Depression and Self Blame.

What would you say if I told you that Life Loves You and the Universe wants the Best for You?

You might think I really have lost my mind, and that I’m talking a load of rubbish.

During my struggle with anxiety and depression, I would have said that the world was against me I hated myself and the universe couldn’t care less about me.

Self blame and self loathing are a big problem that people with depression have to battle, this generally stems from the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and a general feeling of having no control in your life.

Many times I have berated myself for the situation that Kim and I were in.  I blamed myself because if I was not the way I was I could have continued to work, earn money and then Kim would not have been under so much pressure.

Throw in my addiction to alcohol, and issues with managing money, and the situation was made even worse.  Addictions are very destructive, mainly for the person trying to care for you.  When I got anxious and depressed I would use alcohol as a form of self medication.  Sometimes I would drink to a point where I would fall asleep and would be out for the count when Kim came home.  This understandably made her upset, and as these episodes became more frequent she felt a lot of anger.

After these episodes I would feel even worse, and beat myself up even more; my mind would fill with negative thoughts like:

I’m stupid.

I’m an idiot.

What’s wrong with me?

I know what I am doing is wrong, but I can’t stop.

I’m a waste of space.

Kim would be better off without me around.

I could go on, but you get the picture……

Depression - Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

My GP said that I needed to accept that I was unwell….. This sounds simple and obvious, but it was something I really struggled with.  If I had broken a leg then it would have been easy to accept that I need to take time to heal, and it would obviously have restricted me from doing certain things.  The problem with mental health is that you do not feel terrible all of the time, and there is no bandage wrapped around your head to let the world know that you are not well.

I have written previously about the anxiety and panic vicious cycle; depression is very much the same.  When you are depressed, you have a really bad view of yourself; it can reach a level where you think you are a bad person, even evil.  With these thoughts, you perceive that anything that goes wrong is generally your fault and nothing anyone says can change your view.

I blamed myself for so much of what happened; for getting ill in the first place, that somehow I was weaker than other people; I struggled to do things that would help me, even the dog’s bad behaviour was my fault.

One day Kim and I were talking, she said she felt really tired and was struggling; I immediately replied that I was sorry and it was because of me; this made Kim feel worse, and I blamed myself for that as well, and so the cycle continued.

I also discussed this with my therapist, and she asked me to put an image to my self-loathing; what I came up with was that it looked like a very big baseball bat!  It was an old bat, for some reason over 100 years old (don’t ask me where that came from) and it was covered in dents and scratches.

Old Stick - Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash

It didn’t take us long to figure out that I constantly used this bat to whack myself over the head, and was constantly beating myself up (not literally of course).

I also figured out that I was struggling because I have always prioritised helping other people over helping myself.  I was so stressed about the pressure I was putting on Kim that I didn’t give myself any consideration at all.

I have read a book called ‘Depression – The Way Out of Your Prison’, by Dorothy Rowe (I would highly recommend that anyone living with a depressed person reads this book, as well as just those suffering with depression) and it really helped me to understand what was going on (Amazon link below).

Dorothy Rowe writes that it is not how we react to things in our life that is important, but how we interpret things.  It took me a while to get my head around this, but with Kim’s help I think I got there.

If you take the example of a parent disciplining their child, the parent may say “it is for your own good”, or “you have been bad”, or “We’re so disappointed in you”.  It is not the act of the punishment that stays with the child but it is their interpretation of what they are being told; basically that they are bad.

When Kim said she was struggling, I interpreted it that she was saying “that I ‘m doing all the work, I am tired and it’s all your fault”.

I realised that this was not what she was saying.  I thought to myself “Who am I to think this is all about me?  Is Kim not allowed to have any feelings?  Is she not allowed to feel frustrated or angry after a stressful day at work?  Maybe someone at work upset her, and it’s nothing to do with me at all?”

This bombshell hit me and it was the first step in reducing my depression.  There is a lot more to beating depression, this is just a little piece to the puzzle.

More recently I have been reading books on self love and gratitude.  When I say self love, I don’t mean that you need to be selfish and self centred, it is about looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you are a good person, you are competent and you are lovable.  Thinking in this way will help you feel more confident and help you to live in the present.

Self Love - Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash

So, when you next find yourself blaming yourself for doing something, stop, accept the situation and look to change it if you can in a positive way; remind yourself that you are a good person, you don’t have to be perfect because that is impossible.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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