The world is going to give you all sorts of reasons why it’s “your fault” that you’re depressed.
People will tell you your depression is the result of choices you’ve made. Thoughts you choose to think. Beliefs you choose to have. Behaviors you do or don’t do.
Depression is not your fault.
Just reading that, you might have a reaction. You might be tempted to list all the reasons why depression IS the fault of someone who is depressed.
That’s how entrenched and reflexive our victim blaming mindset is around depression.
No one asks for depression. No one likes being depressed.
There are lots of factors that impact our vulnerability to depression. There are LOTS of things we don’t fully understand about depression.
But one thing we know about depression is that blaming a depressed person for how they feel and function is never helpful.
When I say “depression is not your fault,” I am NOT saying that we are powerless over depression.
There ARE things we can do to lessen our vulnerability to depression, and to feel and function better when we are depressed.
But that DOESN’T mean depression is your “fault.”
Some people seem to have a fantasy that if they “prove” that depression is the “fault” of the depressed person, then we don’t have to think any more comprehensively about what depression is, and why it happens to humans.
There are people reading this who didn’t have much of a chance to NOT be depressed, considering what they grew up with.
There are people reading this who are very genetically or biologically vulnerable to depression.
There are people reading this whose depression stems from abuse or neglect.
The fantasy that someone is always at “fault” for their depression is inaccurate and counterproductive.
The fantasy that we can “fix” depression by making a few simple shifts in our perspective or our attitude is corrosive.
How we feel and function depends on a LOT of things. What YOU need to feel and function better is unique to YOU.
Instead of blaming ourselves for being depressed and insisting that we “get over it,” we need to get really curious and really compassionate about our depression.
There ARE usually things we can do to feel and function better…but we DON’T discover those things by harshly judging and dismissing what we’re experiencing.
The skills we need to cope with and reduce our depression are developed over time.
We need to work WITH our nervous system— not just insist that it play ball and do what we want it to.
The work of coping with and reducing our depression is made harder and more complex by a culture that insists upon laying blame on the person who is struggling.
Depression is not caused by a “bad attitude.” It’s not caused by a lack of “character.” And depression is not fixed by “sucking it up.”
I’m incredibly sorry if you’ve gotten the message, either from the world or from mental health professionals, that depression is something you’re “choosing.”
It’s so, so much more complex than that.
Please don’t get discouraged.
Please don’t give up.
Please don’t buy in to the myth that depression is your “fault.”
People DO cope with and reduce their depression.
But that journey dos NOT start with self-blame and shame.