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Depression and identity link - can anyone help?

L

Lesfleurs

Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2021
Messages
7
Location
UK
Hi there, I have been struggling with chronic depression for over 30 years and feel very isolated by this experience. BUT I THINK THIS IS ALL LINKED TO PROBLEMS WITH MY IDENTITY (OR PERHAPS RATHER MY LACK OF IT). I have been convinced about this identity and depression link for a long time and kind of ‘knew’ this was the problem even very esrly on in therapy during the 1990s.
My background is that I am male and come from a highly dysfunctional family background. My elder brother is a very severe narcisisist and beat me, verbally abused me, humiliated and and controlled me from as early as I can remember. I was literally beaten up every day, starting from when I was pre-school age. It was so bad that I ‘zoned out’ or dissociated during the beatings so much that now I have no specific memories of the beatings at all - only the fact that they happened. My parents were neglectful and just let him do it. They never even tried to stop him.
The perverse and awful outcome of all this was (and I feel very bad admitting this) that I hero worshipped my brother and tried to emulate everything he did. I believe this is called Stockholm Syndrome and applies when another person has literally life or death control over you. I copied him and became his main source of narcissistic supply up until around the age of 28 when my therapist encouraged me to stand up to him and go ‘no contact’.
All this was totally necessary but I am now dealing with the issue of never having properly formed my own identity. Being myself was not an option when I was little as you were punished for it. The only thing that was rewarded was praising, copying and reassuring this vile bully (4 and a half years older than me). Therefore I ‘created’ a personality for myself by simply copying and placating others. There was no scope at all to responding to my own wants and needs (I didn’t know what they were anyway).
Through a lot of therapy I do feel that I have now separated from and got rid of this ‘false self‘ that I created but I feel I have very little ‘real‘ identity or personality underneath. I am still good at ‘fronting up’ with people in public situations such as my job etc but underneath I feel I amount to almost nothing.
I would LOVE to hear from anyone with similar experiences or who might be able to shed some light on this link between lack of identity and depression.
Thanks for reading and also to the forum for welcoming me as a member.
All best,
Lesfleurs
 
calypso

calypso

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Hello and welcome to the forum. I do understand. My father would hit us as children and my older brother identified with him a lot. He would also lash out at me and my younger brother to copy him. to this day he won't hear a negative word about our father.

But he did change as he got older and for instance took up fishing which my father hated and developed other interests and stopped being a bully. Its different from you I know and not as severe. But are there interests that are just yours? Why did you choose the work you do? Look at differences in behaviour from your brother that way perhaps. Its a starting block and not an answer I know.
 
L

Lesfleurs

Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2021
Messages
7
Location
UK
Hi Calypso,
thank you for your post and for sharing your own experiences. I also think your advice to look at the differences between myself and my brother and at some of my own personal choices makes a lot of sense. It’s just hard work ‘stitching this all together‘ into something that you can call an identity. Still you are definitely right to suggest some of the groundwork is in place so thank you for this.
Lesfleurs
 
MollyBloom

MollyBloom

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Jun 18, 2021
Messages
188
Location
The Capital of Europe
Your journey has been remarkable. Finding you own identity will be another journey because a quick fix do not exist but daily meditation has helped me a lot and also DBT to understand my own emotions. You will form your own identity by staying in the here and now.
 
L

Lesfleurs

Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2021
Messages
7
Location
UK
Hi MollyBloom, thank you for your very generous and helpful reply. I am sure you are spot about discovering your identity in the ’here and now.’ I am just very adept at ducking present reality. I will certainly follow up your suggestions on meditation and DBT (which I have never tried).
 
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