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The Misunderstood Symptom of Depression We Often Miss

Depression is a complex illness that manifests differently in every individual. There is a multitude of symptoms — everything from physical issues like aches to thoughts of hopelessness. For me, I had all the classic symptoms of depression. But something we often miss is shame. Depression stirred up this deep sense of shame in me that fueled many other issues like self-harm, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Shame is one of those words we often misunderstand. We think of it as the same as guilt or embarrassment. I believe the difference is why depression is paired so well with shame. Guilt is based on regret for our actions. We might lie to our friend and feel bad about it. Shame, on the other hand, is rooted in our identity. Guilt says, “I made a mistake.” Shame says, “I am a mistake.”

Depression often distorts our sense of self and how we see the world. It would turn something as simple as an awkward conversation I had and downward spiral into thoughts like, “I can’t do anything right,” “I’m worthless” or “I’ll never be loved by people.” Sometimes, there wouldn’t have to be a tangible reason. I would wake up in the morning with intense self-hatred that prevented me from getting up. This was shame making its appearance.

These thoughts were all lies and far from the truth. I often knew this, but shame was deeply ingrained in me. A huge step in healing was to understand the difference between guilt and shame. Instead of comparing myself to others or wallowing in self-loathing, I needed to tackle the underlying thoughts causing me so much pain. I have begun the process of trying to stop and recognize the shame-filled thoughts and combat them with truth about how valuable I am. It’s been a difficult process and I have also greatly benefited from other treatment like medication and therapy. All these steps toward recovery aren’t easy, but you’re worth it. You matter and can begin to get better too.

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

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