One thing that strikes me about depression recovery is how people can become invisible to themselves. They don’t matter, they don’t “count,” and they take themselves out of the picture before anything ever happens.
I know this both professionally and personally. For myself, I know I just gave all I had to my daughters when I was depressed. I gave what I could as a wife and friend, but I put on my best for the girls. Not only did I think of them first, I just didn’t think about me hardly at all. I thought about my state of being and my misery, but I didn’t really think about ME as a whole significant human being.
Granted, it can be tough with a small baby who needs stuff around the clock. The joke about new moms not getting a shower until the afternoon is really no joke. Been there! But it was more than just that for me. Even when I got showered, dressed, “ready” in whatever way, I still didn’t really care for myself like I could have. I couldn’t – I could hardly get past the basics and I was overwhelmed with everything else. I’ve said it before, but it all just felt so hard.
After a while of living like this, I just kind of forgot about myself. I did what I needed to so I could be dressed appropriately for work, for bed, for getting out of the house to get groceries, and so on. I was pseudo-functional, as I stated in a post I wrote yesterday. But being functional and taking care of myself were completely different things.
When you are depressed, a lot of your thoughts tell you that you are so wrong in so many ways. Eventually, you might conclude that it would just be easier if you dropped into a hole somewhere and you didn’t need anything. If there is no way to make up for all your “wrongness,” then at least get out of the way. Don’t make any more fuss than you already are just by existing and breathing air.
You get into a bad mental habit of thinking like this after weeks, months, even years. Finally, when you are fortunate to find help in one form or another, you start to come out of the fog. As you come out of the fog, you discover a great deal about yourself that has changed since you’d been depressed. I forgot how to make myself important to myself and to others. I didn’t say anything if I thought things were touchy or there was conflict. I didn’t take the initiative to do something out of the blue that I enjoyed. Or if I did, I sometimes felt bad about it later. Then I forgot to keep it up. It’s like I felt bad for feeling good.
Depression thinking is the culprit here. Rampant negativism and a flood of shaming thoughts overrides the mind’s ability to fight back. After a while, it’s just easier to let it wash over for a while. When you are in depression recovery, it is important to remember that the flood is under better control.
It is indeed right and salutary that you should enjoy yourself and be significant in the world! The shame talk is not reality, that is the depression. Do not forget yourself, and make sure no one else does either.