Monday, February 18th, Day 167, Self-Worth and Depression

Monday, February 18th, Day 167, Self-Worth and Depression

 

Afternoon

 
If you would like to join me in this journey from the beginning, please start with Day One.
 

Abraham Lincoln

 
Today is the President’s Holiday.
 
I am reminded that one of our greatest presidents ever, perhaps the greatest, Abraham Lincoln had manic-depression.  It did not keep him changing history or freeing the blacks.  It may have even helped.
 
I am struggling with my own manic-depression.  I believe it or the treatment I have had for it has damaged my self-image.  Since January 24th,  I have been working diligently  to polish my self-image and preserve my sense of self-worth.
 

Full Responsibility for My Life

 
I have turned to conversations with the Lord to guide me.  I mentioned Saturday that I felt unaccepted by my mother and how that may have contributed to my depression.  Now I know I cannot blame her for anything.  I must accept full responsibility for my own life.
 
So how can I shoulder the responsibility I must take for my life?  I realize I must have support.  My husband offered his support.  So has the Lord.  I also think of my mentor, whom I wrote for years.  He encouraged me to do so many things.  I may find support in writing him some more, even though he said it was unnecessary.
 

Desire to Widen My Audience

 
What I desire is to widen my audience.  Whether I am really ready to do that right now is open to debate.  I explored that yesterday, and the more I thought about it, the more tense I became.  However, my desire to share was strong too because my blog is a potential contribution to society.  If now is not the time, when will it be? What more do I need to do to get ready?  Is it something I am going to procrastinate forever?  As a comment on my last speech at Toastmasters said, “It’s time to take the show on the road, honey!”
 

Catching Up

 
First, I desire to get some control back in my life.  I have not kept my Cronometer log today.  I kept it for six full weeks, missing only one day.
 
Next, let me look at JV Life Tracker.  I missed Saturday and Sunday, but I was able to catch them up using info I kept on the computer.  Now I am current on that.
 
Now let me do my meditation.  I also listened to a spiritually-oriented song recording I did before I came to Colorado.  I even gave a copy of it to my husband, who was then my boyfriend.  Listening to my own voice reminded me that it is not all that bad.
 

Depression

 
Why do we get hard on ourselves?  I thought it had to do with the way I was raised, but there may be other causes of being overly strict with ourselves.  Life itself is pretty demanding.  If we do not pay our bills on time, there are fees to pay, for instance.  When we do not study, we may not pass the test.  If we eat a carton of ice cream, we are going to gain weight.  My parents were raised on dairy farms.  If they did not milk the cows, there were consequences.  If they did not remove the weeds, the garden did not produce and looked terrible.
 
The Meaning of Poor Performance
Perhaps we get hard on ourselves to protect ourselves from the consequences life would deal us if we do not perform.  Failure to perform does not mean we ourselves are worthless. However, we can give it that meaning, and many of us do.  I believe this is the beginning of depression.  When we drag around, feeling we are worthless, our performance goes down all the more.  It becomes a downward spiral.  It can even become pathological.  I am describing the essence of depression, something with which I am all too familiar.
 
Using JV Life Tracker as a Tool to Prevent and Get Out of Depression
I work endlessly at keeping myself out of depression, but it seems like I am always on the edge.  My JV Life Tracker app can help keep me out of depression by keeping me active, but if my scores take a dive or if I stop scoring, it can backfire.  However, getting it going again can get me back out of depression and has countless times.  So I have a tool that can help.
 
JV Life Tracker works at keeping us productive, which is one way out of the depression hole.  However, it will not always work, especially if we get sick or try and fail at new things that are beyond our current abilities.  To fix that, we must examine the meaning we give lack of performance.  If we give it the meaning that we are worthless, depression can result.
 
Alternative Meanings For Poor Performance
What are some other possible meanings we can give lack of performance?
 
1.
When I recover from this cold or flu, I will perform well again.
2.
I just need more practice, and my performance will improve.
3.
I cannot perform as well as I did when I was younger, but I can teach it.
4.
I am retired.  I can take it easier.
5.
I bit off a bit more than I could chew.  I will regroup and take things one at a time.
6.
With a little more time on the job, I am sure my performance will exceed my employer’s expectations
7.
I missed that deadline this time, but I will put it on my calendar and get it done early next time.
8.
I will study more for the next test.  My calendar was too full this time, but I can do better next time.
9.
I can simplify my life.  I have too many things going on.
10.
I gave this more importance than it deserves.
11.
The performance criteria on that test was unrealistic.  I know I did well, even though I got a B instead of an A.
12.
It is not necessary to perform like a pro when first playing the game.
13.
I am getting help for this project.
14.
I will say “no” next time.
15.
I will say “yes,” but if I cannot do it successfully, my self-worth is not in danger.  I can try again.
16.
Better late than not to arrive at all.
17.
This time was practice.  Next time is for real.
18.
If at first you do not succeed, try, try again.
19.
That was not my responsibility.  [Use that cautiously.  It might actually be your responsibility.]
20.
My children helped me with that.  They are just learning.  It does not have to be perfect.
21.
This craft project is great for learning.  I do not have to sell the results.  I do not even have to finish this.
22.
I do not have time to finish all the projects I undertake, so I will focus on those that are the most important.
23.
Dinner was a little brown, but it was still edible.
24.
I binged on ice cream this time, but my body can recover.  I know what to do.
25.
I have value, even if my performance is zero because my self-worth is infinite.  It does not depend on my performance.
26.
I have value just being a child of God and being created in His image.
27.
Events are happening for me rather than to me.  Things will work out for my good.
28.
My performance is not “all or nothing”.  I can get partial credit.
29.
I have value just in being human.
 
Each of these sayings should not become excuses for the habit of poor performance, but sometimes we get into a performance situation where we need an out.  These are all better than telling ourselves we are worthless.  Some people are better at psychologically protecting their self-worth than others.  Throughout my life, I could have done better with it.  For a long time, if I did not get an A, it was the end of the world.
 
Breaking Perfectionism
My husband has done his best to break my perfectionism.  He is constantly telling me things do not have to be done right now.  He does not agonize over poor performance himself.  I do not aspire to be just like him, but I am learning to take things at a slower pace and to not stress if I can not get things perfect.
 
Giving a Situation the Meaning You Are Worthless Sets You Up For Depression
Now it is clear to me that giving a situation the meaning ‘I am worthless’ is setting myself up for depression.  Depression is always accompanied by a loss of self-worth.  Where does the loss of the self-worth come from?  It must come from me, as it is not inherent in a situation.  It comes from the meaning I give it.
 
The Meaning of a Loss
I tossed a day’s worth of blogging this afternoon.  I felt the loss keenly and gave the situation the meaning that my blog was worthless.  Since I had given it so much of my time, that meant I was worthless too.  That started a downward spiral, and by supper time, I could hardly force myself to prepare a meal.   Fortunately, I caught myself in what I was doing, and turned it into a new blog entry.
 
What Is Your Secret to Staying Happy
What is your secret to staying happy?  When you get depressed, and maybe you never do, do you have tools to help you get back out?  Have you discovered the secret of preventing depression altogether?
 
Pharmaceuticals and Their Alternatives
The pharmaceutical industry has produced a lot of antidepressants.  I have tried many of them.  For most people, they do not really work.  If yours are working, I do not want to force you off.  However, you may be taking antidepressants and still getting depressed.  You may think it is just you.  I believe depression is only partially a chemical imbalance.  There are many behavioral, nutritional, psychological, social, and spiritual factors too.  My free but valuable ebook, Joyful Vibrance:  Transform Your Body Image, Energy, and Mood! addresses the biochemistry and other factors of depression in more detail.  I hope you will take a look at it.
 

Joy

 
I think of joy as an emotion.  It is often tied to religious feeling.  We sing, Joy to the World, and that touches me as do many other songs of worship. My greatest joys have involved my relationship with the Lord.  There are other joys as well, such as listening to music, inhaling the scents of essential oils, spending time with friends or family members, eating a well-prepared meal, watching the sunset, admiring our work, or even reading a good book.  Joys are simple usually, and we can deny ourselves joys if we are always in a rush to get things done.  We have to take time for joy.
 
Depression Results In the Lack of Ability to Experience Pleasure
When our body gets in depression mode, it loses its ability to experience pleasure.  All of these wonderful activities described above will do little to arose joy in a depressed person.
 
Clinical Depression Can Render You Unable to Serve
So, what is the secret to feeling joy again after a bout of depression? Well-meaning people have told me that the secret of getting out of depression is to do a service for somebody else.  For the mild blues, that probably works great.  However, clinical depression is different.  You are so down you would actually be a burden to someone you were trying to serve.  You are so down you have nothing to give.  When all you can talk about is how much you want to commit suicide, you are in no position to give joy to others.
 
Getting Just a Glimmer of Hope
So how do you turn that around?  One thing you need is a glimmer of hope that you will eventually feel better.  It may not be really strong, but nourish that hope.  Reading Blessed in the Darkness by Joel Osteen helped me during a prolonged depression about a year ago.  I did not start feeling better right away.  However, I developed a tiny ray of hope that things would eventually get better and there would be some meaning for what I had gone through.  I also had hope that God would bless me double for all my trouble.
 
The Blessings Are Real
I believe God has blessed me as Joel Osteen said He would.  If I had not gone through that depression, I do not believe I would have married my husband.  However, the experience of depression and recovery softened me.  My husband and I have had a rewarding experience in marriage.  We have grown together, more all the time.
 
Since then I have been able to do service and experience all the more joy.  I have a reservoir of joy to offer.
 

Once We Have Convinced Ourselves We Are Worthless and Become Depressed, What Is The Way Back?

 
Let me revisit the insidious trick our mind can play on us when it tells us we are worthless for any reason, but usually because of some kind of poor performance: missing a deadline, not getting a project finished,  not taking care of the body, missing a daily exercise routine, having to toss stuff out, or not doing countless other things we either should or think we should do.  We do not always catch ourselves the moment we assign ourselves the value of ‘worthless’.  However, we can detect that it has happened.  We feel depressed.  What is the way back?
 
We could try doing all those things we judge ourselves for not doing.  However, if we are depressed, that is a tall order.  We can start slowly and use a tool like JV Life Tracker, increasing the number of points day by day.  That is not a bad way to go.  However, along the way, a rebuild of the self-worth is necessary.  We have to celebrate partial victories.  While in recovery, we are not likely to be perfect at anything.  I may get very liberal about giving myself points in JV Life Tracker.  Sometimes if I give an activity some thought for the day, I give myself a point for it.
 

Tuesday Morning

 
Last night I discussed these topics with my husband.  He was concerned about what had gone wrong with me yesterday and wanted understanding.  After I explained what was going on, he said over and over, “You are not worthless.”
 

How Do We Preserve Our Sense of Self-Worth?

How do we preserve our sense of worth?  Some people gauge their sense of self-worth by their financial net worth.  We can lose that though when investments lose money or a medical disaster occurs, requiring a big expenditure.  Tacking our self-worth to our jobs or career may be perilous too because we can lose our jobs or have to give up our careers.  That happened to me.  At that time, I rebuilt my sense of self-worth through my relationship with the Lord.  Even that can be perilous, if your religious connections are undermined.  That happened to me also, and I had to rebuild my understanding of God.
 
Investing in our health is great, but we can end up being surprised by a medical condition.  If we stake our self-worth on our health or physical abilities, we can be disappointed.   Investing in our marriages is a great idea.  However, if our self-worth is tied to our marriage, we can lose that due to events beyond our control.
 

From What Can We Safely Derive Our Sense of Self-Worth?

From what can we safely derive our sense of self-worth?  One thing we have from birth to death is our humanity.  Even if we lose a number of our body parts, we are still human.  We can place a value on ourselves for being human.  As we learn to love others and ourselves, we see the infinite value of being human.
 
If we have studied the accomplishments of great artists, breeders, composers, explorers, inventors, parents, philanthropists, producers, scientists, writers, etc., we see the value of what humans have achieved.  We may not be able to do anything quite as noteworthy right now ourselves, but we can take ownership of these accomplishments as we are kin to a legacy of talent that is part of our heritage and worth.  Even better, as we contribute to this vast pool of human talent, those accomplishments can often be preserved.  Appreciating our human heritage and contributing to it can safely preserve our sense of self-worth.
 

Retaining the Ability to Love

Our marriages may crumble, but we can retain the ability to love, and hopefully we do.  I know it is possible to leave a marriage bitter, unforgiving, and hateful, but this will do nothing for our self-worth.  The ability to love can carry on into a new relationship or a labor of love.  It can carry into projects, blogs, and service.  Love can provide the next generation with the ability to contribute generously to humanity.
 
So, is there a vaccine for depression?  A pill?  A cure?  I am feeling much better today after experiencing some depression yesterday.  Thankfully it did not spiral into a depressive episode.  Thinking even beyond my ebook Joyful Vibrance:  Transform Your Body Image, Energy, and Mood!, I have posed and answered some questions yesterday and today.  Later, I may have even more insight, which I will post on this blog, so stay tuned.  Let me know if this has been helpful.
 
 

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