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Daisy Duke

Depression/treatment Is Like Peeling An Onion

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I have come to the conclusion that depression, and trying to heal it, is like peeling an onion. You peel off, and get rid of, one layer only to find a fresh one underneath.

I've been in therapy for many years now and work really hard to help myself. My therapist and I have worked on so many things and resolved them to the point where they don't hurt me anymore. The thing is that then, in time, another trigger comes along and bam theres a new layer of the onion to peel.

Every time you come to a new layer it doesn't get any easier. Sometimes it's quite a shock that there are things you are living with that are oppressing you and you didn't even realise it.

I have things I have/need to deal with at the moment that make me who I am, you know - behaviours and what I would call 'my nature'. My therapist believes that these behaviours, that I feel make up my nature, are problematic and intergral to my mental health problems.

I find it very scary to think about changing my nature as I am very kind and compassionate. I need to be more selfish which to me is very negative. Having said that I do appreciate why, and I do agree, but it's just that changing ones core beliefs and core behaviours/mannerisms is a very daunting challenge. It scares the crap out of me to be honest but I know it's what I need to do.

Tiny steps, tiny steps

Thanks DF for being here to allow me to share my feelings with others that get what I am talking about and can appreciate how I feel inside.

Daisy Duke

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Hi Daisy Duke,

Your post reminds me of being in Alcoholics Anonymous (where I landed due to heavily self-medicating because of severe anxiety). I have been sober three years now and attend AA meetings regularly and a lot of what you said are things I have learned through AA. When you get there, you literally have to change EVERYTHING about yourself, that is, re-learn how to live life like a normal person. As you do this, layers are revealed to you; layers you really don't want to face but MUST in order to get better. As you become more aware of who you really are, it is easier to take on these layers and fix them. Also, about being selfish-it really is hard but you have to be in order to get better...focus on YOU. Like for me, I had to be selfish when getting sober and taking care of only myself. Now, I have to be selfish and focus on my depression that won't go away; this causes many problems because a lot of people do not understand my mental conditions. Thus, I do appear selfish as there are a lot of things I just cannot do due to chronic depression. I break plans all the time and seem like a flake because I oftentimes just need to focus on ME and getting better. Sometimes the only things I can do are go to my doctor appointments. I can't let anything come before my sobriety OR trying to get my depression in check. If that is me being selfish, I believe that is a good way to be selfish because I am trying to better myself.

Changing your nature is NOT easy but it will become easier with time. If your "nature" is holding you back from being the real you, it is important to modify your behaviors to healthier ones. Think of it as a "one day at a time" thing. You don't have to change everything today. Tiny steps, as you said. As more of the real you is revealed, I promise you will like it! Those things you do not like? Guess what? You get to change them-slowly. Everything is a gradual process.

I hope I have helped in some small way. Please keep us updated.

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hi daisy

i can only agree. i have been battling depression for over 10 years and don't know how much longer i can, at the moment. i need to be more selfish too, which i find negative, and kinder to myself.

as you say, tiny steps.

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Daisy,

I'm going to offer my own perspective and experience with being kind/compassionate in hope that you can see the changes in a different manner and not as changing your core beliefs or behaviors.

I'm in my 50s and have been a kind and compassionate person all my life---been a caretaker of others since childhood---I won't clutter this up with a list of all the things I've done that served others, sometimes more to my detriment than was wise.

I learned a few things from my 2 selfish husbands as well as watching the mean girls/women get all kinds of people to take care of them/provide for them while I always had to take care of myself. I've come out the other side with basically nothing and still having to take care of myself while they keep coming out smelling like roses.

So, this is what I learned: Being selfish like them is not a good thing for anyone. HOWEVER, being selfish, as in taking care of yourself first and being kind and compassionate to yourself first is a positive selfishness that I wish had another more positive word to describe it.

When being kind and compassionate to others interfers with taking care of yourself then it is a problem. We shrink in ourselves if we don't practice that kindness and compassion with ourselves first and end up with less to give. I'm still working on applying this lesson in my life---2nd marriage is just ending and though I've always been loving and caring, but that isn't the way he sees it and it's going to be another nasty divorce and I'll come out lucky to keep a roof over my head since I'm permanently physically disabled.

So, I suggest that you, like me, don't need to change your nature---just how you apply it. We need to practice that kindness and compassion with ourselves first and learn to say "no" when something will take too much away from our ability to take good care of ourselves first and foremost. Sometimes people will respond positively when we make the effort to take care of our needs first and sometimes they won't. (Could be the same people for both.)

I've made the mistake many times to drop what's I need to be doing in my life in order to be there for others---especially mates. I've done without many things because others needed or wanted something---including my own health care when money was tight, of course it's always been tight for me. It's really hard to do when the behavior has been ingrained in oneself for so many years.

Tiny steps is about the only way to go. I try to practice random acts of kindness on myself, at least one little one a day. I also have learned to treat myself to little things sometimes that I wouldn't before because "I shouldn't because I can't afford it." It's easier now because there's no other adult demanding/spending only on themselves instead of us, but I still have to balance it between taking care of myself and my daughter. Sometimes I'm just not able to do/give what she wants as it is more than I'm able to at the time.

Kindness and compassion needs to begin with self, not like the severe selfishness we see from others sometimes, but the healthy self-caring that we deserve just because we breathe. On airplanes they tell you in the lecture that if oxygen masks come down you need to use your own before taking care of anyone else---how can you take care of anyone else if you aren't breathing, right? That's what I remind myself whenever I find myself slipping. So I guess I wouldn't call it "selfish" as that has a negative connotation---I would call it compassionate self-care.

Thanks for reminding me, as this is a lesson that I struggle with still, but I'm getting better with it.

Best wishes.

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Yes, the core beliefs I had to change were and are the ones which make me cow-tow to people and laugh at bad jokes and help them even when I don't want to. If it helps, it actually makes sense to get what you want sometimes, rather than always pandering to other people and it actually helps them too to be more independent aswell. I guess the key is to help those that need it, not those that want you to

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Dear all,

Thank you all so much for your replies. They have all really helped me and I'm so grateful. To hear different perspectives on what I was thinking is eye-opening - well mind-opening really.

Thanks again

Daisy Duke

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