No matter how successfully we manage to push back the stigma around depression, it will probably always cause some people shame. Not because depression is inherently shameful (it’s not), but because people often feel shame about the results of depression: the dishes left undone, the friends ignored, the productive hours wasted.
Margaret Wehrenberg, Psy.D., explains this depression and shame connection at Psychology Today.
The lethargy of depression is like a gravitational pull to slow down and by itself is the major block to getting things done. The lawn does not get mowed, the bills are not paid, the homework is not completed, the report remains unfinished in the computer. Undone work is the hallmark of depression when lethargy is the dominant symptom. And people feel ashamed of not fulfilling their obligations. They judge themselves as weak, and try to stay under the radar about what they are not doing because when the tasks of life go undone the risk of being judged by others goes up. For students the judgment may be a bad grade. For an employee it may be the risk of a performance improvement plan being started (or failed). And for a homemaker, the knowledge that the family is living in a mess or not eating well adds to the self-disparagement so common to those with depression.
In It’s Gonna Be Ok, that shame begins with an uncomfortable realization: you haven’t fed your cat and you’re out of cat food. You have to leave your room to fix that problem, but that’s not easy to do when you’re this depressed.
It’s a small game that does a great job of evoking how crippling shame can be for some of us. We’ll let it speak for itself, but here’s one small hint: if you’re not sure how to get going, check in with your cat.
And if you’re not sure how to deal with shame in your own life, know that there are options. This HealthCentral article has a number of recommendations, including cognitive behavioral therapy, journaling, and general depression treatment. If you feel ashamed of specific incidents, ShareCare offers an approach for reevaluating the source of your shame that involves examining the evidence and dealing with the results. Remember, a professional will be able to help you find the best fit for your situation.