Monday, April 19, 2010

Depression Symptoms: Worthlessness

A profound sense of worthlessness

About a year ago I pasted these two pictures of myself into my journal.

The black-on-white image shows how I have experienced my self for most of my life. The boundary between me and everyone else was permanent and easy for me to see. A task like listing 10 words to describe myself seemed simple. Among people who believe or see things differently than I did, I might have remained quiet but identified points of disagreement and felt easy about living with them.

This chalk-on-sky-blue expresses how I have experienced myself for much of the past year. I am not vivid against the background. I blend in, find it difficult to distinguish the difference between myself and the people around me. A finger rubbed against this image blurs it, and friction made me feel like I was disappearing.

I love my husband and children so much and, as our small world came to seem dangerous, I devoted myself entirely to protecting them from pain. I couldn't do much but I wore myself out trying. I felt isolated with my kids and tried to fulfill every caretaking responsibility as creatively and energetically as ever. Eventually I felt lost, inadequate, and resentful. I felt myself disappearing inside of all that they needed.

Children are miserable sources of identity. They hardly know that I am separate from them so they do little to reinforce my boundaries. My response to the conflict at church, my husband's depression, and my own escalating fear and anxiety was withdrawal. It was a destructive cycle. I was losing a clear sense of my self and withdrew from almost every relationship or activity that reinforced my identity.

Much of the past year has been devoted to establishing relationships and routines that help me see myself. Now I have several friends in town who know me well and with whom I feel completely at ease.

Writing this blog has been incredibly helpful. It is a perfect combination of describing my experience for my own benefit and getting feedback from readers that helps me see myself and my experience through someone else's eyes. Thank you all for caring for me that way.

To read all the posts in the depression symptoms series, go here

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Thanks for using this space to share your encouraging words.