Who wouldn’t be depressed after narcissistic abuse!?
Even a couple of years with a narcissist can destroy you, I’m told. Now imagine decades of criticism, projection, shame, trauma. Being someone’s verbal, emotional and yes, sometimes, physical punching bag can really getcha’ down! Who wouldn’t get depression!?!
On the other hand, depression is also wildly genetic. I challenge you to do a psychological family tree to see just how far back you can trace depression, OCD, etc. in your family.
And there are also some fascinating theories linking depression to chemicals and toxins in our environment.
A whole lot of nurture, a whole lot of nature. Whatever the cause, depression sucks.
Depression is like an ache in your mind. Oh, not a physical pain. Nonetheless, it’s incapacitating.
Until I began therapy this year, I didn’t know I had depression. My therapist says I do, but thank God, it’s very mild. As a child, I was quite happy. Yet, there were times when I’d get quiet, sad and withdrawn. I didn’t know why. Mom tried to help me discover what was troubling me. I’m not sure if it really helped, but I always felt better afterwards.
Then, when I was fourteen, I was basically informed that the rest of the family was going to Heaven and I was going to Hell. Things were never the same. I was never happy again. I no longer could feel love. Each day was a conscious struggle to feel happy and act cheerful.
Like most things I do, I probably over-compensated. One time, my pastor told me how I projected so much joy as I sang in the choir. Fooled you too, I thought.
For me, depression is strongest in the afternoons. There’s just something about how afternoon sunlight slants through the windows that’s horrible. Ugh. I hate it! (Or maybe it has nothing to do with the sunlight. Just Google “afternoon depression” for more info.)
That’s the time I give up and hide in the dark bedroom under the warm yellow glow of an incandescent bulb with tealights and incense burning and classical music on the radio. Thanks to the wonders of wireless internet, my laptop and I can still be productive as we wait out the horrible afternoon hours, waiting for the cloak of darkness to fall and the safe, comforting stars to come out.
Recently, I had an epiphany about depression. Unlike my usual in-the-shower epiphanies, this one came during an OCD nightmare: cleaning out the clogged vacuum hose. Horrors!
Suddenly it hit me that at least three generations on one side of my family have shown strong signs of depression.
It isn’t me! It’s just a feeling.
As of that moment, I was done, done, DONE trying to “think my way” out of the feeling of depression. Done taking responsibility for it. Even done blaming the narcissists in my life for it.
You could say I gave up…but it was a good kind of giving up! With tears of relief in my eyes, I told my husband that I was going to take my Vitamin D and stop obsessing about “fixing” the feeling of depression. He encouraged me to find my passion(s) and pursue them.
One of the things we learned in the past is to center our lives around the narcissists. It was easier, and much less painful, to please them than to please ourselves. We abandoned ourselves, our desires, our passions, our hobbies completely. Maybe we didn’t even realize we did it. That’d get anybody down!
In my experience, learning how to live again has helped my depression tremendously. Here’s a few of my techniques. I hope they help you too.
First, don’t obsess about recovery too much. Yes, it’s important but you need to have other interests too for balance. From time to time my Facebook friends tell me they’re leaving XY group. They’re sick of the “narcissism” topic and need to just live for awhile. That’s healthy!
Secondly, always have something you’re looking forward to. This is huge! What do you enjoy? The release of a new movie. A concert. A play. A ballgame. Reconnecting with a friend. Strolling through a mall. It doesn’t have to be extravagant nor expensive. Just something you have a passion for that will be occurring soon, within the next few weeks or months. Perhaps it sounds trite, but I can’t tell you how much this technique has put bounce in my bungee. I’ve always lived from thing-to-look-forward-to until the next thing-to-look-forward-to. It works!
Thirdly, try to remember what your passions are. For years, I neglected my passions because I thought they were stupid. Since I was a tiny girl, people fascinated me. Learning the multiplication tables was rote and boring. But who lost a tooth, burst into tears or peed their pants in class was fascinating. Juvenile psychology, eh! Unfortunately, my dad acted bored with my childish prattle about people. Perhaps any man would, really. Dad just wanted to know what I’d learned in exchange for that expensive tuition he was paying. His attitude tarnished my passion for learning everything I can about the actors and actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood. I assumed it was a stupid passion. Recently, I began pursuing my passion again.
Fourthly, follow your physical rhythms. There’s no right or wrong time to do things. Yeah, I know the narcissists were really rigid about timetables. Screw that! Are you nocturnal? Go for it! Hate washing dishes after supper? Then don’t. Prefer to sleep in two shifts of four hours apiece? Hell yeah! Personally, I go by a system I call “reverse procrastination.” I do everything at all the wrong times. I vacuum first thing in the morning. Wash yesterday’s dishes while I’m cooking tonight’s supper and do the laundry at 11 p.m. I’ve been known to weed the garden in a blinding rain. But hey! The work got done…just at all the “wrong” times.
Fifthly, check out my articles about self-care.
Sixthly, my friends tell me that a brisk walk outside helps. Yeah, okay, I guess so. Just don’t call it “exercise.” I’m allergic to that word!
Hope this helps!