Not Your Fault; Your Responsibility

“Having depression isn’t your fault, but it’s your responsibility to attack the beast from every angle, with as much power as you can muster.”

Thus began my weekly therapy session. For a while, I didn’t understand the difference between fault and responsibility. Actually, it wasn’t until yesterday that I was able to differentiate between the two.

Fault: A weakness or failing; an error for which a person is culpable; a guilty party.

Responsibility: The opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization; the state of being accountable for something.

After confiding in my therapist that I still struggle with passive suicidal ideation (more on that in this post) she drew up a chart for me on the 4 stages of suicidal ideation. Mild: Most people deal with this at some point, it’s more of a “this situation really sucks and I wish I were not here, dealing with it.” Passive: These thoughts are more intense, like wanting to be gone or just disappear. It’s more along the lines of, “If I were to not wake up tomorrow, that’d be ok.” Intent: This is when there is a desire and intent to commit suicide at some point, but nothing is in place yet. Finally, Plan: As the name suggests, this is when there is a plan in place for committing suicide.

We talked about how once you’ve entered one stage of suicidal ideation, it becomes easier and easier to slip into the next stage. So, while these initial thoughts are due to biology and brain chemistry, and no fault of my own or of the people in my life who are so supportive and understanding, it’s my personal responsibility to keep myself from sliding from one level to the next. Then we came up with a plan of attack.

Yes, meds will hopefully even out the brain chemistry part of things, but there’s so much that can be done while we work to find the right combination. First and foremost, choosing to believe the truth. I’m currently reading a book that explains how we can actually re-wire our brains and grow dendrites (the nerves that branch out from cells that fire messages from one cell to the next) to make better connections and access the parts of our brains the control motivation and mood. In other words, I have more control than I think when it comes to these intrusive thoughts. I do have the power to replace lies with truth, and eventually, the automatic thought will be grounded in reality and truth rather than fear and anxiety.

Second, choosing to lean into the community and support I know I have but often forget about. Yes, this means being vulnerable and letting people into the scary thoughts I have sometimes, but ultimately it opens the door for healing as well. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7. I’ve found that the idea of exposing the fears, sins, anxiety, etc., is much worse than actually letting the light into those dark places. When I actually open up about my struggles, I’m always met with grace. Sometimes it takes a while for the other person to understand, but always, always I’ve been encouraged, uplifted, and loved.

So. Here’s to exposing the darkness to light and taking responsibility for our mental health!