Judgement, Stigma, Depression ~ Come from Somewhere

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stigma of depression
The Stigma of Depression

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;

Darlene Ouimet

Great Article by Jonathan Rottenberg on Psychology Today about the Stigma of Mental Health Issues

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

 

110 response to "Judgement, Stigma, Depression ~ Come from Somewhere"

  1. By: Kylie Posted: 26th September 2012

    Thank you Darlene,

    I certainly will keep reading your blogs. Very inspiring and thought provoking. Looking forward to being involved with everyone in here.

  2. By: Kylie Posted: 26th September 2012

    Depression. After reading all the posts, l know that l’m not alone. I’ts a horrible thing to have. I was finally diagnosed with Dysthymia. I notice there’s not much said about it, but l hope to raise some awareness around it. I have been stuck in a feeling for so long, that its just depression. It’s treatable. Then l wonder why l still feel low most of the time. There’s no sense of enjoyment left. I lost faith in doctors and specialists, as the psychic pain simply doesn’t go away. It’s a real struggle getting by day by day, some days being worse, other days, not too bad. It gets scary for me when suicidal thinking becomes the norm. It’s not something l’m very open about (there’s that stigma), yet it seems to be a normal way of thinking. I deny it when asked hoping that having the issue raised will somehow knock some reality into me and make me forget all that thinking. But it doesn’t. Then l get to thinking of all those who could not cope with life and it often makes me despair, that no-one really took the time to understand them. But then maybe, they didn’t open up and couldn’t see any hope for their future, and ending it all, was the only option. Depression like dysthymia is a very real medical condition. I thought l was just making excuses for everything and l needed this to be validated. Depression is agony and if you know anyone suffering, please listen empathically to them.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th September 2012

      Hi Kylie
      Welcome to emerging from broken!
      You are certainly not alone! I struggled with deep depression for many years until I found the root of it and addressed that root. I am really glad that you are here. There is a lot of support in this site. There is a lot of discussion about finding those “roots”.
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Paul Posted: 6th August 2012

    Totally agree. Being a man, most men view it as weakness, as I did. Thinking I am weak because I am depressed makes me feel more depressed and weak. Violence is a tell tale sign of a depressed man, not a macho man. Thanks for your article, it helped a lot.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th August 2012

      Hi Paul
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken
      Thank you for your comment. Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Aurele Posted: 21st July 2012

    Hi Darlene,

    For me, I had to carry the burden of the depression of my father.
    He convinced me that if he wasn’t feel good it was only my fault.
    This processus helped him to feel better and to avoid the real causes of his depression and to see he had a problmem.

    And of course I thought he was right.I thought I was responsible of him. I thought his anger towards me was due to my fault, I thought I was responsible and guilty for his sadness. I thought I was a bad person.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st July 2012

      Hi Aurele
      I totally relate to that! It has been a very big part of my process to UN LEARN that stuff and to realize how wrong it was.
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Karen Ranes Posted: 25th April 2012

    “I don’t believe that any of us were born depressed. I believe, & this is just my opinion,that many of us who were abused found out that anger wasn’t a safe or acceptable emotion with our abusers. Neither was grief…”

    Yes, in my family the “bad” emotions of anger, grief, or hurt and disappointment were unacceptable and denied, but also the “good” emotions…excitement, extreme joy over an accomplishment, any show
    of any emotion was unacceptable. I never could stop myself from expressing however and always expressed the good ones…and was always punished and punished and punished for being abnormal.
    I have had a major episode of clinical depression, actually quite textbook, but at the time I didn’t understand what was happening.
    I stupidly went to my parents for a break for some get away time. They decided the best thing would be to treat it with alcohol. Bought me vodka and told me to drink it when I felt upset.
    Never consider that I might need real help. It was another sign of my defectiveness to my family.
    After showing them that weakness the “distain” was much worse. Not just a drama queen but
    crazy too.
    I recovered my balance alone, went back to work and hoped it would never happen again.
    After my son’s suicide all the self doubts and esteem issues and depression have come back..
    Quite in the bottom of the pit, I found this blog a couple of months ago.
    Wow!! Darlene’s posts and all the amazing responses have shown me that it wasn’t me..it really wasn’t..
    I was carefully trained, demeaned and abused. Even when I broke away, I was still or should say am still
    punishing myself for my “badness”. But now I see. Each day I try to take control back consciously, defeat my
    depressive thinking..they really are just MY thoughts putting me there. But I always Believed in my
    complete badness. Small steps now towards taking back my life. Thank you all.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th April 2012

      Hi Karen
      I agree; not being encouraged to feel healthy emotions is a huge part of how the “shut down” happens! Being punished for having emotions is a breeding ground for depression! And yes, my family also used my depression as “proof” that the problem was me.
      I love your victory sentences at the end of your comments! It really wasn’t YOU!
      Thank you for sharing Karen!
      Hugs, Darlene

  6. By: Risé Posted: 25th April 2012

    I too believe that depression starts somewhere. Amazing though, that in our society today, its rampant. Can it be the because of the breakdown of the family unit where people are more concerned about their work, careers, etc. instead of people?? Just asking, because I don’t know – its a guess. Gone are the days where ‘villages’ raised children – I remember when society would aid in correcting kids when they were caught doing something they weren’t supposed to be doing – now, everyone turns blind eyes … especially where there is abuse. ESPECIALLY where there is abuse. How is it that we have been conditioned to not get involved in someone’s welfare, especially the welfare of the child? Neglecting someone – their needs and time of need – is so damaging … and abuse does it well.

    My depression is linked to my mother’s abuse and neglect of me. I am attempting going off meds right now … its been a little over a month now and is going well. But there are days I want to start again – but I stop, breathe and talk myself out of reaching for it. I think depression always has a cause – a start place. Maybe the lack of seratonin (sp?) in the brain is decreased not because it just happens, but because something happened. I firmly believe I struggle with it because I don’t know who I am. I’ve been discovering who I am – but some of me is still foggy. All the anxiety I suffer stems from a very critical and degrading mother in my life. It’s no wonder that anxiety and depression snuck up on me and clipped my heal.

    Great post, Darlene!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th April 2012

      Hi Rise,
      I don’t know if a return to the past is the way to go. In my mothers generation the silence was worse! My grandmothers was worse again. I don’t think people got involved back then either. I think depressions were just as bad, just not as known or talked about. Not as much treatment either. Neglect was accepted back in the old days. uggg… Depression comes from somewhere alright!
      That is great that you are able to go off meds! That was a tough time for me ~ be gentle with yourself.
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Wolfmother Posted: 25th April 2012

    “…and that because she didn’t have the tools that she needed to raise an emotionally healthy child, I too was placed at risk.”

    This resonates with me greatly especially since I am in the field of early childhood education and the most profound influence on a child’s emotional intelligence is how their parents handle and deal with their own stress and negative feelings. Processing emotions in a healthy manner is a learned skill picked up from observing those in your immediate environment and those children who grow up in homes where there is psychological dysfunction are at risk of developing coping mechanism as a way to adapt to their troubling environment. This is something I have had to deal with personally myself, with both parents unable to process negative feelings and instead employ denial and invalidation as a tool for ignoring those uncomfortable emotions. I’ve had to explore my own wounds about being raised in this environment in order to not treat my own children the same way and it is a grueling process, learning to think so differently but very much worth the effort.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th April 2012

      Hi Wolfmother
      Welcome to EFB ! Yes this is another factor; learned coping methods ~ I have written lots about this as well. It is so helpful when we look at all these factors in order to re parent ourselves properly on this journey!
      Thank you for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: dave Posted: 26th December 2011

    D – i have never thought about my trauma being neglected. I have thought of me being neglected a lot but not my trauma. I didnt even know i had PTSD until about 5 years ago. I am still struggling with how to treat it, what to do about it, what type of therapy i need, if any. I love getting your perspective because again its like we grew up in the same home. My mother was also abused and had PTSD from early childhood. I grew up trying to meet every need she had and fill that “black hole” within her that could never be filled. my father paid little attention to her. He had severe depression and had PTSD from WW II that never was treated. So not only did i have a narcissistic, abusive mother who was a train wreck, i had a father who was checked out and basically angry all the time.

    I still struggle mightily with getting my needs met. Its very difficult as a male to find healthy relationships with other christian men. There seem to be very few of them in our society. If Jesus is our model (and he is) then why are so many men so screwed up and unwilling to seek change/help/growth in order to become more like christ ?!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th December 2011

      Hi Dave
      You may find the answers to all those questions in some of the writings here and also through your own healing. Many of these types of questions I had always had became clear to me when I did the work I had to do.
      Hugs, Darlene

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