With Depression, Know Your Limits

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI spent this morning looking for a beautiful quote I read about a month ago, something along the lines of what motivational speaker John Bradshaw said: “I define a ‘good person’ as somebody who is fully conscious of their own limitations. They know their strengths, but they also know their ‘shadow’ – they know their weaknesses.”

However, when I Googled quotes about limitations, I came across more than a hundred quotes like this one from Darwin P. Kinsley: “You have powers you never dreamed of. You can do things you never thought you could do. There are no limitations in what you can do except the limitations of your mind.”

Right.

They all had very inspirational backdrops—waves, sunsets, runners–and I wanted to wave my hands in the air and say, “Yeah, you know it!”

Except that I don’t. And I think all the messages of this world telling me that I can do anything I dream of – like working 80 hours a week while training for an Ironman and being an attentive wife and mother– are, well, not true.

In fact, the one mistake I keep on making over and over again in my recovery from depression is not accepting my own limitations as a person with a serious mood disorder.

A very clear pattern has emerged over the last ten years.

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4 thoughts on “With Depression, Know Your Limits

  1. Therese – I feel like you wrote this article just for me. I feel that way about so many of your posts. I suffered a major relapse 3 years ago and am still battling with extremely dark moods. Over the last year or so, I have been attempting to accept and define my limits. I, too, absolutely hate those inspirational sayings. For someone like me, it translates into “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and then I can lead a “normal” life. I so appreciate the quotes that you offered. Those inspire me rather than discourage me.Thank you for always being so insightful, honest and courageous!

  2. Oh, how I needed to hear this. The bottom line for me is that I care too much what people think of me. Especially those folks who go non stop every day and look blankly at me when I say no to their request. Explaining that I am a highly sensitive person sounds so lame and weak that I never say it. I look at my calendar and know that if I say yes to Monday and Wednesday then I must keep Tuesday free to rest up. I must also add here that I am 76 years old and have been on this spiritual journey all my life it seems. Life for me is very rich filled with a patient husband of 55 years, three daughters who love your work and understand. Also, 6 grandchildren who are all seekers. Sooooo hang in there as you help so many with every post. I appreciate so much the lessons I have learned from teachers such as you. Christopher Reeves once told his wife that only once in a while does he want to return to his previous shallow life. Michael Lanning ( named for my Dad) Sent from my iPad I love Richard Rohr’s work. He has taught me to swap the judge in me for my advocate who lives in my heart. >

  3. Absolutely brilliant post. I think this is one of the keys to managing mental health symptoms. It has taken me 45 years to learn this. I am so much better at respecting my limitations but I do feel some shame that I can’t go at the speed of the world or contribute the same way others do. I need a significant amount of “down” time to decompress and rest my brain after my high stimuli work environment (acute care hospital). I now have learned to limit social obligations, limit what I plan for the weekend, etc. I do the same thing as Michael in the previous comment–if I have an event one day, I know I need to leave another day empty to recover. I place a high priority on getting enough sleep. I don’t entertain as much as my husband would like and if I do, I make sure to get help. My weekend activities could just be getting a good exercise session, taking time to prepare healthy food for that day and the week, and doing simple household chores. Thanks so much for this post. I look forward to any other comments.

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