Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tallying judgment

Two days ago I met with a woman early in recovery. She was putting herself down left and right for not doing one thing "correctly" or not doing another as she thought she should. She thought being 6 months sober was not worth celebrating, as it was "no big deal." On and on she went, one self recrimination after another. I finally stopped her and pointed out how critical she was being, mostly of herself. She was passing judgments like they were going out of style.

She wasn't the only one. Yesterday I had to stop a patient from judging herself critically, too. This 94-year-old woman thought she should be doing better. Despite her newly fractured hip, she didn't think she should need "so much help." She kept replaying her "stupid fall" over and over again. I gently scolded her and encouraged her to be kinder to herself.

There are multiple definitions of the word judgment, but my favorite, and the one to which I most identify this week is simply, "criticism or censure." In my recovery, from both depression and alcoholism, I've come to understand how dangerous making judgments can be. It's as simple as this. Judgments are toxic to recovery. Unfortunately, understanding the toxicity of judgments doesn't necessarily prevent me from passing them.

I've gotten pretty good, but certainly not perfect, at avoiding judgment of others. When it comes to myself, however, I'm apparently still a little slow. Just last night, less than 24 hours after meeting with my newly sober friend, and less than 8 hours after gently scolding my patient, I was scolded myself. Oops.

While meeting with my sponsor, I was lamenting how poorly I was doing this and that. I wasn't good at this piece of my recovery program, not doing another piece as well as others in recovery. After my sponsor stopped chuckling, she cheerfully pointed out I was doing exactly the same thing for which I had reprimanded both my friend and my patient. I was critically judging myself, comparing my insides to others' outsides, she said. And what good was it doing? Absolutely no good whatsoever.

I've written about judgments here before. They are poison. They only serve to drag me down. I need to knock it off. I work hard to keep my mental health in check. Continuing to criticize myself, no matter how insignificant it may seem, will only undermine my efforts.

It appears it is again time for me to do the same assignment I assigned my friend two days ago. I'm going to carry around an index card tomorrow. Every time I catch myself making any kind of judgment, good or bad, about myself or others, I will tally it on the card. The goal is to raise my awareness. It's the first step toward change.

1 comment:

Irene said...

Is this thought, useful? Present moment awareness. Equanimity.

Nothing better than helping others and laughing about it.

Keep on going, human. Irene