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Letting Go of What Others Think of You

Posted Oct 08 2010 12:41pm
When I was told by my doctor that he believed I should be on disability due to my mental health it kind of flabbergasted me.  I never in my entire life thought that I, at the age of 34 would be on disability.  However, at the time I was so severely depressed that I couldn't imagine working either, so what other options were there?  I went through the process of applying for disability (or SSI - Supplemental  Security Income) and was actually surprised by how soon I was approved for it.  I found out after only roughly five months.  I was already prepared for it to take at least a year (I was told that my sister-in-law's father - a Vietnam Vet) had waited at least that long (he is suffering from PTSD).  And if HE had to wait that long - and he's a veteran - then I certainly would have to wait that long too, if not longer.

When I received my first payment I felt so guilty and so embarrassed.  What right did I have to receive a check without doing any work to get it?  After all, I was raised with a strong work ethic and had been working consistently since the age of thirteen.  Now here I am at the age of 34 and on disability because my brain is messed up!   Logically I know I shouldn't feel guilty about it - heck I know there are other people on SSI for mental health issues and I don't judge them for it (nor would I if I was working).  So why am I being so hard on myself?

The main thing is that depression is something that only the person who suffers from it can feel - and it can be pretty intense at times.  It can cripple you to the point of not being able to leave your own house (like me!)  Yep - I don't get out like I used to because I get claustrophobic, and as a result I have panic attacks if I'm out too long.  I prefer to stay in my house, but I also feel like my home is keeping me captive from living my life.

I felt guilt because a lot of people still don't get the severity of depression and how bad it can get and how it can paralyze you from living life.  I felt like people (especially my family and certain friends) looked at me like "Give me a break!  You seem fine to me!  Get off your butt and do what the rest of us have to do to earn a living!"  Granted, they may not have thought that, but I don't doubt there were some that did.  My problem was that I let what others thought get in the way of me getting better.  It took time (and I admit there are still times I feel the guilt), but I have, for the most part, gotten over what other people think.  That's always been an issue for me - worrying too much what other people think- when really - who cares!? It's something that I have to keep reminding myself of - WHO CARES!?!

Therapy (via the RIGHT therapist) has helped me to move forward and work on these feelings of guilt.  I was told that I did have a job... that "My job right now is to recover".  And I was to keep repeating that to myself over and over again.  When you think of it, I'm not going to be doing anybody any good (working right now) in the state that I'm in, so why not focus on one thing at a time - re: getting healthy!?

I can't tell you how much relief it brings to STOP CARING what others think about you.  They don't know what you're dealing with on a daily basis - they don't understand how even the easiest things (that we all take for granted) like taking a shower or getting dressed can be the most difficult thing to do for someone who's depressed. (And that just doing those two things are enough to wipe a depressed person out for the rest of the day!)  But to those of us who are depressed we need to give ourselves credit for doing these things because WE know they are not easy.  We know that taking a moment to call someone on the phone is a huge step - but we should be proud of that step nonetheless... and if that's all you do in one day - don't be ashamed - be proud! 

There are so many things in life that people take for granted... I know I'm guilty of it it, but I'm working on being more aware of my surroundings and taking steps towards finding inner peace every single day.  So don't give up hope - there is ALWAYS hope.  But most importantly - stop worrying about what others think of you - because it's only going to prevent you from moving forward in your journey towards you finding your inner peace.

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