While there are many stigmas around mental health issues, I think some of those deep dark underbelly feelings we may have during a heavy depressive episode are not only shoved under the carpet, but seen as taboo to acknowledge or talk about.
For me that is the feeling of resentment born from bitterness, which in turn is born from repressed anger.
When life has lost its sweetness; when life has become a feeling of bitterness, it can transform into resentment. Many psychological articles talk about resentment and overcoming resentment between two people, but what about when you have depression and you are just feeling bitter and resentful 24/7 about life as a whole?
The cruel truth of the matter is that the inner world of a depressed person is only allowed to be shared so far, but speak of the ugly voices like bitterness, resentment, envy, judgement towards others and nope! That’s not a topic we like to air, or as my mother would say, ‘Don’t air your dirty linen in public’, but in the essence of openness I want to say that during depressive episodes I have felt incredibly envious, bitter and resentful and if I am honest with myself, the more life did not meet my expectations, the more bitter and resentful I have felt, until I acknowledged it.
We can’t change our lives unless we know our lives. If we don’t know our innermost secrets or those icky thoughts deep within that we try to hide away from peering eyes, we can’t change them.
As humans we all have flaws and belief systems that probably don’t match who we really are, that is the whole human being that we came into this world as. Most of us have a darker side and it is the pushing away and resisting the darker side that can often cause the greatest suffering for us.
My shadow had been revealing itself very powerfully as I stepped into the light and was seen for the first time properly (when I launched the radio station). I thought I had dealt with a lot of it that had come up. I thought I had tended to the sore, fragile and painful parts, but as life would have it, I hadn’t, not fully anyway.
Life Is Like A Spiral
Life is like a spiral. We don’t go backwards; we just go around and up the spiral and often we revisit areas we may need to take another once over before we step into our personal power fully.
I was going deeper into a depressive episode once again, the dark was overwhelming me and I decided to start talking openly about the inner feelings that happen, the true mucky stuff that we are told to keep inside. It turns out I was not the only one. Many people were feeling very sensitive and in pain at this time and many related to what I was saying, but could I dare share some of the even darker stuff?
So I did.
I realised I had been focusing on what I lacked so much that it was all I saw. And because I was so focused on lack, lack of money, lack of friends, lack of fun and joy, not only did I not see what was in my life to appreciate, but I was becoming very bitter and resentful of those I perceived to have it easier.
They probably didn’t have it easier, but the ego likes to believe it does. It’s like that.
I always knew I had programming that was deeply embedded into my unconscious from my mother, the ‘It’s alright for some’ was so strong in me that I had not realised how much it was fuelling my bitterness and resentment.
I Didn’t Want To Be Bitter Anymore!
I didn’t want to be bitter and resentful anymore. I didn’t want to focus on lack all of the time, but because of that programming I was clueless about how to appreciate what I had or to be grateful for what is in my life. It felt like a switch was turned off and I could count intellectually the things I could be grateful for, but that’s all. It was an intellectual process, not a fully integrated feeling.
So I started to realise that I can’t leap straight to gratitude or appreciation. I needed to first unravel the programming. We can’t suddenly be positive about something that has been so negative and so deep for so long.
The first step with any darker programming is to know that we have it.
The second step is acknowledging that it served a purpose; it protected us from further pain in a warped way. For example, bitterness and resentment protected my fragile ego from feeling even more worthless than it did for all those years by projecting that pain outwards. I was not in a place to own the pain I felt, so I had to blame and judge others for having what I had perceived that I wanted.
The third step is understanding that if we can feel bitter, then we can feel the sweetness of life. If we can feel resentment, then we can absolutely feel contentment in life. We just need to start the journey of becoming aware of when we are locked into the resentment/bitterness cycle.
This is the simple beginning.
How do we move from bitterness to sweetness or resentment to contentment? When we begin to feel the darkness and ask what are we currently bitter or resentful about? And what in our lives right now is something we have not been appreciating? It could be a loved one who brings us a cup of coffee each day, a cat or dog who loves us unconditionally, it could be looking for the very simple ‘under our noses’ sweetness that is there already and then do all we can, even in the midst of depression to focus on that, even if just for a minute a day, this is a beginning after all.
As we feel this we can increase it.
While you may feel bitter or resentful towards a specific person or incident in your past, forgiveness can feel a difficult thing to do, but it is a very important step. And remember you are not forgetting what happened, but you are freeing yourself from the pain that comes with unforgiveness. The thing about forgiveness is that you can’t force it, until you are ready.
Forgiveness for me is more about a whole forgiveness of life. Bitterness and resentment of life as a whole, for life not being the way I wanted it to be and this is where forgiveness is essential for me too.
We can experience a sweeter life, I have absolute faith in this, but we begin with simple steps.
Do you feel that bitterness and resentment are a part of your own depression journey?