How can I help myself when I don't deserve help?
April 11, 2012 5:58 AM   Subscribe

How do I help myself when I feel like I don't deserve it?

I've struggled with my mental health (depression, OCD, and anxiety) for the majority of my life (I'm 24), and within the past year or so it has gotten much worse, and right now is unbearable.

I have good days/weeks/hours, but they never last, and recently I was in the hospital when things got so bad I was feeling suicidal, which was a very traumatizing experience where I was mostly left alone in an ER for hours and hours and received no actual care. I've been unable to find a good therapist although I was looking, the one I had started seeing did something that really betrayed my trust/I didn't really feel comfortable with.

I feel like a worthless, awful person and I am sure everyone feels the same. Despite my diagnoses my problem is that lately I've stopped believing it's a matter of illness, and started very sincerely believing it's a matter of my own personal weakness and failure. I can't make myself take the SSRI that's been prescribed to me because I feel like I don't deserve to, that I am just a big faker who needs to try that much harder on my own, that it's my fault.

It's very difficult to do the basic things I need to do to care for myself, even trying what I think is my hardest (buying and eating food, sleeping, keeping my living space livable, looking for work, let alone any of the things that give me pleasure or comfort) and I have lost hope that I will ever be well, even if I do, somehow, convince myself it's okay to give meds and therapy a chance. A good description for how I usually feel is that something is slowly crushing or draining me from the inside.

My family is not a reliable source of help, and I am constantly afraid of burdening my friends too much and I don't want to make them hate me. I would appreciate some advice on what I should do, because I am very confused and ashamed and in a lot of pain.

Also, please be gentle! This is my first personal AskMe.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so sorry you feel this way, Anon. In the short term, burden a friend with helping you take your meds. You'd urge any friend to do the same, wouldn't you? Treat yourself as you would a friend, and know that your friends are willing to do the same.

Of COURSE you deserve good health. Do what you can to help yourself take your meds and get good therapy, and if that means leaning on friends right now, so be it. Because you deserve it, really you do.
posted by ldthomps at 6:11 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I feel like a worthless, awful person and I am sure everyone feels the same.

I don't think your worthless and I've never met you. I think you are a deeply rich person with a complex life, just the same as myself.

Mental health struggles are really hard, for the mind is fighting against itself, as you have said. Please be gentle with yourself. As a first step, when you are going to mention depression, instead of saying "I am depressed", try saying "there is depression present".

A basic course in CBT may help. If you want to start simply, pick up a copy of Feeling Good by David Burns. Do the exercises. You may not feel better immediately; keep at it. CBT is clinically proven to work on the majority of people that try it.

The shame trap is rough because you need help and the shame prevents you from asking for it. This post says you are not helpless. You are asking for it. You've already taken your first step.

We will be gentle with you. And now you have taking the first step to be gentle on yourself. There's something that has occured in the past that has taught you these beliefs. It doesn't matter what it was. You have established beliefs that are causing you pain. As a second step, maybe you want to say outloud, "it was not my fault." It may sound hollow at first. Keep saying it. Say it until you cry and you break that wall that has trapped you. Keep saying it. It is important to say it out loud.

If you want to chat more, you can set up a throw-away address at gmail or yahoo, and continue the anonymous conversations in private.
posted by nickrussell at 6:12 AM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

We've never met, but I can tell you with as much conviction as I have in anything: you're not worthless, and you do deserve it. Keep up your search for the right therapist (and possibly, med combination), and try not to worry too much about over-burdening your friends. That's what friends are for.

Twenty-four is still so young. It gets better. Much better. Trust me.
posted by Kevtaro at 6:21 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I feel like a worthless, awful person and I am sure everyone feels the same.

People spit on you? They kick you for no reason? They shout that you are a waste of resources and space and that you should get the hell out of their sight? They hide their babies from you? Servers refuse to serve you at restaurants?

I didn't think so.

You are neither worthless nor awful. You are in the grip of depression. Maybe it helps to think of it like being with an abusive spouse or lover: they don't want you to have any other friends; they don't want you to go out and be your usual lovely and interesting self; they don't want you to enjoy your life because enjoying your life is threatening to them. The big difference is that instead of having someone outside your life that's abusing you, it's a part of your psychological makeup that's doing it. You're doing it to yourself. That means that it's harder to identify. It's easy to get your depression confused with yourself, or with the room you're in.

Make no mistake: when you think that nobody will help you, or that you don't deserve any kind of happy life, that it's your fault that you feel this way and therefore you should just suck it up and live miserable, that is your depression lying to you. It is deeply jealous and insecure, so if you start to show signs of being interested in feeling things other than miserable, your depression will keep trying to cut your legs out from under you.

OP, please don't listen to your depression. Your life is the only thing you really have, the last thing that can ever be taken from you. You deserve to have it be better than it is. You maybe can't see it now, but you are a wonderful and interesting person from a long line of wonderful and interesting people, and you have -- I guarantee it -- tremendous potential to do good for yourself and for those around you. You deserve better. Not only that, but you can have better.

I don't know what you need specifically, but you will probably benefit from talking with a therapist. It's possible that medication of some sort will help you, and if so, please understand that taking prescribed medication for an illness, like wearing eyeglasses or putting a cast on a broken leg, does not mean anything about your worth as a person. It's possible that you just need to talk through some things with someone whose sole job is to listen to you, to keep your secrets safe, and to help you to become the person you want to be. Find someone like that, and talk to them.

And -- if you are comfortable disclosing this and you have friends that you trust -- talk to your friends. That is what friends are for: seeing one another through the valleys and applauding the heights. Your friends -- your true friends -- are not just there to enjoy you when you're up. They are also there to help you when you are down. I will bet that there is someone in your circle, even someone that you can trust, who has been through something like what you're going through. In fact, I will bet that person is someone you would not have expected to have been depressed, a high-performing person who does a lot of things well and is well-liked and seems to have it all together. Depression is not a shameful secret. It's just a thing that's making your life harder. With help, you can overcome it.

Take care of yourself. Please feel free to memail me if you like.
posted by gauche at 6:54 AM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]

On the medicine routine:
If you're storing your SSRIs in the prescription bottle, maybe burying them in amongst a bunch of other pills will take away the "now I'm taking my SSRI" trigger.

I've been taking a bunch of vitamins every day along with my regular meds. I've got one of those daily pill containers with AM/PM compartments, and once a week I fill them up. So, every morning and evening I just knock back the pills in today's box. Honestly, the only time I think specifically about what I'm taking is when I fill the thing (and, truthfully, not even then, really. At that point, it's "one of these, two of these, one of these,...). Twice a day it's just "swallow all those things, Chaz".
posted by chazlarson at 7:07 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

OP, I am very sorry that you are going through this. I wish I had the right words to say, words that would comfort you, but I'm only 21 myself and dealing with similar things. But, I hope that sharing my story helps you somehow. Please feel free to send me a memail because you are not alone even though it feels like you are on your own. I promise.


I also had a difficult time getting help because I thought that my way of living was 'normal' and that everyone felt in a similar way. I thought everyone felt anxious walking to a bus stop or hanging out with others. I thought other things related to my depression were normal too. But, these things (that you also mention in your post) indicate that you are struggling with your mental health.

I know that your experience in the ER felt traumatic, but the very act of getting there shows strength. It shows that you are willing to take care of yourself when you need help the most. You had the courage to get help by doing something that feels terrifying (walking into the hospital). You have also tried getting help by working with a therapist. Unfortunately, these experiences were not good for you, but it tells me something about you, something about your character. It tells me that you are emotionally strong and some part of you (even if it's small) believes that you deserve help and need help.

Getting help can feel like such a struggle, especially in the beginning when you are trying to find someone that you 'click' with. Sometimes I'm in a session and I come to the realization that I need help for an extended period of time. I cry when I realize this and say the words aloud. It's painful and still hard to believe that I need help. But, one of the mental health professionals that I work with pointed out that 1 in 5 people have depression or anxiety (something like that) which means that a lot of people struggle with their mental health, but not that many people talk about it.

The lovely professional that I work with also stated that I'll need long term care and slowly, but surely, I will be able to have more time in between sessions but that check ups will be something that I will need for quite some time. She said this is kind of like going to the doctors, people should go to the doctors to get check ups once in a while. And, while others can't generally see wounds from emotional struggles, you see and deal with these struggles on a daily basis. You have a difficult time waking up or sleeping at all. You would rather stay in the comfort of your own home. You don't have the energy to do certain things. A good day is when you don't cry. But, a good day should be when you laugh with others and know that you are loved. A good day should feel like you have accomplished a lot or did nothing at all, but felt happy about it. You are far from a failure, you are far from worthless as others have pointed out too.

The words "it has gotten much worse, and right now is unbearable" is a clear indicator that you need help. Life shouldn't feel unbearable. I personally agreed to take meds because I was in a similar place and I had no idea what would actually happen with the meds, but they created a safety net for me. At least, that's what my psychiatrist says. The meds helped create a safety net so that we could start working on my struggles. It takes time, currently we are just working on the 'now' and how to take better care of myself now. My psychiatrist recommended a book called The Womans Comfort Book and I'd recommend that you get a copy once you feel emotionally ready to do so.

You said that you don't want to burden your friends (which you wouldn't), but I can understand where you are coming from. I can also understand that family isn't a source of support for you. Which is why you need to be the support that you are looking for. Write in a journal daily and treat yourself with kindness. When you feel so incredibly depressed, try to view yourself from an 'outside' perspective. If you saw someone in your position, how would you treat this person?

Sorry for such a long post. Please feel free to memail me. Please also contact the mods so that they can update your location. That way, people can refer you to therapists that they have worked with or resources in the community.
posted by livinglearning at 7:08 AM on April 11, 2012

Keep your phone and your meds together (purse, bookbag, backpack, coat pocket, etc. Put an alarm on your phone. When it rings, take your meds.
Don't let the meds symbolize anything. Taking medication can be a really stressful experience, and it's easy to make it out to be a huge deal: what if they don't work? what if they "work" but I discover that life still sucks? what if they do work but I don't feel like myself? what if they do work and I'm happy but I have to take them forever? why am I doing this chemical thing that takes control away from me? why does the doctor think I need this? It's not about any of that, especially not right now. Accept that these are your meds. Once depression is not hte biggest thing in your life, the thing that's keeping you from thinking clearly and making good decisions, THEN you can go back and start thinking about the whys and ifs of taking medications, but right now, it's like trying to find a flashlight hidden in a totally dark room. Accept help, get the light from outside first, find your flashlight, and then you can decide where you want to go from there. For now, the important thing is to take those pills regularly, and get your brain chemicals back into balance. Don't think about WHY and WHAT IF, just set the alarm, and take the pill when it beeps.
posted by aimedwander at 7:11 AM on April 11, 2012

Reduce it to a material problem and not a metaphysical one. Something is different about your brain chemistry. Neurons are misfiring and you've got too much or not enough dopamine or serotonin floating around. How would that be your fault? You wouldn't say someone was worthless because they had a brain tumor, right? Even though brain tumors frequently make people act wonky. You don't have a tumor, but something else is wonky, and the wonkiness is alleviated by the medication.

The actions you take affect that physical problem. Someone with a rotator cuff injury has to go to physical therapy. They're not stupid or worthless because their shoulder is busted. They're doing what they need to do to be able to use it again. PT can suck sometimes and make it hurt worse in the short term. You're stuck taking pain meds and feeling like a zombie sometimes. You're stuck in bed and it sucks. You have to ask friends for help lifting and carrying things. Maybe driving you places. You can't magically heal a rotator cuff on your own. But sticking with the program will make it better.

Talk Therapy = Physical Therapy. Ibuprofen and ice packs = SSRIs. Same thing.

I'm sure you get my point by now. You're going to run into people who have their own issues (the therapist, the poorly-run ER) but you can soldier on because there is a light at the end of the tunnel. LOTS of people have recovered from depression. LOTS of people have been helped by medication. It's been a godsend to me.
posted by desjardins at 7:49 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am constantly afraid of burdening my friends too much and I don't want to make them hate me.

I meant to address this a minute ago. Decent, well-meaning people won't hate you for talking about your feelings. That's not how it works. Even if you talk about them a little too much and you end up becoming -- God forbid -- boring. Nobody worth being friends with will hate you for that.

People will hate you for sleeping with their significant other, for running over their dog, for trashing their apartment, for stealing their stuff, for disrespecting them in a lot of ways. They won't hate you for respectfully asking them to help you get through a hard time. They may not help you, they may try to help you and be no help at all, they may even be spectacularly bad at compassion and end up making it worse. But they won't hate you.

If they do hate you, they are bad people. That has nothing whatsoever to do with you.
posted by gauche at 7:57 AM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]
posted by fragmede at 7:59 AM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

... because I feel like I don't deserve to ...

what is "deserve"? everyone deserves everything, no one deserves anything. "deserve" is a normative concept, it has no basis in the physical world. anyone can make up any reason for anyone to deserve anything, and all opinions about who deserves what equally right.

"deserve" is a broken concept, and should be avoided.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:25 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hi anonymous, I hope you're reading these and feeling less alone, because you are not the only metafilter member to have felt worthless while being depressed. I understand what you say when you said it feels like you're being drained or crushed, and ashamed to feel that way, cause I've felt that too, and I was able to stop feeling that way. I know it feels like it will be like this forever, but it won't. You have been so strong and done so much of the hard work already- figured out that you need help and gotten some in the form of your pills. You deserve to feel good again and I know you can. Take the drugs, call a friend and tell them that you need some friendship and support today- I know they will be there for you and won't hate you. I promise that your friends are concerned and miss you, and would love the chance to bring you some takeout and enjoy a meal with you. Memail me if you want to talk to a stranger who will not judge nor hate you, or if you can't get in touch with anyone IRL (and if you're in los angeles, i'd love to share lunch with you today!). Many hugs to you.
posted by holyrood at 10:08 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I feel like a worthless, awful person and I am sure everyone feels the same.

This is your brain lying to you. Find a therapist, (almost) any therapist. I chose one pretty much at random from the Psychology Today list for my area, and he's been good for me.
posted by rhizome at 10:16 AM on April 11, 2012

How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me, by Susan Rose Blauner, is an incredible book. The author's experiences will likely resonate with your own.

And your experiences resonate so much with mine. The weight of self-loathing is just a horrible burden to carry around.

I am so sorry you have gotten shitty care from that ER and the therapist who betrayed your trust. It is hard enough to reach out for help; having to start the process over again can feel totally exhausting. But please, please do it. You need help and there are people out there who can help you.

Don't let the rogue elements in your brain kill you or make you miserable. Sometimes I think of my depression as little tiny terrorists running around setting off bombs just to fuck up all the good stuff going on in my life. Venceremos!
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:30 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

This isn't a long term solution, but just a tactic to try.

Fake it

Make a short list of things people who take care of themselves do. Eat healthy. Take a quick walk. Drink water.

When you get up in the morning, tell Depression:

"Depression, I have a few things to do today. I'm faking it, but for a little while today I'm going to shower, eat, drink water, and take a quick walk. Don't worry. You and I know that I'm faking it. You can have me for the whole rest of the day. When I'm not eating, drinking, getting dressed, taking a walk, I'm all yours. Just let me do these few things. Oh! And also when my friends call...I'm going to pretend to listen to what they say, ask a few follow up questions. But, you know, I'll be faking it."

When you start realizing that you're in a relationship with Depression, (an abusive one) you can start planning your way out of it. But, you know, it helps to be physically healthy for that. So keep eating your veggies, drinking water, etc. Even if you have to fake it.
posted by vitabellosi at 10:32 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Get CBT For Dummies on Amazon immediately and start reading it

Develop a routine as soon as possible starting with you morning wash etc

Do not read the tabloids and avoid bad news channels and negative TV shows

Watch comedies

Get yourself checked for nutritional deficiencies such as omega 3,6,9 Magnesium and Amino Acids

Eat more whole foods such as fruit Apricots especially and nuts

Exercise every day start off slowly and build up your body will thankyou for it

Take a magnesium supplement and avoid processed foods

Eat fresh unsweetened yoghurt daily


Smile even if it is forced

Write down three things you are thankful for everyday

Eat loads of turkey and drink beer if you partake in booze otherwise find a drink called super malt and drink that

Depression is just a way for the body and mind to tell you that you need to slow down and stop worrying combined with deficiencies that modern diets cause
posted by RichMackay at 6:24 AM on May 13, 2012

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