When Depression Makes You Feel Like a Failure

I’ll be honest: it took me a long time to learn how to live with chronic mental health challenges. It was a bit of a bumpy road, and there were some definite missteps in the process. Some days, it felt like I was just doing a trial and error for how I lived my life. This process is fluid and ongoing, which means that new challenges will continue to pop up, but managing these challenges makes up a big part of my day-to-day life. However, one of the flip sides of this has been that sometimes, I inadvertently cling to a routine I’ve created and feel like a failure if I decide to change that schedule. It’s had a negative impact on my mental health, but sometimes it’s just as hard to recognize as it is to adapt to.

I’ve written before about how creating a routine can be very valuable for your mental health, but maintaining a healthy attitude and relationship with that routine and schedule is just as important. When we find what works, it can help us live healthier day-to-day lives. But it’s easy to get lost in finding what works as you go about your day.

In fact, it can create situations where we’re so focused on doing the things we know will be effective that we’re afraid to make any amendments to that schedule. I often feel bad for not sticking to a schedule that I created myself, forgetting that I have just as much power to change my schedule as I did to create that schedule in the first place.

Sometimes I feel like my posts are a windy road to the point I want to get to, especially when it’s about my own mental health. I like having examples to share my point of view, but it can also work to be blunt (something I’m working on!). So here goes: I feel like a failure when I decide not to do something I normally do. When I delay things, or decide to do something later in the week or month, I feel like I’ve failed in doing that thing. It’s almost like I’ve created a to-do list for my life and given it an arbitrary deadline that I’ll never actually meet. And I have no idea if anyone else feels the same way.

One damaging aspect of depression is that it can make you believe you’re powerless, like you don’t have control over anything. And when you live with that mindset for long enough, you forget that you’ve ever had control over anything. That feeling can seep into so many different pockets of life, and can turn you into a bystander for your own experience. To have agency over my actions – to be active and not passive – means that I have to think I matter enough to do that. And depression can trick me into thinking I don’t matter enough. Which can mean viewing changes and adjustments as failures, which is an attitude I hope I can change with time.

What’s the best way to deal with these feelings of failure? Do you try to avoid them entirely, or have you found ways to manage them in a healthy way? I love hearing other people’s experiences, let me know in the comments.

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