I can’t tell you how much I need to sit down and write today. As you’ll be aware if you’ve read my recent posts I have been down in the depths lately. I’ve sunk deeper than I have done for a long while. Some of it is meds related (it’s a long story), but most of it is what has happened lately and the understandable impact it’s had.
Sometimes usually I feel I’m making no progress whatsoever in my mental health treatment and psychological interventions….but when I do notice any remotely positive changes, it’s ESSENTIAL I acknowledge them and enjoy them. So that is what this post is about.
What I have learned, and what has taken me a long time to believe, is that I am actually allowed and entitled to be happy; falls over in shock
…..that happiness isn’t a sin, and experiencing any relief when my suffering lessens isn’t some guilty secret to feel ashamed or dirty about.
Dirty is a unusual word to use in that context isn’t it….but dirty is totally what springs to mind. My childhood life lessons were: if you fail you’ll get punished, if you do well you’ll get punished, if you feel balanced and content you’ll get punished, if you get scared you’ll get punished and if you feel fearless and confident you’ll get punished…..in other words, whatever happens and regardless of how you feel or approach life, bad shit will happen.
I carry so much guilt and my soul is overflowing with toxic shame. I’m bad. I’m not OK. I’m unworthy. I’m not as good as you or you. I’m me, and me is not cool.
“YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF SUMMER”
That was the phrase I heard most as I grew up.
Should I?? Really……should I?
Lately I’ve felt depressed, very depressed….suicidally preoccupied depressed actually. I’ve had two crisis periods (so far), engaged in some self harm, and have had to rely a great deal on the genuine care from my close circle of friends, my other half, my blogging friends, and even my kids, to keep me safe and surviving. I’ve (characteristically) beaten myself up for feeling as depressed as this. (..’this’, meaning suicidally poorly).
There is a difference between a primary and secondary emotion. The primary emotion is the real deal- that’s what we experience when something from the outside triggers huge reactions on the inside, we feel strong emotion (energy in motion), but then the pesky secondary (interpretive, commentating, judging) emotions start to come in….
”I’m a fucking idiot, why oh why is this affecting me? Other people wouldn’t be bothered, so why am I? Why can’t I just move forward? I’m weak, I’m pathetic, I hate myself, I hate my life, the only way I can do anything to sort this problem out is to get rid of myself (suicide), because I’m the problem, and the reason I’m the problem is I’m prone to depressive reactions to any damn tiny life trigger that comes along.’
All of this harmful self-flagellating rumination just makes me feel crap and ill and useless and overwhelmed- drowing in my tank of isolated turmoil.
My therapist alerted me last week to my thinking patterns making me feel worse, and that made me feel worse, because I knew she was right.
I have the personal insight and self-awareness to KNOW that thinking like that and doing all the self-judging is only going to have one outcome; soul destroying and destructive melancholic depression.
But can I flip the switch on my thinking and suddenly not do all the judging of my feelings? The answer is “CAN I FUCK!”. (Worded politely, no, I can’t) not instantly…..it takes t i m e for me to process and get my head around myself being (one of my) own worst enemies.
In my experience as a patient in MH services, having your secondary emotions pointed out, and all the faulty unhelpful thinking behind them, makes you feel FAR worse before you feel better. I felt that on top of everything else that is absolutely and wholeheartedly wrong with me, I think like a depressive who has failed their CBT exam, I’m such a loser!
I do critiquing commentary on my critiquing commentary!
I berate myself for berating myself.
I despise myself for thinking in all the CBT textbook incorrect ways. I’m a bloody psychologist!!! Why can I not change what is so obvious?!
I have thoughts intrude in my head to the likes of…. ‘if my cognitive patterns are always leading me to depression, then I might as well kill myself to save me the bother of having all this crappy NHS CBT bollocks rammed ineffectively down my throat all the time with no psychological improvement, only leading me to feel depressed in anticipation of my next EPIC FAILURE.’
I recognise, in hindsight, that this is bloody ridiculous (!) but that is genuinely how I was thinking a week ago! Genuinely!
STOP> This depressive thinking pattern must stop N.O.W. [says wise voice in head].
Today I forgive myself. I forgive myself for sinking into a pattern of consistent low mood. I forgive myself for having this kind of defeated and despondent reaction when my main/most dominant & influential childhood abuser decides to break the police advised ‘no contact’ request, and write me a letter; a letter full of self-justificatory bullshit and lies and invalidation, showing NO remorse, giving NO acknowledgement that the abuse happened, that it has ruined my life; attempting to emotionally manipulate me and arm twist me into meeting up with him purely so he can tell me he’s “sorry I’m mental but it’s nothing to do with me- it’s all false memory syndrome”.
I forgive myself for feeling shit about that. I absolutely do!
I forgive myself for feeling angry, and that anger (which cannot be expressed), seemingly converting into depression.
I forgive myself for having negative thoughts.
I forgive myself for being a psychology graduate who demonstrates less than optimal cognitive patterns that would cause expired CBT therapists to turn in their ‘balanced-thinking-what-is-the-evidence-for-that-thought-you-just-had’ graves!
I forgive myself for my spirit feeling a bit crushed right now.
I forgive myself for not firing on all cylinders.
I forgive myself for needing extra support.
I forgive myself for not being okay.
I commend myself for admitting that depression is where I’m currently at but this is NOT my forever destination. I know it’s temporary. I know it’ll lift. I don’t know when, but it WILL lift. Over time this upset will hurt less. The anger will simmer at a lower temperature. The head shaking unfairness of this and everything about him will slowly diminish, and my mind will be distracted by and filled with other things; better things. The pictures in my head will be less graphic and less real-looking and less horrible and less raw. My chest will ache less. My head will spin less. My body will collapse and sink into itself less. My ears will be comforted by the still and safe silence around me. I will enjoy the lifestyle I’ve deliberately cultivated to be stress-free (as far as is possible).
His words were burned away to nothing.
My brain hasn’t forgotten the taste of his poison but I’m not going to indulge him one bit by drinking any of it.
That poison was tasted, but spat out on the first read of his letter. Not a bit of that poison was swallowed.
It IS natural that I feel depressed about this triggering contact.
It IS ok that I dealt with it bravely at the beginning but his words have burned me more and more emotionally as time has gone on and I’ve reflected what exactly that letter means about our previous father-daughter relationship.
It IS ok that I had a couple of crises and that I’ve drawn more heavily on my support network lately. They really care for me and they are all genuine and sincere, and that means SO MUCH to me.
It’s all ok, and I’m ok. And the unhelful secondary emotions are going to have to JOG ON. I’ll stick to the primaries, and quit judging myself for having a natural understandable and fully justified emotional reaction to something shitty and upsetting. (Textbook self-validation there. My DBT therapist would be SO proud!)
It’s all ok girl!
Believe me, YOU HAVE GOT THIS :)
climbs on magical rainbow unicorn and waves a cheery goodbye to depression