So I’ve been depressed a lot lately. Really some of the worst I’ve experienced since being married. The good news is that last night I finally figured out WHAT was triggering it.
I was sitting there, wallowing, moody and depressed and my husband said “I thought you were in a good mood when we left work!” and I had indeed been. “So what happened?” I didn’t know. But it triggered me thinking about it… why was I depressed right then? When did it start today? And looking back at the pattern…
It’s funny, it was my Leadership Lab for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. A very positive thing was depressing the hell out of me. Specifically it was the “Finding your vision” exercise. Talk about something positive! The sort of thing that one expects to make one filled with joy or hope; talking about my wildest dreams and reaching for the stars. What if you won the lottery, what would you do? What matters the most to you? There are no wrong answers! Yeah, depressed the living hell out of me!
So it was a short journey from the WHAT to the WHY. Why was this depressing me?
It all goes back to childhood (naturally) and my low self esteem. My deep seated belief in my own inability to be correct. (Thanks Mom.) I am a horrible, evil, nasty, stupid, ugly, pick the epitaph, waste of human flesh. (I’m not reaching for compliments here, just trying to explain… I understand intellectually, of course, that I am really an above-average person with lots of good qualities. But emotionally I’m pulled back to that default established in the worst period of my life.) Specifically the response to believe that ANYTHING I choose or decide is wrong.
When I was a young professional working at the help desk (I think it was at the help desk… it’s a vague memory now.) There was a decision to be made, doesn’t matter the specific decision, just we had to pick A or B. And as we sat in a small group of the employees there that night discussing it I felt strongly in my gut that the answer was B. I knew it was B. And I asked the group… and a young student employee said confidently “I think A” so we did A. And when A proved quickly and disastrously to be the wrong choice I said “Ugh! I knew it was B!” and the student employee said “Why did you listen to me then? You have more experience than I do.” And it was as if a light-bulb went on.. she was right. I did have more knowledge and experience… why did I listen to her instead of going with my gut? And the answer was: Because she wasn’t me. I am flawed, other people are not. Therefore by NOT BEING ME, she must be correct.
How messed up is that?
And here it is again, there are no wrong answers on a ideal self vision building exercise but I am downright paralyzed by it because I KNOW I AM WRONG.
I stop myself from dreaming because whatever dream I pick will be the wrong one.
Anyway, the good news is that knowledge is power and just KNOWING this is at work is helping lift me out of the depression. Now when I try for the Nth time to do the “Finding my personal vision” exercise I will be fore-armed with knowledge and hopefully able to push through the self-loathing and self-doubt to actually finish the exercise and finally answer the question “What do I want?”