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Depression and Abandoning Yourself

"I feel abandoned," is a phrase I hear often in couples work.  Of course abandoned isn't a feeling at all.  It is an evaluation of what you think the other person has done.   Underneath are likely feelings of hurt, fear, sadness, and needs for connection, consideration, and love.

Abandonment has been one of the biggest issues with which I have worked.  I call it simply, my abandonment trigger.  Through counseling I became aware of the ways in which my parents abandoned me when I was growing up.  This has been important to realize and what has been equally important is seeing the ways in which I have abandoned myself as an adult.

Often when I think someone is abandoning me, I am abandoning myself.
In this context I define abandoning yourself as disconnecting from your feelings and needs and making decisions from guilt, obligation, and "should's".  When this is done consistently over a period of time, you will likely become depressed.

You might have all sorts of reasons for setting your feelings and needs aside.  For example, you might say one or more of the following to yourself:

-I shouldn't be upset, it's not that big of a deal
-I agreed to do this so I just have to do it
-S/he will be happy if I just go along with it
-No one else is feeling this way, I shouldn't
-I am the bigger person, I don't have to talk about my needs

Often these voices are in the background guiding your decisions little by little.  When this goes undetected you might find yourself suddenly feeling angry and resentful accusing another of abandoning you or not caring about what you need.

This week listen for the voices of self-abandonment.  Each time you hear them turn to honoring yourself.  You might say something like, "It's okay to feel this feeling; it's okay to have these needs, how can I care for another and still honor my own needs?"

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5 Responses

  1. Dec 09, 2011

    One of the things I notice about depression is that it is a place where activity, any activity, becomes hard. I can understand with compassion the tendency to want someone else to act on my behalf, and with that the focus of blame, "He/she is abandoning me". How to stimulate my own presence and activity on my own behalf... now that is depression's challenge.

  2. Dec 10, 2011

    Yes, Ali, that's a very good point. We will be working that today in the workshop.

    Part of what we will work in taking some baby steps toward shifting out of the depressed state just enough to begin naming names.

  3. Dec 23, 2011

    Thank you for your gems. They truly are treasures. I enjoy each one. And, somehow, they tend to be in synch with my current feelings. Appreciate you!

  4. Dec 25, 2011

    thank you Barbara. So glad to know it.

  5. May 14, 2012
    Lisa H

    Thanks so much for this and for all your other gems, they help me a lot. I can really relate to this one and also the one about big personalities. I've often thought in quite a harsh way that maybe if I just got on with things like everyone else then I wouldn't be depressed which translates as the fourth thing that you listed, its good to realise this.

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