“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” – Peggy O’Mara
I have always had an issue with identity and coming to terms with who I am. I guess it has always been a cause of never feeling adequate, feeling different, not good enough, and not feeling like I belong anywhere or that anyone really likes me. Those feelings are incredible powerful. They take over your whole being, your perspective and sometimes break down any kind of positive change that you have made towards progress and healing. They become engrained in your head, body, as well being and the ability to function “normally” becomes a far cry, a wistful wish. The familiar lies are so pervasive, demanding, and incriminating that they become a part of you, convincing you to believe that that is all there is, and the cycle and fall down the rabbit hole continues.
I love the quote that is posted at the top as it describes so much in terms of one of the cause of the effects of depression, notably in terms of growing up with an abusive parent. There were very few times in my childhood when I felt really loved by my narcissistic father. And by very few, I mean I am probably able to count those numbers of times on one hand. The dialogue that I created as a result of growing up with a narcissistic father is one of that I am unworthy, unlovable, and do not belong. I realize that in any challenge that I am put through, that dialogue rears its ugly head for me. And coupled with my ability to take immediate blame for anything and everything, this engrained speech confirms all of my worst beliefs which is I am the cause and problem of it all.
It is much harder to go through life living with depression. Everyone out there has issues and problems but being depressed takes up so much time and energy and really stunts vital and important growth, efforts, and progress in life. If I really sit down and examine things from an outside perspective and count my blessings day to day, most of those negatives assumptions are not true. But, the depressed side of me is so overpowering that I end up blaming myself for issues that I cannot control, and sometimes make them worse as a result of that. It ends up with a lot of self-sabotage of situations
What can you do if you feel the same? Dissociate those feelings of this is really me, my authentic self. I like to call attention to that depressed version of me that I am becoming. If it is a teachable moment, one where I can learn about what some of my triggers are, I explore that. Otherwise, I always make some time for myself and self-care. All the little things matter: eat well, get enough sleep, spend time with those people that elevate you, and take time for any kind of healing that you like to do. The last is especially important for me when I get into a depressive state- I try to take all the time and resources that I can in order to quiet that negating voice. I find things to do that I know to make me happy, as silly as they may be (I am currently writing this piece while eating a Saturday brunch at one of favorite restaurants in the town that I used live in, and I will follow it up with a 8 mile hike); I spend that time by myself in order to recoup my mindset and my resources.
It took me awhile, and is still a learning process, when I apply it to various parts of my life: to disassociate those feelings, images, sensations, thoughts that I have when I am going through a depressive cycle. I know that it is no one’s fault and the blame will get me nowhere, but I also know that I have my triggers. One of my triggers is being any situation or interaction that makes me feel not good enough (a quintessential characteristic of one of the effects a narcissist can have one you). This trigger can reveal itself more prominently in some parts of my life than others, especially in areas of my life where I have struggled more than others, or areas that require more intimacy and authenticity than others.
At the end of the day, I know I am more than my depression. She is a part of me, and might always be. Although, I know her time comes and goes. And I know the symptoms of when she arrives: low self-esteem, irritability, and fatigue. This may be different for everyone since depression has ability to reveal itself in various different ways and forms. Please be gentle with yourself in figuring out what those different forms may be, it is different for everyone yet the darkness comes and goes the same. It may be the curse we all live with, but the curse is one that is not unmanageable and it is usually not our fault. Years of judgment and projection can do that to someone, especially in the case of being raised by narcissist.
The important thing to remember is to know who the real you is, to distinguish that from what is someone else’s voice that was trying to get rid of pain and suffering onto you. You are more than the repetitive and incorrect dialogue in your head. Those times may come and hang a cloud over your head, and sometimes it is more than you can control. Life is more than being in control but it is all about awareness and recognition. Capture those moments that make you feel good and connected, that is the real you and your higher calling. And, as pervasive as that outer noise can be, no one can take the real and beautiful you away from you.
Written by: Anna (Creator of Echo’s Corner)