Lately, I’ve been feeling like a failure. Like someone who is unsuccessful and doesn’t give back to the community. Like someone who will never be a productive member of society. Like my life is worthless. Like I was a fraud for going to a Returned Peace Corps Volunteers event because I only completed 5 months of service. I’ve felt hopeless, helpless, lonely, and ashamed. You guys seemed to really like my last Intervention Letter, so I’ve decided to write another one for how I’m currently feeling.
The quote on the right says, “We have done the impossible and that makes us mighty.”
-Captain Malcolm Reynolds
The Intervention Letter (Assignment from Park Ridge IOP)
“The script each person reads during a family intervention is called the intervention letter. We are going to be writing an intervention letter to ourselves regarding our negative core beliefs.
Ideally, you want your letter to:
- Communicate genuine love and compassion for yourself, and to convey that you only want to see yourself get better
- Help yourself realize the severity of the impact of the core belief on daily life
- Help yourself to understand that your belief and its daily self-talk manifestations and behavioral impact cause hurt and pain
- Clearly express commitment to accept change through challenging negative core beliefs and living as if you believed new balanced beliefs about yourself/others/world
- Clearly express the consequences of not adjusting beliefs and living with old patterns of negative thinking”
Look at you, out in the world doing things even though you’re depressed and all you want to do is stay in bed and watch Netflix all day every day! You took two memoir writing classes, you’re taking a sewing class, you’ve gone bowling and out for tea and to numerous movies, even some where you had to sit by people you didn’t know. You’ve somewhat kept up with your blog, you’re doing a podcast and blog with Joanne about mental health that is helping who knows how many people, and you try your very hardest to be there for your friends when they need you. You submitted an essay you wrote to eleven different publications. Even though you haven’t gotten published yet, you will one day. You are courageous, strong, intelligent, and giving. You write well and you take good care of River. Even the vet said you’re a good dog mom. You make a conscious choice every day to do Opposite Action- getting out of bed and going and doing things even though you want to hide away from the world and everyone in it.
Your core belief that you are a failure is affecting everything in your life. It changes the way you view yourself, others, and the world around you. You are constantly comparing yourself to other people’s success even though their definitions of success may be very different from what your definition of success needs to be right now because of your illness. You are depressed. You have been depressed for seven months. You need to cut yourself some slack. It is not feasible or realistic right now to expect yourself to have a job or own a home or buy a new car. It is not fair to you to judge yourself based on where the lives of people you love are or are going. You have different needs from them right now.
Your job is to keep getting out of the bed, day after day, until one day it doesn’t feel so monumental. Your job is to try to keep showering as often as possible. Your job is to take your medications as prescribed. Your job is to go to therapy for your appointments. Your job is to have active conversations with your psychiatrist about what the next step is. Your job may or may not include ECT in the coming months, which I know is very scary for you. Your job is to keep yourself alive. 1 in 3 people with Bipolar Disorder attempt suicide and 1 in 5 successfully complete suicide. Your job is to not become one of those statistics. In those respects, you are very much not a failure. When you change your definition of success, which won’t happen overnight, you’ll see that you are accomplishing great things for where you are in your life and in light of the fact that you have Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Attacks. You are alive after suffering from Bipolar Disorder for 3.5 years. That in itself is a feat you should be proud of.
Your self-talk about you being a failure and your life being worthless has a horrible effect on your mood. I know that it’s hard to change your self-talk, especially when you are depressed and feel like everything is horrible and going horribly wrong, but try to use your Thought Diary Worksheets to help you come up with better and healthier ways of thinking about yourself. Telling yourself “I am worthless”, “I don’t deserve to go to RPCV functions”, “I’ll never amount to anything”, “I am not a productive citizen”, “I am incapable of helping others”, and all of the other self-talk you have been using lately is unhealthy. It is demeaning and untrue. It’s time to print out those worksheets and keep them with you in your purse. It’s time to keep copies beside your bed. It’s time to really use them because you know how well they can work to change negative thinking patterns. It’s time to commit to different ways of thinking. You must at least try, even if you don’t believe the “balanced thoughts” section at the end of the worksheet at first. You must keep trying and trying until you start to belief in your worth as a person again.
If you keep going down this road, you will just become more and more depressed. If you keep letting these thoughts control you, you could have to be hospitalized again. If you don’t start trying for change, you’ll never know how much better you could feel. I know it’s hard when depression has you in it’s grips. I know it feels like this will never end and you will always feel this way, but you’ve come out of this before and you will come out of it again, even if it means increasing your medication by a bunch or doing Electro Convulsive Therapy. You are so loved by so many people and you owe it to yourself and to them to do your best to get better. So please, try the worksheets to help you overcome some of your “Stinkin’ Thinkin’.”
Thought Diary 3- Resource for Negative Thinking