Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: Worthlessness Based Depression

“You are not worthless. Even if you’ve been called that your entire life.”

Kevin Walker

Living with a narcissist is like being on a never-ending movie set. You are always the star of the show, and your performance is never good enough. One minute you are the golden child, as in you receive tons of praise for everything you do. The next, you are the scapegoat where everything is your fault. You must always be on your best behavior, no exceptions. When guests come over, you must be the perfect and greet or welcome them. You must always be entertaining and charming, even if you are exhausted or feeling down. Ever had your parents have you perform party tricks like mental math or whatever talent you’ve been working on? Maybe juggling or some other hobby you wanted to wait until you perfected it?

You never get a break from the performance. Even when you are alone, you are still aware of the narcissist’s expectations. You are always worried about making a mistake or saying the wrong thing. Whenever, you do succeed at something, they take the credit and congratulate themselves for your hard work. They may even go as far as to claim they were responsible for them all along. “He’s so good at what I taught him.” Even if all they contributed to your development was unhelpful abuse that actually set you back. You could never say you succeeded despite that abuse because that would make them look bad. To me, this is one of the root causes of having worthlessness-based depression.

Have you ever had an overwhelming feeling of being tired of life and that everything is falling apart or ready to fall part any moment? It’s ok to feel like that. However, it doesn’t feel good. Feeling worthless can make you think you aren’t deserving of success or love. It can happen when you’ve had a narcissistic parent who only gave you attention when you did well in school or impressed someone else so they can take credit. You’ve tied your self worth to your performance and now that you don’t want to perform, you’ve lost any identity of what your self worth is. Not to mention narcissistic parents often force you to conform to societies ideals of success. Get in a relationship, get a degree, have a lot of money, etc.

It can be hard to function in daily life when you think you aren’t good enough to do anything. It can manifest as the inability to peruse your goals when you feel that none of your efforts will make a difference. These feelings can arise due to things such as low self-esteem, neglect, abuse and trauma.

The Anatomy of Worthlessness: What does it Mean to Feel Worthless?

Worthlessness is a feeling of lacking any importance or meaning. It derives from the parent word worthless, which means to lack value. Everyone has both potential value and actual value. Potential value would be any innate talents that you’re born with and can develop, while actual value is the skills you already possess. If you mentally block yourself from seeing either your potential and/or your actual value, feelings of worthlessness can develop.

For example, people who are unable to see their potential value will simply assume that they have none and thus can’t develop any. This is the most common manifestation of worthlessness in those of low socioeconomic status. People of high socioeconomic status aren’t safe either, and many celebrities and polymaths can feel worthless when assuming they “haven’t done enough”. Or they aren’t as valuable as someone they look up to. In all cases, the blockage is the inability to see their own worth, not the actual lack of any worth.

Why am I Feeling Worthless? The Root Causes of Worthlessness Based Depression

Within every narcissistic household is constant and unrelenting criticism. Every time you want to try a new hobby, all you hear is the constant jokes about your ineptitude. Whenever you get better, the bar just keeps getting higher. It’s a constant chase that never ends, just to hear one compliment. Whenever you have an opinion that isn’t mainstream, constant attacks until you give up and say it’s stupid. The cynicism doesn’t end until you admit that they were right. If you manage to outlast their attacks they’ll just get angry and emotionally blackmail you to change your opinion anyway. It’s an unwinnable situation.

There is also the matter of the constant blame game. You are blamed whenever something goes wrong in the household even if you weren’t even in the area at the time of the event. Even when it’s possible that it was a completely random phenomenon. Or maybe it was because the narcissist themselves did it, forgot, and needed someone to blame. They left the television on at night and didn’t remember it? It must have been you trying to watch the news channel at midnight. Everything is always your fault. Is it any wonder why you begin to assume you can’t do anything right? It’s a terrible cycle of blame and shame to break.

Narcissistic “Humor”

All parents make jokes at their kids expenses. However, narcissists take it to an entirely new level by knowingly making jokes they know their kids are insecure about. Such as narc mothers who will make fun of their daughters stretch marks by pretending to vomit after pregnancy. Or who will make fun of their children’s hobbies and laugh every time they fail or make a mistake. If their children manage to succeed, they will just raise the bar higher and make fun of them for not reaching it.

Worthlessness Recovery Methods: How to Stop Feeling Worthless and Depressed

Mindful Self-Awareness

Sometimes we feel worthless in response to certain triggers. Those triggers can be situations, thoughts, experiences, or even people. When you feel particularly worthless, try to take notice around your environment. This can also help put yourself in the present moment and distract you from ruminating on past feelings of inadequacy.

Use Mental Transmutations

On your mental health journey you may have heard of positive affirmations. They are positive statements that you repeat when you have a negative thought. The energy of the positive thought should counter the energy of the negative thought. They are great for getting you in the right mood, but we all know that you also need action. That’s what a transmutation is, you use a positive affirmation to give you the energy, then you test the statement to prove it to yourself. For example, “I am strong and get stronger every day.” Then, you do 10 push-ups. This is more helpful than simply saying a blanket statement you are unsure of.

Using a Gratitude Journal

I completely understand if you don’t want to feel grateful. Calling you ungrateful is actually one of the narcissist’s favorite tools of attack. You may be in a situation where you are the subject of abuse or feel stuck and can’t get out. It’s hard to be grateful if you are homeless and the government who is supposed to help refuses to. It’s hard to be grateful if you’re a teen with narcissistic parents and everybody just wants to mind their business because you aren’t their child. It’s hard to be grateful when it seems like you try to do everything right and something comes to push you back down.

But if you can just be grateful for the fact that you managed to survive in one of the hardest times in human history. If you can just be grateful for the fact that despite all the pain you’ve been through, you’ve made it through another day. If you can just be grateful for the small moments of happiness you have experienced in life and focus on them, I promise you it will make a world of difference. When you are grateful for the smallest things, the biggest ones will seem euphoric. It can always get worse, trust me.

Complete an Act of Selfless Charity

This may be asking for a lot but it can help. When you have the energy try to complete an act of selfless charity. That means you just do it without considering any type of reward for it. No praise, no attention, no reward. Just pure self-motivated autonomy. When we are at our lowest points, it can help us to pull ourselves up by just focusing on helping anything else. Whether that is volunteering at a soup kitchen for the needy. Or just dropping the last few dollars we were going to spend on something just to take the pain away for a few seconds in a homeless cup. Just go in and do it, without any expectations or regrets.

Moving Forward: You are Never Worthless

As long as you have the ability to share love, you can never be worthless. Every action you take to be kind or creative to empower yourself or others is valuable. Everyone will battle with worthlessness from time to time, some more than others. If the recovery methods above are not enough for you to make progress, please seek a professional. Psychotherapy and/or medications can help you feel better and more aware of yourself. Just live, do your best, and spread love.

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