Depression is widely stigmatized in our society. The stigma can lead people who do not struggle with it to misunderstand and impose judgment on those who do. Others perceptions can also impact the way depression is managed or felt about as in meta-emotions. If you feel depressed about feeling depressed this would be your meta-emotion. A person may feel even stronger depression when observing the opposite, more positive experience in others around you. Imposing more feelings onto of them can overwhelm you and keep you stuck. There are many parts to the emotional experience of someone struggling with depression.
- What are the messages you received about depression growing up?
- How did you see the adults in your life deal with depression?
- What happened when you displayed depression to them?
- How did your peers handle depression?
- What goes on for you when you think of a friend or family member dealing with depression?
- What did depression look like for you?
What would it be like to accept your feelings, as they are without labeling them with a meta-emotion?
Work through this exercise to isolate out your individual feelings.
Write down the strongest feeling you are experiencing right now.
“I feel _______”
When people struggle to manage depression, they often feel more negatively than if it were someone else's experience due the way they feel about their own feelings.
Try rereading your feeling statement out loud, five times slowly.
Let it leave your mouth without allowing your mind or body's sensation of the feeling to do what it would normally do whether that be trying to banish having it at all or pretending it to be a different emotion on the outside.
Notice what changes in your body as you repeat those words. Now write down all of the things getting in the way of stating the simple “I feel ____” statement. These messages and other feelings that come up combine to form the more complex and difficult to identify experience of meta-emotions within your struggle with depression.
- What are the messages you received about this emotion growing up?
- How did you see the adults in your life deal with that single emotion?
- What happened when you showed the emotion to them?
- Through tears?
- By yelling at others?
- Inability to be alone with relaiance on others?
- How do your peers handle this emotion?
- What goes on for you when you think of a friend or family member dealing with this feeling?
Experiencing strong emotions while struggling with depression is very exhausting. You may be caught in a cycle of making the emotions less manageable than their real, raw form is a great step towards managing them in healthier ways. Understanding more about your meta-emotion process can help you focus on the meaning they have for you rather than fueling the depression. If you still struggle to let go of feeling depressed about struggling with depression, contact the Center for Growth to consult with therapists trained to help coach you through them.