Or worse for me, why do I feel like such a burden?
And is my depression really feeding into those feelings? I recently read an article about this feeling of being a burden. Here are a few paragraphs:
Many people that go through an episode of depression feel like a burden to others. Often individuals who live with depression struggle with feelings of guilt. It seems to be linked intrinsically with depression and how someone with this illness perceives themselves.
They may express how they feel worthless and a burden to the people that are caring for them. Often as carers, we find ourselves saying, “There is nothing to feel guilty for.” “You can’t help feeling ill.” The individual may be aware of this, but they are unable to move past the negative thoughts they are experiencing. Being ‘stuck’ in negative thinking is a major part of depression.
Guilt is synonymous with mental ill health. People that are depressed may often feel they are undeserving of love and happiness. They may feel that they are taking away people’s time and energy needlessly.Why Do People with Depression Feel Like a Burden | Bell Foundation®
I feel guilty for feeling guilty.
It has been months or maybe years since I have felt true happiness. You know, I cannot help smiling kind of happy. Or the “happy dance” happy. There have been a few moments where I was close to happy. Getting my Tanzanian Travel visa recently almost pushed me too happy. I felt the corners of my mouth raise slightly. My heart rate was slightly elevated, and I began to feel that my trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro was actually going to happen.
And of course, it will happen, but right now I am less than excited.
Even though the countdown from 200 days is now at 30, I am not feeling the excitement I anticipated. Perhaps I am not understanding what excitement means these days. I have an app on my phone that is counting down the days until we fly out. And I share that at work and sometimes with strangers.
There must be some level of excitement and happiness associated with that activity.
After all, this trip has been on my bucket list for over 15 years. And I will be sharing the experience of summitting with my daughter, my oldest son, and a family friend. That is so cool. So why am I feeling like I am just going through the motions? What is keeping me from shouting to the rooftops? After all, we will be summiting Kilimanjaro, 19,431 feet above sea level.
I hope I can leave my guilt at sea level and not carry it up the mountain.
I am telling myself, “there is nothing to feel guilty for.” And as aware of that as I am, I still am unable to move past that. It is frustrating to “know better” and still not be able to move past the guilt. As I ruminate on my guilt, I cannot help feeling that I should be doing more. Then it’s “if only I could …” and I am right back where I started.
It is true for me that “being ‘stuck’ in negative thinking is a major part of depression.”
My depression is a master at setting up thought patterns that create guilt and shame feelings. I know, because my depression has been doing that to me for years. And each time, I think, I should know better than to listen to my depression. But there I sit, spellbound as it relates all of the outcomes I will avoid if I just feel like a burden. Thinking that keeps me from being a burden. How can you be a burden to someone if you avoid them all together?
The circle of life is complete, and I am right back where I was before I started writing.
I should be wiser than before, but that is not how depression works, it can use the same unhelpful thinking, time after time, and I keep thinking the same thoughts. Amazingly, I still expect a different outcome. Deciding to go to the hospital and get professional medical advice stands out as the one time in the past 3 years, that I knew the outcome would be different only if I did something different.
Additionally, I thought differently and advocated for myself.
I was determined to get proper professional help, even though many of the professionals that were there to help were trying to talk me out of going to the hospital. In my bones, I knew that in-patient treatment, even for just a few days, was what I needed to jump-start my way back from the abyss. Even circling the drain would be better than the depths I sunk to.
And for those few hours, I fought like mad, not caring in the least about being a burden.
It was me getting help or me doing the same thing while expecting a different outcome, or me ending it all. Being a chicken, there was no way I was going to end it. There is too much I want to do, including flying to Tanzania and doing an 8-day climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro. And now my grandson is getting bigger and just called me Grandpa for the first time.
Living is work, at least for me it is.
And doing the work to not just survive, but to thrive, takes a lot of energy. I often find myself in concealed depression mode. I can put on the show and bury my personal issues deep, deep inside. In this state, I do not feel like a burden, In fact, I can be inspiring to others and make good decisions. But when the day is over, it is often hard to keep up appearances.
I am still finding excuses to go to bed early.
In bed, I can be whatever self I am at that moment. I am not a burden to anyone. I can recharge my batteries, as spending the day concealing my depression takes a huge amount of energy. Alone, I can relax. And being alone, once again I am not a burden to others.