Born with a Male Label, you are expected to keep going through life’s journey. Go it alone if you have to, but don’t ask for help. But what if the fog of Depression descends? How do you find your way through without veering too close to the cliff’s edge?
The ideal is to get help, and professional help if you can. (Think therapist parachuted straight to your current location.) But this is often far from reality. There are many obstacles in the way of professional help, and so you need to tool up to help yourself until the professionals arrive.
Don’t Listen to the Enemy Within
In that fog of Depression, the biggest threat that you will face is the Enemy Within. He lies deep within you and he whispers cruel criticisms that burn your confidence like acid. Nothing you do is ever good enough, and there are times when you wonder why you bother at all.
You have to stop listening to that Jackass. You would never let the Enemy Within criticise and dismiss someone you love, so why allow him to talk to you that way? Why not try a bit of Self-Compassion to quieten the Enemy Within?
Self-Compassion is kryptonite for the Enemy Within
I guess, like most people, you have been raised to think of others. Self-Compassion is one of those words that leaves people feeling just a little bit icky. The same can be said for Self-care, Self-Esteem, and Self-Love.
I guess the fear is that by ‘selfing’, you are going to be viewed as selfish or indulgent. Far better to think of others, right? And thinking of others is all very noble, but if you neglect yourself so much that you end up forever lost in the fog, or falling over the edge of a cliff, how is that helpful for anyone?
You don’t need to neglect others to exercise a bit of Self-Compassion. It only takes one or two times a day to reflect on something you did well or something you did not do so badly.
And if that is not enough to quieten the Enemy Within, try a bit of reality-testing: Find evidence to dispute whatever the Enemy is bitching about. If he calls you a ‘Failure’ for missing a deadline, look for all the times you have met a deadline. And does one missed deadline mean you are a complete Failure?
The Enemy Within, with that caustic, self-critical voice, feeds on your sense of Self-Esteem. If the Enemy Within had his way, you would have none of it left, so you need to protect it from him. To do this, you have to appreciate the intrinsic value of you; you have value regardless of any external achievement. You are of value because you are a human being, not because of the size of your bank account, the size of your group of friends, or the size of your house. The Enemy Within will try to distract you with these glittery things, so you are so busy pursuing them that you overlook the most valuable part of you: Your intrinsic worth, Male Label and all.
It can be lonely journeying through life with the Male Label slapped on your back. And when the fog of Depression descends, it can be easy to get lost. But with just a little bit of Self-Compassion and Self-Esteem, you will feel your way through to a clearer state of mind.
So what do you think?
Does any of this resonate with you? Get in touch by sending me a message privately via the Contact Page, or add a public comment below, and engage in the debate
Chris Warren-Dickins LLB MA LPC
Therapist, writer, educator, and LGBTQ+ advocate