Depression corrodes our confidence and quite often, it brings with it a sense of shame and incessant self-blame. Even though we rationally know that depression is an illness, we might find that we get caught in a loop of beating ourselves up and blaming ourselves for how ill we are.
We Blame Ourselves For Having Depression
We often find that we blame ourselves for having depression. We have thoughts such as ‘I only have depression because I lost my job, which was all my fault’. Or ‘if I wasn’t so lazy my depression would go away’. If we mull it over long enough, we can think of all sorts of reasons why depression is our fault.
Depression is an illness. It’s an illness with a complex set of causes. It’s usually caused by a combination of things. Some might be biological and some might be things that have happened in our lives. Sometimes our actions might have resulted in a consequence that does impact our mood. But, depression is an illness. It’s not our fault.
We Blame Ourselves For Our Symptoms
Depression can come with so many different symptoms. Many of them can be quite anti-social, or can cause us to act in ways we would never behave when well. For example, it can cause us to be extra irritable. This might mean that we snap at our others for no apparent reason. We can then beat ourselves up for snapping at them, which can set off a negative spiral of difficult thoughts. Depression isn’t an excuse – we still need to apologise if we’ve hurt someone. But we need to allow ourselves a bit of kindness; depression does make everything around us feel overwhelming and intimidating, because there’s so much internal noise. We’ll act out of character, because we are out of character.
Sometimes we can learn to manage some of our symptoms. We can learn ways to cope with our increased irritability, for example. But the symptoms themselves are not our fault. It’s not our fault that socialising feels too much. It’s not our fault that we need a lot more sleep than others. It’s not our fault that we get angry sometimes. Depression, and the symptoms that come with it are not our fault.
We Think We Should Snap Out Of It
We tell ourselves that we should just ‘get better’. Other people have it worse. We need to pull ourselves together and stop moping around.
Living with depression is hard and horrible. Other people might have it worse, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t feel absolutely awful. There are little things we can do to help ourselves such as engaging in therapy, upping our self-care, and taking medication as prescribed. But we can’t snap our fingers and immediately be depression-free.
Talk It Out
Sometimes we don’t notice that we’re blaming ourselves for things. We can be really harsh on ourselves without realising. The dialogue in our heads becomes normal to us. We’re so accustomed to having this voice in our head tearing us down and blaming us for everything, that we barely notice it’s happening.
Talking over some of our thoughts with someone else (a friend, family member, health professional or someone else) can help. Talking can help us to identify some of our unhelpful thought patterns. Other people can point out when we’re blaming ourselves for things that aren’t our fault. Identifying them means that we can then work on forgiving ourselves for these things.
It’s Time To Forgive Ourselves
One of the best ways to tackle self-blame is to forgive ourselves. Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. There will always be things that we’re unhappy with. Depression can exacerbate this because it can make us feel worse about ourselves and can cause us to make more mistakes.
It’s time to forgive ourselves for these things. Part of this forgiveness can include taking responsibility for our mistakes, (which is different from blaming ourselves). Once we’ve done that, we can forgive ourselves, ask for forgiveness from others, and move on. Nobody is perfect. Making mistakes is often how we learn in life; we didn’t walk the first time we tried, we stumbled and tumbled, again and again.
We’re Only Human
Having depression isn’t a ‘slip up’, or a mistake that we’ve made. It’s an illness. Blaming ourselves for depression means that a lot of energy is being used up on giving depression power; it loves us to feel crappy about ourselves as that keeps us where we are.
We are important and valuable. We are wonderful people with unique personalities and quirks. We have our good bits and less-good bits, just like anyone else. We are a work in progress. We will slip up. We will make mistakes – and that’s okay! We can forgive ourselves and ask for forgiveness from others if need be.
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