Why I Don't Blame Myself for Depression
Jessica (not her real name) is a 24-year-old advertising executive who lives in New York City. She has depression and bulimia, but comes from a family with a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality. She finally sought help, and got it. After starting treatment, she has come to terms with feelings of guilt and self-blame about her depression. She knows she has a treatable condition, and that depression is not her fault.
Getty ImagesDepression is very isolating. You just dont talk about it in the same way you would if you broke a foot and were going to the hospital. It was strange to me to talk about depression both in individual and group therapy.
However, I have been in treatment for depression and anxiety for close to a year and a half. I finally decided to get treatment because I have bulimia—I dont think I would have sought help for the depression alone. But I know that eating disorders have elements of anxiety and depression and now I realize I was depressed for much longer than I realized.
During my college years, I would get depressed when I came home for the summer. However, I didnt think a psychologist would be able to help with the fact that I didnt want to leave the house on the weekends. I wasnt having suicidal thoughts, so I didnt think I really needed help for depression.
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I figured I lacked self-confidence or was just shy; I thought my mood was due to my personality or my view of the world. In other words, it was something I should control and was my responsibility. If I could just find a way to change my outlook or feel better on my own, it would be enough.
It was a relief to stop feeling guilty
My familys mentality is that if you have a problem, you should be able to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. I felt like I couldnt reach out to other people or get help. Plus, I had watched my mother go through treatment for depression and anxiety. I knew how negative my relatives were toward her about it, and I didnt want to be treated like that.
But I finally went to see a psychologist. She didnt push a diagnosis, so I felt I was able to come to my own conclusions rather than be automatically boxed into a specific mental-health identity. There was no initial talk of medication.
However, a few weeks ago I had a consultation with a psychiatrist to discuss medication. I was crying for no good reason and I thought maybe medication could help me feel better. There was a moment in my head where I realized its okay to reach for that lifeline. I realized Im not alone in this, and that help is okay.
Coming to that point was a relief because Im used to feeling guilty for asking for help. To be able to let go of that kind of pride is a relief. Accepting my condition as something beyond my control, believing that I am not responsible or to blame—its all very freeing.
Being in treatment is hard work, but I had to figure out what I could do to feel better. I have to do whats right for where I am in my life right now. Im on my own path to mental health and happiness.