Lesson #1: It is NOT your fault

So many posting here with such palpable emotional pain. I can relate to this from painful personal experience over many decades. I've gained some understanding and insight over my lifelong battle with depression, and I'm going to share some of it here in the hopes that it may bring some of you some useful, helpful perspective.

These are lessons I've learned that have helped me through. I'm not a trained counselor or psychologist. Just lessons from my own journey.

And lesson #1 for me is: "It is NOT your fault".

Depression is biological. The brain, the nervous system, the endocrine system -- these are part of the body. The body has many mechanisms to maintain itself: its temperature, it's heart rate, it's energy level, it's sense of well-being. And as you well know, the body needs a sense of well-being to do all the other things necessary to "be alive". It's just as much core to survival as all the other systems your body has.

Depression is a breakdown in the mechanisms that maintain your sense of well-being. If you are depressed, these natural mechanisms are broken. But here's the thing: YOU DID NOT BREAK THEM. Something else happened to cause them to break down. It is no more your fault or a part of your identity -- a part of who you are in your spirit and soul -- than would be having diabetes or cancer. It is NOT your fault.

This "breakdown in our natural mechanisms for maintaining a sense of well-being" can occur for numerous reasons. The details are different for all of us. There are as many different reasons as there are people who struggle with depression. But there are similarities -- for some it is some brutal shock to your life, for others it is childhood trauma or neglect, for some there is a genetic component, for some it is all of the above. But regardless of why, it is not your fault. It is separate from you, it is not you... it is not "you" any more than having a cold or a tumor is "you". It is horrible, it is challenging, it demands much of you --much more than anyone around you can understand. But you, in your true core, are still a worthy, magical human being.

For me it was childhood trauma and neglect. So that from my very earliest memories I felt "bad", "unworthy", "unlovable", "paralyzed"... in other words depressed. And I thought it was just my fault -- loathsome me -- until I heard a radio show driving in my car in my late twenties where they were talking about how they now understood the vital importance of the first 2 years of life in forming our basic sense of the world. That's when we form our sense of well-being -- and the mechanisms that sustain it. Then it hit me -- like this brilliant light going off. "OF COURSE!" -- my first two years of life were an utter disaster. No wonder I'm broken. That was my pivot point at which I separated myself -- my worth -- from this horrible feeling inside. That was the beginning of my climb out.

I'm fortunate that I was able to identify something specific. But it doesn't matter, the lesson is true for all if us: IT IS NOT YOU! That doesn't change the fact that it hurts like hell, and we have to scratch and claw our ways out of the hole. But it is a starting point, at least it was for me.

Please let me know if this is helpful for you in any way. If so, I'll write more of my lessons. And if anyone wants to chat personally, just get in touch. I'm happy to share my story and support others on this difficult journey.


gwyon gwyon
2 Responses Aug 18, 2014

I like your thoughts about depression not being you. It is indeed a freaking hell hole. Been living in it for 6 years now. Think I'm finally ready to do something about it and reconnect with the world. Please share more of your lessons.

I can relate exactly the same with your story. Very well written. Thank you for being brave enough to share. <3 I can so relate the the climb out..I've been working my way outta this hole my entire life. I am thankful for my loving husband who sees me and loves me just as I am.