Posted in My Planet

Why depression was the best thing that happened to me

In 2010 I was diagnosed with clinical depression and I thought my life was over. I lost track of time, stopped enjoying all the things I used to enjoy, lost interest in everything and the smallest event would cause me terrible anxiety. After months of struggle, I ended up losing my job, which eventually resulted in the loss of my house, making me and my three children homeless for eleven months during which we lived in a high-security hostel. So, why do I think that this was the best thing that has happened to me?

I lived all my life being scared, feeling wrong and inadequate, most of my actions were driven by either fear or seek for approval. I made so many mistakes, from trusting the wrong people to getting into debt and everything else in between that only added to my low self-esteem and lack of self-worth. I will leave the details of those for another post. What I want to focus on today is the benefits of therapy – it is fair to say that I owe my life to CBT. Through hours of therapy, I learned to make peace with my past and consequently, I started being kinder to myself. My most valuable lessons were:

  • It’s ok not to be ok.
  • I deserve to be loved for just being me.
  • I can love my parents and still hate some of the things they did to me.
  • I am a good mother.
  • I didn’t deserve the horrible things that were done to me.
  • I am not a failure.
  • Self-love is not selfishness.
  • I’m only responsible for my actions.
  • Grieving is a process.
  • Guilt is bad and serves no purpose.
  • I am not responsible for other people’s happiness.
  • I cannot change the past.
  • The past cannot hurt me.
  • The future doesn’t matter.
  • The power is in the now.

As a result of all these lessons, I became more self-confident and my self-esteem improved massively. I became aware of my self-worth and I am not afraid of asking for what I believe I deserve. When I think about my past mistakes and bad choices, I accept responsibility without judgment; I am now more accepting of myself and of others. Before the depression, I used to get terrible anxiety about how other people felt and wanted to fix everything. I used to live under a hard mask, but now I am just me. And although I am not always over the moon, that is ok. I know when I am not ok and when a low mood is approaching and how to act unless I haven’t the energy, which is also quite alright.

Posted in My Planet

The Root of my Depression

This week I shared a poem I wrote about ‘Guilt’ and its relation to my depression and so I decided to explore the theme a bit further. Since an early age, I grew up with a strong sense of guilt. I am the first child of my parents, in any fight with my younger siblings, my parents always said that as the eldest, I had to be the most reasonable. And whenever my father upset me and I went to my mum for sympathy, she would always tell me to try and understand his point of view because he had a terrible childhood and a hard life. In every situation  I was put on, the responsibility was mine; not only for my own actions but also for others – those younger than me as well as those older than me.

The worst thing I that I grew up oblivious of this exaggerated feeling of guilt, and the truth is that I always felt responsible for anything bad that would happen to me and to those around me. And this feeling contributed to the strong sense of worthlessness and the low self-esteem I experienced most of my life. I didn’t like me because I failed in everything and let everyone down, but at one thing I excelled brilliantly – at faking it. I was the best at pretending to be self-confident and happy with myself. Looking back, I don’t even know how I did it. I lived that lie for almost forty years of my life and only when I was in therapy for depression did I learn that when my parents induced that sense of guilt in me as a little girl, they were abusing me. I never look at myself as a victim of parental abuse, because I didn’t know any different, but I was. They abused my innocence when they should have taught me self-love and unconditional love. A few years ago I would have thought this statement to be a bit tragic and exaggerated but now I know better, only because I have hit rock bottom, being in so much emotional pain that I believed my life was over. Yes, there were moments when my depression was so dark, that I believed I would never be able to go back to employment and to be independent ever again – and to be honest, I couldn’t care less.

But thank God for Private Medical Insurance, CBT, group therapy and the few brave individuals who have shared their experiences with me and made me gradually believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am also hugely lucky to have a group of friends and family who have supported me and been so patient with me helping me to be hopeful and keep going. I have forgiven my parents because despite not liking the way they made me feel I love them and I know they didn’t mean any bad, they simply did what they knew best. They also did good things to me and loved me the best they could.

I will revisit this issue again, I’m sure of that as there are so much more to guilt in the story of myself, there is also the guilt of not being well and being a burden to others, but that is a whole new post. I remember during therapy being very surprised with the role guilt played in my mental health – who would have thought? If you would like to find out more, follow the links below: