certainly didn’t realize I had the wrong definition!
Where did I get my definition of Depression?
My mother struggled with multiple depressions as I was growing up. As I grew up, I thought she was “fragile” and unable to cope. Sometimes I resented that she had these dark times of struggle because she didn’t have time for me and I ended up on some level feeling as though her depressions wrecked my life. I was afraid of depression. I was afraid of having “it”. My first serious depression began when I was ten years old.
I also picked up that my mother’s “condition” was not something that we should talk about. I learned that it was best to pretend that nothing was wrong. This was all part of how I learned the “stigma” that goes along with depression.
One of the worst things that also contributed to my overall belief system is that I learned that somehow I could help her if I acted a certain way or didn’t get in her way and didn’t upset her. She had to be treated with kid gloves, or there would be a price to pay. I learned by her actions and the consequences of my actions, that her depressions were somehow my responsibility and even my fault.
So, because of the beliefs that I had collected along the way, and how I saw my own mother being regarded as someone who suffered with depression as well as her often out of control actions, I had this idea that depression meant that ‘the depressed person’ could not handle life. Nobody wants to be seen that way.
How I applied the acquired beliefs to myself and to my own depressions
Subconsciously, I came to the conclusions that If I could not cope with life, (and this is a biggie) then I had to let other people handle things for me. I had to agree with their opinions of me, (because they could handle life) and I accepted that I could not possibly have a valuable opinion. I couldn’t be right, I couldn’t know my own thoughts and feelings; I believed that I was paranoid, that I was over reactive and always wrong.
And isn’t that exactly what certain controlling people in my life would want me to think and feel? Because when I felt that way, when I believed all of that, I willingly comply to their wishes, accept their opinions and direction and I always believed and easily accepted that any difficulty that I have with others was MY fault. It was My defect. It was what was lacking in me and what was wrong with me.
When I was medically diagnosed with depression it even proved to ME that I was all those things, because of the beliefs that I had accepted about depression along the way. It was pretty easy for others to get away with treating me even worse than before. I easily accepted blame and I had no trouble accepting that the burden of every relationship was mine, because I believed that I was the one that had the problem.
Can you see how the stigma of depression starts and how even I affected myself with it?
Can you see how those established beliefs are then used for the purpose of controlling someone else? People WITH depressions even use it against others with depression, because in our society we learned that the one with the most control over others “wins”. Depressions are used as PROOF that we are “Not Right” and that our opinions are not valid.
I had to realize this belief system, as far back as it went and change the very roots of my thinking.
Please share your thoughts.
Shining light in new places;
Great Article by Jonathan Rottenberg on Psychology Today about the Stigma of Mental Health Issues
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