1. Write out the 10 worst moments of your life.
- All the moments I witnessed my sister being abused by our mom. All the moments I was the direct target of our mom’s violence.
- The day my partner and I separated, even if we agreed that this was temporary.
- The sexual abuses when I was a kid. The sexual assault years after.
- Each time I coped with what happened in an unhealthy/destructive way.
- All the events that happened around my brother’s disappearance. It’s like a collection of scenes to me and each one of them is painful.
- At my sister’s wedding, which happened a few weeks after our brother passed away. My parents wouldn’t go there/they couldn’t handle this. I was the only person to represent our family. My brother and I were supposed to be the witnesses. I couldn’t help but thinking about the empty chair next to me.
- The moment my brother and I received a phone call to tell us that our grandma passed away, the only grandparent I ever knew and loved. We were on a hike, far away, and came back home as quick as possible.
- The suicide attempts of my mom.
- All the days I struggled with eating disorders to the point of feeling like I would die because of it.
- All the recent events in my life that are health-related. The rollercoaster of emotions that goes along with it.
2. Write 10 moments you’ve been stressed out recently.
- When I made the decision to see a therapist.
- When I was caught in tensions I didn’t ask and had absolutely no control on the situation.
- When my family and I learned about a genetic condition in our family, the possibility for my sister and I to have it.
- When I felt crippled by difficult memories.
- When I realized that I’m late again to pay the bills.
- When my mind starts to spiral and I think of all the things I should or shouldn’t do.
- When I thought about the perspective of having to work again.
- When I felt like I was back at square 1 in regards of my depression, because of covid/quarantine.
- When I have the thought: what if my treatments doesn’t work? What if remission doesn’t happen? And I start to worry about all of it.
- When I felt numb to the point of wanting to hurt myself.
3. Write 10 activities your depression keeps you from doing.
- To go outside as much ad I’d like, whether it’s to spend some time alone or with friends/relatives.
- To take care of my body.
- To exercise.
- To handle daily life normally: groceries, paying bills in due time, cleaning (…).
- To be effective as I’d like at work - when I have a job.
- To sleep regularly and have enough rest.
- To focus on something for a long time + read as much as I’d like to.
- To enjoy hobbies and learn/progress as I’d like: music, photography, drawing, crochet.
- To eat healthy.
- To use my time in a way that is fulfilling/meaningful to me.
4. What do you feel is the reason behind your depression? (List all options you checked.)
- Stress/life events
- Past pain/traumas
5. Look back at the reasons you chose behind your depression AND your top ten worst moments.
a) What patterns do you notice in these situations?
I tend to think that the reasons I checked are often intertwined/mixed. That the worst moments I described impacted me in many different ways at the same time. It’s mostly about traumas/past pains, stressful events, losses (relationships, physical and spiritual) and helplessness.
b) Because of them, what are some things you now believe about life?
- That love has many different definitions.
- That family is the one we chose.
- That life can be unfair, full of injustices I can’t understand.
- That “good” or “bad” doesn’t exist and things are always more complicated, more subtle.
- That forgiveness and nonviolence is a beautiful response in face of violence, so it doesn’t perpetuate itself.
- That life is very fragile, short, full of mysteries and questions that will never be answered. That time is precious.
- That it’s essential to say “I love you” to our beloved ones when we still have the occasion.
- That words are as much powerful as actions.
- That it’s essential to rech out when we need it.
- That shame, silence and taboo are destructive.
c) What about yourself?
- That I have to constantly amend myself for existing.
- That I’m meant to be used, to please others.
- That I have to hide how I feel.
- That I am likely to be a bad mother if I have kids one day, just like my own mother was.
- That I’m tainted by others hatred.
- That I am stronger than I think.
- Than I’m not worth God’s attention.
d) And others?
- That everyone is dealing with their own pain. And violence is, for some people, a way to express that.
- That parents are only human.
- That we are all equals in regards of at least one thing: our need for love and safety.
- That each one of us is able to do the worst or the best.
6. Now look back at the top 10 stressors in your life and answer the following:
a) If you could perfectly control these circumstances, what would you make happen?
I would make sure that my brother heal and recover, so he could live the life he deserved. I will let him know that he is loved, so much. I would be there for him along this process.
I will make sure that the people who sexually abused/assaulted me have enough love and compassion for themselves to never do that to me or anyone else.
I would make sure that my mother never hurt my sister. Otherwise, I would call social services.
I would make sure that my grandma leave this world without suffering like she did.
I would reach out more effectively and receive the help I need to recover from eating disorders as soon as possible.
I would tell someone about the sexual assault, so I don’t let myself drown and use unhealthy ways to cope at the moment.
I would discuss with my partner and have the conversations we needed sooner.
I would allow myself to share more about my health issues, the recovery process, without feeling ashamed because of this or being afraid of burdening others.
b) What are you afraid will happen because you can’t control these circumstances?
I am afraid to live with all the pain related to all of these events for my entire life. I am afraid to come to the conclusion that life is nonsense and not worth it. I am afraid not to see any sense of justice or restoration in my own life. I am afraid of being constantly powerless, helpless. I am afraid to lose all the people I love without having the right to say or do anything. I am afraid to disappear without having the opportunity to really live. I am afraid to lose faith and hope definitely, in God and in humanity. I am afraid to be a spectator of my own life.
c) What patterns do you notice in the situations that stress you out? Are there similar patterns behind your reasons for depression and the things that stress you out? If so, what’s the connection?
Powerlessness/helplessness is the major issue for me. It’s like parts of myself, of my heart and my self were taken away from me for each of these situations. I have a hard time to heal and regain the peace I need, to let go of things I can’t control, to tame this part of my mind screaming “it’s unfair” again and again. It’s hard to believe in life again, to trust others again. But another part of me is also full of strong beliefs and hope. In the middle, depression is tackling me.
7. Finally, look back on the top ten activities depression keeps you from doing and answer the following:
a) What is it you believe that keeps you from doing those things?
- Anxiety/fears + cognitive distortions
- Lack of self-confidence
- Negativity/nostalgia/letting myself drowned sometimes
- Stepping out of my comfort zone
b) What are you afraid will happen if you actually do them?
It’s as difficult question. But I guess I’m afraid to actually feel okay, and to feel uncomfortable to be okay, to conclude that I don’t deserve this.
c) How do you connect with others? Do your reasons behind depression hinder those relationships? If so, why?
It affects my relationships because I don’t interact as much as I want (or should, depending on the context). It makes be a loner while I love both alone moments and socializing moments. Generally people understand that I am easily drained by interactions, so I reach out when I feel okay for that. Sometimes I don’t interact for a long time and it happened that people thought that I don’t care about them, which is not the case.
d) Try reaching out to someone you trust to share your reasons. That conversation around your depression can even be online. Then report here what people said. Was it similar to your experience?
My sister and I regularly have open-hearted conversations about our mental health, as we go through similar experiences and we tend to know each other as if we were twins. I didn’t reach out particularly for this exercise, but I know she is there for me and she understands without judging.