Understanding Depression and the Sinking I Can’t Breathe FeelingBy
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 complete escape from the dark was not attainable.
That was before……..
That was before I found out how I ended up in that swamp
That was before I found out who “they” were ~ the ones who stood around laughing and talking while I was drowning, sinking, and dying only mere feet away.
That was before I fought for my life and fought to find the truth about how I could escape that oppression and darkness that I lived in for so long.
Depression almost killed me but I didn’t know that depression itself was “a result” of something. There was a root to depression ~ there was a reason that depression was so prevalent in my life.
I wanted “someone” to save me and I felt guilty and unjustified in wanting that. I also felt like I was not worth saving. There were roots to those conflicting thoughts too;
- I had been taught growing up that I was nothing without “them” that I needed “them” (people, relatives, adults, teachers) in order to survive. I had been taught to depend on these people for my value and to try harder to obtain that value. Controlling manipulative people always ask for “more”. They want more effort, more proof of submission, more time, more love, more compliance. The more that I tried, the more THEY felt validated. And today I realize that fact is about them; they used me to validate themselves. They made me jump through hoops to prove their own value. They asked for more and more because their own self esteem was so low. AND I believed that if I could make them feel good about themselves, then I would feel good about myself. If I could prove their worth ~ then I would HAVE worth. That is what they taught me. I had no choice but to believe it. There was no other option presented to me.
“I felt hands grabbing at me trying to drag me under” ~ or perhaps those hands were trying to grab at me so they could use me to get themselves OUT from under the water in their own murky swamp. My purpose and value to them was in making them feel better about themselves.. Restoring their order and their value was what they wanted from me, and it was what I wanted to do (because I truly believed that was the only way that I could be valid) ~ but it was never enough.
- I had also been taught that I was unworthy of their approval. Over and over again I failed to restore their value. It was never enough and I didn’t know that restoring the value of another human being is not possible. It was the definition of love that I had learned and I believed it. I kept trying. The truth is that in their view I was not “good enough” or “deserving enough” for “them” to bother saving me. My only value (as they saw it) was in saving them.
Those two conflicting beliefs ~ that I needed “them” the very people who defined me as unworthy in the first place, to validate me and the fact that I (believed) I was indeed not worthy to be validated, warred in the depth of my soul.
As my life progressed I found myself sinking more and more. Descending deeper and deeper; fighting less and less. Murky visions of what it might be like to stop fighting for life (and validation) became more frequent. Sometimes seeing blurry sunlight through the frozen ice above me; perhaps there was hope but I had no idea how to access it. The older I got the more tired I got. The more I fought (the truth) the more I sunk. I was exhausted.
Until; I faced the roots of depression. I finally looked at the truth about the past. Not just the events, but what those events communicated to me about me. What happened to me? What had gone wrong? What was at the root of depression and the way that I felt about myself and my life?
I finally realized how I had been defined by the actions and communications of others and that these trauma events and the hopelessness surrounding them had resulted in the constant depressions.
I realized that validation could come from me.
I started to change the visual. The underwater foliage broke free. I started to see myself kick those hands away. I raised my fist to all those that restrained me. I started to fight back. I got angry at the way that I had been held back, held down and oppressed. I saw the roots of the depression and they were not my lack but someone else’s false definition of my worth. I started to see myself strive for the sunlight. I wanted to be IN that sunlight. I fought to be there. I broke through the ice. I emerged from the depths. I shivered and shook with cold and fear and self doubt but I pressed on. I fought for my life. I fought for my birthright; my original value. I fought for me.
And I won.
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If Happiness is a decision WHY couldn’t I make it ~ Darlene Ouimet