Revisiting Depression: Part Two (the People)

Hallo, darlings. We’re back at it today with this depression topic re-visitation. On last week’s exciting episode, we covered the relationship between depression, anxiety, and anger and how they work together in a positive feedback loop to amplify depression. Afterword, not even Dave’s corner cowering could keep us from diving into the somatic symptoms of depression and how pain and depression work together in a… well, a positive feedback loop that can amplify depression. I’m sensing a pattern here. Anyway, on this week’s emotionally unsettling conclusion, we’re finally going to address the social implications of depression and its role in self-worth. *Spoiler alert* We’re looking at another feedback loop.

The reason I wanted to look at anger and pain in relation to depression is to highlight some of the moving pieces working against the depressed. Anger and pain are both negative experiences that one needs to develop proper coping mechanisms for in order to respond appropriately. Let’s look at two different reactions to a scenario:

Scenario: Dave walks into his living room while texting a friend. Attention divided, he stubs his toe (clumsy bastard).

Reaction one (RO): In the 15 seconds after stubbing his toe:

  • Dave experiences a burst of pain
  • On the heels of that burst of pain, Dave experiences anger
  • Dave’s anger increases as he realizes his toe stubbing was a result of him not paying attention
  • Because Dave has no one to blame, he feels a bit stupid and embarrassed (regardless of the fact no one is around)
  • Dave doesn’t like to feel stupid or be embarrassed—it makes him angry
  • In the midst of the pain and anger, Dave comes to the conclusion that it’s the phone’s fault he wasn’t paying attention
  • Dave throws his phone
  • Dave begins to feel embarrassment about his behavior (still no one around)
  • Dave experiences a decrease in his sense of self-worth

Reaction two (RT): In the 15 seconds after stubbing his toe:

  • Dave experiences a burst of pain
  • On the heels of that burst of pain, Dave experiences anger
  • Having stubbed his toe many times before, Dave realizes the pain will subside quickly, so he should just breathe and ride it out
  • Dave sits on his couch and continues texting his friend, experiencing no significant changes in mood or sense of self-worth

 

Obviously, RT is the ideal reaction—the reasonable reaction. If you read RO and thought, “Well, that’s pretty childish,” you’re right! Spot on! Bravo, you! Individuals unable to learn and incorporate proper coping skills when it comes to negative emotions tend to react childishly to things. I think it’s important to point out here that it’s perfectly normal for anyone to have the occasional outburst. Shit happens, you might overreact, but you regroup and move on and that’s that. For someone with depression, it’s not as easy. There’s too much of a cascade effect. One stubbed toe could lead to a multiple-week-long depressive episode. Thankfully, this is an issue that can be eased with behavioral therapy and/or counseling.

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When you get real mad, but you’re still cute as hell.

Seeking Value from Without

Before we get down to it, I just want to say that you, whoever you are reading this… You have value.

Our sense of self-worth is based on several things but can (for ease and brevity) be narrowed down to two categories: The value we place on ourselves (inside value) and the value we see others place on us (outside value). Ideally, there would be a balance between the two. For someone with depression, though, more stock is put into outside value. This is why some individuals with depression seek out the company of friends and family during darker times, which can be immensely helpful if the individual is in happy, healthy relationships. On the other hand, self-worth based on outside value can be crippling without those solid, uplifting relationships.

Some individuals relying on outside value, but who lack healthy relationships, tend to exhibit attention-seeking behavior. This is by no means a negative thing—although it can be. Attention seeking behavior can include: positive emotional outbursts, negative emotional outbursts, withdrawing from social situations, acting helpless, being overly helpful, being the center of conversations, and if I list any more we’re going to fall into a larger mental health topic. So, I’ll stop there. Again, these are all pretty normal behaviors when done sparingly, but it becomes problematic when someone exhibits multiple attention-seeking behaviors on a consistent basis. What’s worse is that these attention-seeking behaviors can lead to socially awkward situations, which leads to embarrassment, and… Hey! We’re back to anger! And after anger comes guilt, depression, and a lowered sense of self-worth. And, of course, how you cope (both inwardly and outwardly) with these negative emotions and situations can further devalue your sense of self-worth.

drain-2454608_1280

Do you ever watch water drain and think, “Huh… there’s my self-worth.”

On a Bigger Scope

**Please keep in mind that the following is a very generalized breakdown of some social implications of depression and a low sense of self-worth. While the below statements may apply to some (and in varying degrees), they won’t to others. To get more specific, we’d need to look at the different types of depression and how they affect different personality types and what’s chemical vs behavioral and on and on. You get the idea.

Building and maintaining relationships is integral to being a reasonably well-adjusted adult. How you relate to and with others helps dictate the type and quality of people who want to be around you. It also plays a major role in your career. The problem is that your sense of self-worth tends to be evident to others, whether overtly or on a more subconscious level. It’s a bit harder to like and want to be around a person who doesn’t particularly like his/herself. Because it takes more energy to be in any kind of relationship with that type of person, they’ll have fewer relationships and, likely, more contentious ones. Additionally, people with a lower sense of self-worth are more vulnerable to manipulative personalities and have a higher likelihood of ending up in long-term abusive relationships. A person relying on outside value has to be real fuckin’ careful about the company they keep, but they also have to balance how much they rely on others.

One of the biggest relationships in most people’s lives is their job. We spend a lot of time and energy there, and it’s one of the most logical places to find outside value, whether it’s from work friends, acquaintances, bosses, clients, customers, vendors, whomever. Again, it’s totally normal to desire or seek out praise and/or notice at work. But it becomes a problem when you rely too heavily on your place of work for outside value because it becomes exhausting for others. Furthermore, exhibiting attention seeking behaviors could hurt your credibility as a professional and disrupt those around you. This need for notice, the need for outside value, could end up lowering the outside value you receive, and then? Well, then you have a lowered sense of self-worth.

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#FeedbackLoopBitches

It’s a Lot

Over the course of this series, we’ve barely scratched the surface of depression in all its un-glory. If you know someone with depression or are just looking to understand more, I hope this helps. For those of you dealing with depression, reach out for help when you need to. Discover ways to increase inside value. Work with a behavioral health specialist. And, please, if you or anyone you know is or may be contemplating harm to themselves or others, get help immediately.

 


 

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