Depression and the game of “pretend”

Written by Amie on April 1, 2013 – 3:04 am -

 playing the “fine” game

Pretend as though everything is “fine”? No thanks.  Just hearing the word “fine”still triggers a bit of anger in me. How many times did I answer the question, “How are you?” with “FINE”, when in fact, I was far from feeling fine! I quit. I quit the game. The game of pretend is over for me. I refuse to do it. I choose healthy behavior, and pretending is not a part of healthy behavior. I will only choose to answer “fine” if I am just not in the mood to give someone my energy. I spent years playing the “fine” game, and it is a really unhealthy game. I understand why we do it. We do it to avoid having to feel the truth of any given situation. We do it to avoid being vulnerable. Most of us have been trained well at the game of pretend. A few years ago I changed the rules. Many people around me were not too happy. That’s okay. If they choose to continue playing, that is their choice. For me, the game of pretend equals suffering. I no longer choose to suffer. I chose the path of looking at my life and feeling the pain that was blocking my authenticity. I chose the path of truth.  In order to be authentic, we have to feel. We have to be real with the emotions that come up in our lives. I didn’t know how to do that until a few years ago. I’m still learning.

 suppressing all of my innate needs and emotions

I know for certain that my depression was the accumulation of years of pretending. I pretended I was feeling fine, I pretended as though I didn’t have needs, I pretended as though nothing bothered me, I pretended I was happy, I pretended like I was fulfilled…..I could go on and on. Pretending is another way of saying I was suppressing all of my innate needs and emotions. We all desire (need)to be with like minded people who love and support us. This is being human. We all desire(need) to be seen and heard. We all desire (need) to feel safe to express who we are. We all have needs, this is what we do as humans. It is healthy. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have needs. When we pretend, we stuff all of our needs and then try to talk ourselves into believing we don’t need anything, and that we are “fine”. And then when one of these needs speaks really loud, we tell ourselves we are being too needy, too sensitive, too…fill in the blank. We have been conditioned to feel shame and guilt for having needs! We have learned to feel bad about having real human needs. We have been conditioned to think we should be perfect….which means we shouldn’t have needs. If we don’t have needs, then we don’t have emotions, right? How can you have emotions if you don’t need anything? How can I be disappointed or sad when someone who says they care about me is disrespectful? If I don’t have the need for respect and safety, then I shouldn’t feel anything when these things don’t happen.  But the truth is, we all have needs! Just because we have been taught to ignore our needs, doesn’t mean we don’t have them. It just means we are pretending, so that we appear “normal”. (whatever that is! There is no such thing, in my opinion)

guilt and shame galore

We have been conditioned to judge ourselves for needing, and then judging and shaming ourselves for having emotions over the fact that we aren’t getting our needs met. If we continue this pattern, self-hate sets in. We think we “shouldn’t” feel a certain way, and when we do feel that way, we hate ourselves for having those feelings. It is a vicious cycle. Guilt and shame galore! Guilt and shame are learned “emotions” (it can be argued whether or not they are even true emotions). Guilt and shame are used to control others and to condition people. Guilt and shame are used to get a person to feel bad enough about themselves that they will comply with what someone wants them to do. Think about a situation with a child. If the child is doing something “undesirable” in the eyes of an adult, so often the adult will use tactics that actually teach the child to start feeling bad about themselves. For example, the adult may say, “but I will be so sad if you don’t stop doing that”, or “that is bad, you are bad for doing that”, or “why would you even think of doing that?” All of these examples begin the process of conditioning a child to feel guilt and shame. They learn to feel responsible for others’ well being. The adult is conditioning them to believe they should act accordingly so that the adult is comfortable. Therefore, the child starts thinking they are bad for expressing their own truth. If a person lives many years this way, they are in the habit of hiding their own truth in order to please those around them. They hide their true self, their true needs, their true desires, because they want to avoid feeling “bad”, and they want to avoid upsetting others. This is how we begin feeling ashamed and feeling as though our needs make no difference. Others’ feelings are more important than ours.

it is easier to isolate than to reach out

It is not surprising to me at all that depression is rampant. The majority of people go through their days pretending as though they are fine, feeling afraid to reach out to others for fear of being shamed, or labeled as weak. This is so sad. I understand how it is easier to isolate than to reach out. I did it for years. I pretended as though things were great, when inside myself I was feeling so lost and so sad. I reached out and started getting help, I read every book I could get my hands on, I began learning how to love myself and nurture myself, and I began seeking others who were on the same path. I sought out others who also wanted to stop pretending. I need authentic people in my life, and I am not going to pretend that I don’t. Once I opened my heart to this fact, some really wonderful people started to show up for me. Although it is sad to let go of those who would rather I pretend, I knew in my heart that I had to let them go with love. I have compassion for their struggles, but I can no longer stay in their stories with them. I have to take care of myself. I will allow people in my life who are authentic and respectful of the real me. They love and support me for who I am. They encourage me and lift me up. They show up for me in ways that I never thought possible. I also know and understand that I am responsible for my feelings, and others are responsible for theirs. Knowing this gives me the confidence to express who I really am. For this, I am grateful.

 

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Overflowing with love-showing my authenticity!!!!!

Written by Amie on October 30, 2011 – 1:11 am -

 I had been dimming my shiny self

I ended up going to the Suicide Prevention walk last weekend. The morning of the walk was really difficult. Once we started walking, I was much better. I’m still not sure if I am glad I participated, but I am happy that I spent time with my whole family. I was meditating the day after we returned home and it hit me! I had one of those “a-ha” moments that resonated deep inside me. Throughout my journey of healing from depression, I have come to realize that I have been conditioned to “dim my light”. By this, I mean I hide part of my authentic self. I have done so much healing around this, and I am much much better at being who I really am. This weekend it became so clear to me just how much I have been dimming my shiny self. I am in a place right now where I am able to really take a step back to observe my interactions with others. I think this is why it was so obvious to me how I have learned to “turn down” my overflow of love.

 I *knew* on an intellectual level that I must have been doing this most of my life

I truly felt so much love for each member of my family, and for every person I came into contact with during the weekend. I caught myself falling into my conditioned habit of turning down my joy and happiness in order to match that of the other person. It became so clear to me how I learned to dim my inner light so as not to make anyone uncomfortable. I learned to shut off the happy joyful side of myself because those around me might not be feeling so happy. This was such a huge realization for me. I *knew* on an intellectual level that I must have been doing this most of my life, but I had never *seen* it with such clarity. I can see how this all goes hand in hand with depression. I have written so much on here about depression hanging around until a person decides to be honest with themselves and others, and to be authentic and show their truth. I was still sort of shocked, but in a really relieved kind of way, to see this in action, so to speak. For example, someone would come up to me to talk, and I would gauge their mood, and then act accordingly. If I felt as though I was feeling happier than they did, I would tone down my own happiness. Wow, I can’t believe I was doing this for so many years! No wonder I was so depressed!

How could it ever be a bad thing to show how happy I am?

It is clear to me now that I learned to feel guilty if I felt happy and joyful. Just typing those words feels so sad and makes me angry as well! How could it ever be a bad thing to show how happy I am? It all comes back to receiving the message that in order to be loved, I need to change who I am. If I want to feel accepted, I need to change in order to be acceptable in the eyes of others. Well, let me just say, this is no longer a reality in my life. I feel so happy and full of joy right now. The contrast is unbelievable! How low I felt a few years ago compared to now. I never thought I would feel this good! I know there will be more “layers” of processing that will show up, so I am enjoying this! There will always be emotions and experiences to process, but I do believe the worst of it is behind me now.

When someone is depressed, my first suggestion is to become aware of the thoughts and beliefs going through their mind

Since I have become more aware that I do this, I am able to talk to myself and remind myself that it is ok to be exactly who I am. It is the other person’s problem if they are uncomfortable with my joy! Being joyful and happy is my birthright and your birthright! We do not ever have to change in order to fit someone else’s reality. Again, it is not my problem if someone is uncomfortable with how good I feel! It is so important to become aware of the habits and the beliefs and the thoughts we have. When someone is depressed, my first suggestion is to become aware of the thoughts and beliefs going through their mind. Then question the validity of these. Acknowledge your truth, and then begin taking baby steps to act upon your truth. We all have a right to be happy and to express our truth!!!

 

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