Shame is the emotion which I find the most difficult, the emotion which is most likely for me to trigger off the DSM criteria such as 'frantic efforts to avoid abandonment' and 'affective instability'.
Carl Jung wrote that 'Shame is a soul eating emotion'. This is my experience of shame. When I feel ashamed of myself, I feel as though I am being sucked into an unbearable vortex. I feel so emabarrassed of myself and I start to wonder whether I am a 'good person'.
This questioning is most probably part of the 'unstable self-image' DSM criteria. In fact, shame can very quickly cause me to feel like I am a 'bad person'. I suppose this is also 'splitting'- seeing myself as either 'completely good' or 'completely bad'.
Brene Brown is one of the most influential current thinkers on shame. I need to look into her more, but I really like her Ted Talk, On Vulnerability. Brene Brown acknowledges how hard shame can feel:
'Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.'
Brene Brown theorises that:
'If we share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive'.
I have found this to be true; a conversation about something which feels shameful, when it goes right, can be life-changing. When I have told friends about depression, eating disorders and BPD, and they have been supportive, accepting, loyal, I felt able to face life head on: I felt empowered. Brene Brown summarises that: 'Empathy is the antidote to shame'.
I hope my attempts to open up to people I trust will be met with empathy. I hope this will help with my debilitating sense of shame, as well as breaking down some of the difficulties we have as a society with talking about mental health.