Tag Archives: embarrassment

The Nothingness of Depression.

black-and-white-person-woman-girl

I am depressed today. And I don’t know where it comes from.

Is it a chemical reaction to something I’ve eaten? Is it related to my yearly battle with Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD)? Is it because I’m not being “true to myself,” and I’m stuffing emotions that I should be expressing, taking out and examining for a deeper meaning?

I don’t know. And I don’t care.

Years ago I was at my chiropractor’s office getting an adjustment. As he was asking about what was going on in my life, I mentioned I was somewhat depressed. His condescending response held the phrase, “…when you start feeling sorry for yourself…” I never went back to his office, even though I had been getting adjustments from him for years.

It was obvious he had no experience with depression. It was obvious he though “feeling sorry for yourself” was the same as depression. It is not. For me, even sadness has nothing to do with depression.

Depression is about “nothingness.”

Fast forward to just about a year ago. As a Hypnotherapist, I was learning a new technique to acquire a new tool to help my clients. This type of technique involves assisting the client to reprogram their thoughts and responses. As a part of the process, the client is encouraged to choose a better way of thinking (a “preferred response”), and to really make the new, better response very intense and active in their mind.

During the training, the instructor, while going over methods to use with clients who are depressed, said something about how “depressed patients are lazy,” because they don’t want to think of anything better.

Again, obviously he’s never been depressed. Because nothing could be further from the truth. It has nothing to do with wanting. It has everything to do with unable. Feeling sorry for yourself is light years away from true depression.

Depression is when there is nothing but deep darkness. I can’t even rise up enough to think about thinking of something better. “Something better” does not exist in depression. Depression is it’s own dark abyss where nothing else exists and movement is difficult, if not impossible.

Light and “preferred responses” cannot penetrate the lethargy, the fog, the thickness. “Something better” does not compute from within depression. It is not that depressed folks are lazy and therefore can’t remember a happier time; it is that happy does not exist; the past and future do not exist. Only darkness exists—in an eternal, deep, sucking Now. There is no direct route from depressed to happy.

The depressed person cannot move—in thought or body. Depression pushes down and pulls down, all at once, sucking me further in. It is stagnant and dark and terrifying, but I am too lethargic to react, too drugged with heaviness and apathy, to even express the terror. I get pulled in so deeply, that it physically hurts to open my eyes (my mind’s eyes, as well as my physical eyes) to try and look for something other than this black Now.

I usually find myself begging out loud for mercy, asking, “please…please…please…,” not wanting to continue the descent. The begging is as close as I can get to movement, to doing something proactive, to praying. I begin begging because, for me, there are levels of depression, and I don’t want to keep sinking. I beg for at least a full stop. I beg because I know how horrible it is further down in there, and please God I don’t want to go to that level again—please, not this time.

Depression sucks the will out of me. It sucks faith out of me. Reasoning goes next. Aversion shows up, and I am convinced that no one—not even my best girlfriend or my sweet, patient man—wants to take a desperate call from me right now. No one wants to put up with such a wretched person as I am right now.

Embarrassment is next, as I begin berating myself on how I should be able to pull myself back up out of this morass. And if I do somehow make it back up and out of this, how am I going to face everyone who noticed me sinking so deep and far away, who saw how worthless I was/am?

I am worthless, talent-less, lacking in reason and therefore have no place to go but further down, deeper into the abyss. It is the only place where I feel welcome, where I know no one will be forced to endure me, and so I let it pull me further in.

Is it a habit—like an addiction? Am I addicted to depression somehow—maybe on a chemical level that I am not consciously aware of? Because it is seductive, in a way. It is quiet, at least. It is a form of Now.

At least I don’t have to talk to anyone here. I don’t have to listen to anyone tell me how wonderful my life is and how I shouldn’t feel this way, how I shouldn’t succumb to the darkness, how I should be strong and resist it, how foolish it is to go so deeply away, to be so… absent.

That is what it feels like. It feels like I am not in the real world; I am absent. I am separated from the world by a thick, heavy fog that I can only barely see through to observe other humans.

It always feels like I’ve sunk too deep down into the rabbit hole to return.

the elephant journal version:  The Difference Between Feeling Sorry for Yourself and Depression

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Why I Might be a Bully.

crow pie

I am eating humble (crow) pie today.

“Crow is presumably foul-tasting in the same way that being proven wrong might be emotionally hard to swallow. The exact origin of the idiom is unknown, but it probably began with an American story published around 1850 about a slow-witted New York farmer.”

A few months ago, I manifested someone into my life who has offered me the gift to look at my reaction to—and association with—aggression, anger and verbal violence.

Enter the adult bully.

That this person offers me anger, aggression and verbal/emotional violence tells me that it must be time for me to take a look at the same in myself.

Granted, this person was (and is) pointing the aggression at me, and they have also been inviting me into their drama to play some passive aggressive, personalized head games starring yours truly—games that I have recognized and refused to play (at least, so far, and thank God).

And I’m not happy—or proud—to admit that it has taken me several months to understand that even in this case, the anger and aggression really have nothing to do with me.

For many months I saw the behavior as personal and specific to me—and saw myself as some kind of poor victim to that aggression. It’s easy to assume the other person is just being aggressive, devious and mean, to assume it’s personal and that I am the victim.

It’s handier, easier and makes me look wonderfully non-violent, innocent and spiritual, doesn’t it?

Superior martyr much?

Two weeks ago, before I started this specific mental quest, I would have told you that I was not a violent person. I cannot say that now, after only a few days of self-examination.

I took a look/meditation and assumed my fearful reaction to anger originated from being repeatedly exposed, as a child, to a particularly nasty variety of instant, unpredictable, rage.

But unfortunately that’s not the whole story.

I also found a co-dependent part of me that not only accepted the anger and saw it as normal, but would take on the anger as deserved—encouraged it and even welcomed it—to keep the aggressive person from feeling too guilty about being a bully.

Ew. Sick. Enable much?

When I closely examined my reaction, I found that I am sometimes, even as an adult, afraid of anger—often more like terrified. I run or freeze—if not physically, then mentally. I get afraid. I disassociate. I can’t think, be myself or talk intelligently.

I even panic, without trying to show it outwardly, of course, because I have learned how inappropriate it is, as an adult, to run from a confrontation.

By association, I also freeze up around anyone who is loud, bossy and putting off confrontational, aggressive energy. Someone who I perceive might, without warning, suddenly turn into a bully (product of that “instant, unpredictable” thing).

Even if it’s not pointed at me, I get nervous and jumpy just being in the general vicinity of said person or behavior.

And please, how does one handle an adult bully?

I got online and searched for posts about it. Most of the articles dealt with adult bullying in the workplace, which wasn’t very helpful, as this person is not in my workplace.

Anger as Protection for Vulnerability

A couple of weeks ago, as I hunkered into the task of unearthing and healing this issue for myself, using the tool of writing, I speculated:

“They (the aggressive ones) might do that as defense, a habit, so therefore they must feel threatened in some way. Do they have a need to always be stronger and more threatening than everyone else, and to “prove” that right up front by always being louder and more aggressive than the people they address?

I’m pretty sure they aren’t aware that they come across that way. Or maybe they want to come across that way to scare off would-be attackers?”

All of this made me wonder if I give off aggressive vibes without being consciously aware of it—if I have something in me that feels so unsafe that it must automatically and instantly “put up its dukes.”

After finding the origins of that personal button and then speculating that aggressive behavior might be the product of what started as protection, but might now be habit, I reluctantly asked the Universe/God to (gently!) tell me how I might be showing up in violence—how I might be a bully.

Because sometimes, after the panic and to cover up any vulnerability, I meet anger with anger—warranted or not—because it seems somehow safer.

The Universe didn’t take long in coming up with examples of my own aggression.

Within just a couple of days, and with someone I dearly love, I realized (after the anger and argument) that I had been in an emotional shame spiral but was not conscious of that and had tried to make them feel guilty instead of owning and working through the shame.

To my disappointment, the anger and blaming came easily, informing me about the habitual, unconscious, knee-jerk nature of it.

The vulnerability that would have been required to admit to feeling shame was too scary. It also meant that I would have had to admit that I am flawed/unable to handle life/weak/wrong/scared/imperfect—insert your favorite inner critic’s usual harangue word here.

The next instance was another form of using anger to protect my vulnerability—only this time it was passive—and theretofore subconscious.

While being (good-naturedly) teased about something, I began teasing that person in return. But it felt horrible, like an argument, almost—like a contest of some sort, a competition.

When I paused to dig at the feelings coming up, I realized I was feeling embarrassment and shame again. I was surprised and shocked to find I had knee-jerked into “teasing” them about something I unconsciously hoped would shame them so much that they would stop teasing me.

Wow. So much for non-violence, huh?

To say I am embarrassed by my own thoughts and behavior is a drastic understatement.

So, after all the embarrassment and shame at having not allowed the embarrassment and shame in the first place—and how I handled it so dysfunctionally—I am beginning to move forward again.

My usual remedy: First, I give myself time to get over the shame. Next, I briefly explain and apologize.

If I’ve thrown this awful brand of angry, blaming defense at you at any time for any reason, I apologize. Please forgive me.

Third? That’s the hardest part: I have to continue to monitor myself and change this defensive, negative, violent, angry habit and behavior by allowing myself to be human, flawed and vulnerable—to admit this to you, myself, the World—while I am so fearful in that moment when it’s happening, instead of angering-up.

Meanwhile, Back to My Private Bully.

And how do I now handle a bully—or even just a loud, aggressive person—that person who may not even be consciously aware, like me, that they are projectile-vomiting aggression on everyone around them?

I stand, the half-eaten slice of humble crow pie in hand, ready to offer understanding, even as I am also ready to stop offering myself up to be their enabler and victim.

“Don’t shrink; don’t puff up. Just stand your holy ground.” ~ Brene Brown

Because perhaps they too have a part in them that feels so very unsafe that the first, instinctive, habitual, most important thing to always do is throw all the defenses they’ve got at it—at everything and everyone around them.

“The proper pairing of wine and food can heighten one’s appreciation, but in the case of eating crow, wine selection becomes even more critical.” ~Wine for Eating Crow

And I am ready now, please and thank you Universe, to step out of this specific karmic production.

A version published at elephant journal.

Photo courtesy of Artisan Vineyards.