A great deal of depression begins with a negative self-image. If you don't feel good about yourself, how can you feel good about your life? I personally suffered from depression for years because I felt I wasn't a good person, if something bad happened, I believed I deserved it. When something good happened, I was afraid to enjoy it, because I felt I didn't deserve it. Yet I couldn't say why I felt so bad about myself. It took therapy and hypnotherapy with a very skilled psychiatrist to help me remember a tragic incident that took place early in my childhood--an incident I no longer consciously remembered. I learned that when persons are traumatized, even if they have no conscious memory of the trauma--either because of childhood amnesia or repression--the feelings don't go away! Because children interpret events differently than adults do, I'd concluded that I was responsible for the tragedy. That undeserved guilt colored my self-image for years. I needed to recover that memory and interpret it through adult eyes in order to change my self image.
If you're interested in how I recovered my memories, my book Exit the Labyrinth will be offered for free for one day only, October 2nd, from Amazon.
Self image is what you see when you look in the mirror. It's important to realize that what you think you see is not necessarily true. An anorexic, skeletal woman sees a fat woman in the mirror. A teen-age boy may see only his acne, not a young man with a friendly nature or academic or athletic successes, and he'll conclude that he's not good-looking enough for any girl to be interested in him.
The truth is that many people feel inadequate because they compare themselves to others, and they don't know what the others have given up in order to have what they have. Who are you comparing yourself to? How many movie stars, professional athletes, or successful entrepreneurs have left a trail of unhappy relationships, divorces, or alienated children behind? How many of them have sold their self-respect or honor to reach those goals?
You also don't know what a successful person has done to achieve what they have. How many attractive people have spent a lot of time dieting, exercising, having dental work or even plastic surgery to get that look? Successful actors, musicians, athletes, inventors, writers, poets, engineers, or artists, for example, may have spent thousands of hours studying and perfecting their skills. They chose to give up the many enjoyable things their cohorts were doing in order to achieve their success.
Yes it's true that some people have inborn talents that most of us don't have, and they achieve success at an early age, but most of us have to work hard, be persistent, and practice our skills, realizing that we may not succeed as quickly as we'd like, but if we give up, or don't try something else, we'll never succeed.
Some people look in the mirror and see a failure. Whether it's a shattered relationship or a goal you didn't achieve this time, realize that you're no different than anyone else!
That billionaire didn't make money with every venture--he probably lost a lot of money at times. Plenty of people have relationships that fall apart before they find the right one, and experience financial strains, inter-familial conflicts, unemployment, illnesses, injuries, sexual problems and losses, yet they deal with it and go on to better days. You can, too!
Expecting things to be easy, or to go right every time is unrealistic.
If you need therapy, get it. There are therapists who will reduce their fees for people in need. Look for them. If something didn't work, don't stew over it. Try again, or try something different. If you feel lonely or unloved, do something nice for someone else. If it's hard to get started, put one foot in front of the other. If you can do it once, you can do it again. And again.
Stephanie Kay Bendel is the author of EXIT THE LABYRINTH: A Memoir of Early Childhood Depression – Its Onset and Aftermath, MAKING CRIME PAY: A Practical Guide to Mystery Writing, and A SCREAM AWAY, a romantic thriller published under the house name, Andrea Harris. She has also written numerous short stories and articles on writing.