I’m ashamed of my past because it doesn’t go along with my desired image. I want to be seen in a positive light and this can consume me. I fear being judged. There’s no freedom in this. I know image is crap, but it still hooks me. Shame and guilt keep me hiding the real me, and hiding sucks. Hiding causes depression.
I’m ashamed that I used to drink heavily to cope. I lived in the pacific northwest in the early 90’s and became a fan of alternative “grunge” rock. I’ve been embarrassed to admit that as well. Chris Cornell’s death from suicide in May of 2017 is a reminder of how everyone can struggle (he was in Soundgarden, one of my favorite bands). It challenges me to be more open about my own problems.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”. – Maya Angelou
You don’t know what’s going on for someone inside. Outside appearances mean squat. Even with all I know about mental health, I’m uncomfortable admitting that I get depressed. At these times, I feel all alone. I forget how to enjoy life. It takes all the energy I have to get out of bed. I get consumed by irrational thoughts.
My Thoughts When I’m Down
- “I’m going to feel down like this for the rest of my life.”
- “Why is my life so much harder than others.”
- “People see me as weak”
- “How can people pay me to help them when I cannot help myself”
- “Every part of my life is a mess”
None of these thoughts are based on reality, but they are MY REALITY. So real at the time they become facts to me. So real I can see how people could make major decisions based on thoughts like these.
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Here’s the truth: Depressed people explain negative circumstances very differently than other people.
Depression “explains” situations as being personal, pervasive, and permanent (The 3 P’s).
The 3 P’s
Personal: Nobody can relate to what I’m going through. Something is wrong with me.
Pervasive: It’s not just one aspect of my life that isn’t going well, BUT my entire life sucks.
Permanent: What I’m experiencing now will never get any better. I’m DOOMED.
“To live without Hope is to Cease to live.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky
When I’m deeply honest with myself about my irrational perspective, I’m able to get distance from these depressing thoughts. It’s counter-intuitive, but it ALWAYS means choosing to leave the battle (surrender) of rationalization and just accept my thinking rather than punishing myself for it. Then, and only then, does the honesty come.
The Honest Truth (Using the 3 P’s)
- “Lots of people struggle”
- “I’m really not alone. I have support.”
- “I can use my challenges to help others.”
- “This is painful, but it’s not permanent. It will get better.”
“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced … It is that absence of being able to envision that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.” – J.K. Rowling
You can use the 3 P’s as a tool. They challenge me to recognize that my despair isn’t permanent, that I’m not alone (personal), and that I have many positives aspects to my life (pervasive). There’s ALWAYS HOPE. Practice distancing yourself from despairing thoughts by using this tool.
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