Depression’s Little Voice and the Fight of a Lifetime

There are days my self-confidence is so low you have to frack for it.

Why is a bit hazy – I’m sure there are several reasons, probably related to impossibly high personal standards, poor life choices, circumstances and, I donno, the weather.  While it could be any number of things, it’s compounded by major depressive disorder and what I like to think of as depression’s little voice.

Most people who suffer from depressive disorders are aware of this little voice.  It’s the one that says: “You’re worthless.  You can’t do anything right.  You don’t deserve to live.”  The exact words vary from person to person, day to day, but the theme is always the same.  “You suck.  You aren’t worth anything.”

As you might have noticed, the little voice is not particularly subtle.  It’s not particularly creative.  But it is very, very persistent.  “You’re worthless.  You’re terrible.  Why do you even bother?”  Over and over and over again.

The worst part of this is: it’s not even your voice.  It is the voice of something that lives inside your head and this kinda created by you in the same way, say…asthma is created by you.  It’s this thing that happens to you that you didn’t create and don’t really want, but things you do can trigger it.  Or something someone else does can trigger it.  It’s like a parasite with a on/off switch.

And it affects you on a deep level.  Hearing that little voice saying those terrible things repeatedly beats you down, even when you release it’s not your voice.  Knowing it’s the depression talking isn’t even half the battle, it’s just the realization that you’re not hitting yourself but are, in fact, in a multi-round bout with a champion prize fighter to keeps handing you your ass over and over again.

So, and this is really, really, REALLY important for people have loved ones with depression:  we tend to take failure hard.  It’s a double-whammy for us.  First we have the failure itself, then there’s that stupid little voice going, “Of course you failed.  You are a failure.”  It’s a right hook followed by an uppercut that leaves us laying on our back in the mud, feeling terrible and wondering if we should bother getting up.  Ego: low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, lack of motivation.

I might be generalizing here, but I’m feeling pretty confident about this generalization.  It’s really hard to get back up into the fight when you’re hurting and just want to quit.  Sometimes you just lay there for awhile.  Sometimes that “awhile” is weeks or month or even years.

But, my god, it’s worth getting back up.  It doesn’t matter how long you’re down, there’s no ref counting before he declares a KO.  It’s never too late to push yourself up and get back into the fight.  And it is possible to hand that prize fighter his ass from time to time and that’s an amazing feeling.  Okay, well, until he gets up and that voice starts again: “That wasn’t enough.  That was a fluke.  It won’t happen again.”

And that’s a lie.  You know it’s a lie.  It doesn’t always help, but you do know.  Because you did it once and you’ll do it again.  So push yourself up, spit blood, wipe your mouth with the back of your hand and remember:  the crowd loves an underdog.

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