“There’s a potential inside of you that needs to be unleashed.”Tweet
You know, it’s the damndest thing: depression’s voice makes you feel like you’re useless. Am I right? And as if that weren’t enough, anxiety overwhelms you, hijacks your mind and tells you things like, “No one likes you” or that “you can’t do something because, you know, anxiety.” And man, don’t even get me started on what PTSD does to a person
But why are these mental health conditions so impactful on how we view ourselves? Well, other than the obvious, they make you feel worthless and scared. I would argue that they do much more than that. Chief among them, at least as far as I’m concerned, is their power to fool us into thinking that low levels of serotonin are producing our authentic selves. Low levels of these brain chemicals have been linked to depression.
Interestingly, these alterations in brain chemicals have a detrimental effect on what makes us, well, us. For example, many who have a bout of sudden-onset depression say they don’t feel like themselves. Well, it’s because they aren’t themselves, at least not to the degree they are when well.
If I could pick on depression just a bit more, I’d like to add that a small thing like looking at one’s phone can feel like one is trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube in the dark. That’s how tough it can be to negotiate around depression’s low.
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So, the interesting question is, “What is the impact of mental illness’s influence on us in our overall outlook on ourselves?” In other words, what is the aftermath of repetitive depressive episodes, anxiety attacks and traumatic stress reactions?
Shame, regret, fear, feeling like a failure? It’s as though the way we start to feel about ourselves is a side effect of the mental illness. If anxiety is fear response and depression is a low that it makes one feel like they’re crawling through molasses, then, yes, I can see it doing a number on confidence and self-esteem. Can you? Furthermore, if you no longer feel like you, then who are you? The disorder you have been diagnosed with? Nah, I don’t believe that.
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While it’s true that you may “feel” like you have been defeated, changed and otherwise robbed of your essence, that’s not true. In fact, I know “There’s a potential inside of you that needs to be unleashed.”
How do I know this? Simple, you first understand that you are under the influence of your own chemistry, or, in the case of PTSD, you are can often be at the mercy of a malformed amygdala; the regions of the brain that regulate or fight, flight or freeze response.
These abnormalities make you say things like, “no one likes me,” (anxiety) or makes you jump at every noise (PTSD). They are symptoms, they are not you; no matter how integrated into your personality they may seem, they are not. Hence, “There’s a potential inside of you that needs to be unleashed”
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So, if your anxiety disorder keeps you from doing the things that make you, you; do them anyway. If PTSD, has you in its grip, get out of the house and commit to coffee with a friend…. You probably will be bothered by the noise, but the time with your friend can be make you whole, like you again, if only for a while.
“You are and always will be, worth way more than you think you are.”Jonathan Arenburg.