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I Can't Stop Insulting Myself

July 13, 2022 Natasha Tracy

I can't stop insulting myself. I'm depressed, and that's one of the things that I do when I'm depressed. The insults I say at myself are unbelievably harsh and things I would never say to anyone else. But even though I know that it's the depression, and even though I know that it's negative and harmful, I just can't stop insulting myself.

People Insulting Themselves Is Normal

While people often don't realize it, insulting yourself is actually pretty normal. It happens more with people with certain characteristics, such as low self-esteem, but more than that, everyone does it from time to time. 

For example, have you ever made a mistake, maybe in front of someone you really respect, and said to yourself, "I can't believe I said that. I'm so stupid."?

Or have you maybe gotten turned down for two dates in one week and thought to yourself, "I'm so ugly."?

Of course, you could have been in either situation and not insulted yourself, but if you were having a down day or maybe you were feeling a bit sensitive, those might be ways you reacted.

I Insult Myself to Beat Myself Up

You might insult yourself for many reasons. You might be depressed and be feeling very negative. You might have low self-esteem and actually believe the insults you're slinging. You might be around people who insult you, so insults feel normal (of course, this is verbal abuse). Or you could have a series of other reasons; many things lead to insulting oneself.

I insult myself as part of beating myself up. I think beating yourself up is a larger cycle and consists of many insults, some for no reason, some for a perceived reason. To beat yourself up is to insult yourself over and over.

And more than just insulting myself, I allow the insults I say to myself to lead to negative conclusions. For example, 

  • "You are such a dumb b___h, no wonder no one likes you."
  • "That mistake proves you're a f__k-up. You don't deserve to live."
  • "just go die, you stupid, fat, unlovable sloth."

(I just want to clarify that while my brain keeps telling me to die, I'm not actually suicidal. If you're suicidal, please reach out for help from one of these resources and hotlines.)

Does that seem to sound harsh? Well, that's kind of the point. The voice of depression in your head -- the voice that continually insults you -- is a very harsh mistress, indeed.

Watch this video for more on how I insult myself and what I try to do about it.

Insulting Myself Affects Everything -- Here's How to Help

Basically, if you see me looking unhappy, if you see me having a hard time engaging, if you see me being quiet and unsure, it could be because I'm insulting myself to a high degree. Those kinds of insults, to that kind of degree, affect a person on every level.

If you want to help someone with depression who tends to be down on themselves, try this:

  • Challenge their negative assumptions about themselves out loud. Use logic to disprove them.
  • Remind the depressed person that they would never speak to another person that way; they shouldn't speak to themselves that way either.
  • Give them deserved compliments. Trust me; they could use them.

I know it can be exhausting dealing with someone else's depression, and I know it can be repetitive hearing them insult themselves over and over and trying to challenge that, but we do appreciate a voice of reason, even if we can't say so at the moment.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2022, July 13). I Can't Stop Insulting Myself, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, October 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2022/7/i-cant-stop-insulting-myself



Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

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