One of the great lies of mental illness is that, “If things weren’t so stressful, I wouldn’t feel so bad.” Look inside ourselves now and see them. All the numbered and ranked stressors we tick off to explain how we feel and/or behave. How about someone we love. Do we tell them, “Of course you feel that way! Look at all you’re going through!”
Because major depressive disorder (MDD) is mainstream enough, I’ll use it as an example. Who, when they are down, doesn’t look for reasons why? Say there is an additive effect of stressors such as home conflicts, financial duress, and poor sleep. Since these events, you haven’t felt pleasure, you’ve felt sad and depressed. You aren’t motivated or interested in your usual. And where you normally would seek people out when you felt down, to get more energy, now you just want to be alone. And so on. You are able to say that you started feeling this way progressively since triggered with those stressors about 3 months-ago. Before that you were “fine.”
Many people in your life, have told you that you are just going through a bad spell. You have believed them but say, “Even if this is a bad spell, if it goes on much longer I think I’d rather die.” Your best friend responds, “Anyone would be depressed if their boss was that evil!”
My answer, “No.” Feeling down is appropriate to stress when it doesn’t disrupt your life for more than two weeks at this level. And it is never normal to want to die. Everyone has stress but not everyone responds to stress in the same way. Not everyone if put under your same triggers would develop MDD.
Would you have developed this disease if you weren’t put under these stressors? I can’t say. We develop illnesses for many reasons. One of the many reasons is external stress. A hypothesis supporting this is that stressors trigger our genes for MDD much like we know cancer genes can be turned on by stress. However, we do not have a direct correlation to the stressors as being entirely causal events.
Even if it were, none-the-less, we are left with the disease process in progress. It is not an adjustment reaction to stress. It is medical illness.
Feeling this way is not normal for what you are going through. Telling yourself that it is, that is the great lie.
Self-Care Tip #118 – Don’t believe the lie if what you’re going through is affecting your function in life. Be a friend to yourself.
Question: What whispering lies are you struggling against? Please tell me your story.
- For Many, Stigma of Mental Illness Lingers (nlm.nih.gov)