Does Depression Make you Feel Like a Loser?

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How many of us feel like a loser because we have depression? What does it mean to feel this way? Is feeling like a loser part of the stigma of being labeled as depressed or is it something more? In this post we are going to explore the many facets of feeling like a loser and what it means for you.

The term "loser" has been extremely popularized in our culture. The TV show Glee, for example, makes loserdom the main focal point of the show. The highly talented cast plays high school students who get mercilessly picked on for being part of a glee club as well as for their individual idiosyncrasies. The icon for this show is the loser sign of an "L" to the forehead. Another popular TV show which showcases characters who are considered losers is The Big Bang Theory. Four socially awkward scientists take geekiness and nerdom to a whole new level. The show humanizes and embraces people with disorders such as Social Anxiety Disorder and Asperger's Syndrome.

In addition to TV and film, music is another venue where being a loser is a central theme. If you don't believe me, just take a look at all the songs with "loser in the title or in the lyrics.

If you read any of the lyrics to such songs you will find some loser mantras to live by. For example, Glee's Loser Like Me makes it not such a bad thing to be deemed a "loser", because as the song lyrics imply, a lot of successful people start off as what some consider to be losers.

Yeah, you may think that I'm a zero

But, hey, everyone you wanna be
Probably started off like me
You may say that I'm a freakshow (I don't care)
But, hey, give me just a little time
I bet you're gonna change your mind

All of the dirt you've been throwin' my way
It ain't so hard to take, that's right
'Cause I know one day you'll be screamin' my name
And I'll just look away, that's right

Why are these shows and songs so popular? I think it is because so many people can relate to being a loser. I dare say that all of us have felt like a loser at one point or another in our life.

There was a really interesting comment to one of my posts asking people if they were an optimist, pessimist, or depressive realist. One of our members wrote in to share an experience she had in her cognitive behavioral therapy class:

"Once, I went to a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy class, and the teacher was standing at the front of the class, saying, "Whenever you start to think that you are a loser, you just have to tell yourself that you are not a loser" And I thought to myself, "Are you telling me that nobody in this room is a loser?" Because it is obvious that some people actually ARE losers, no matter what the CBT teacher says. It is quite unrealistic to say that NO ONE is a loser.

I had to smile at this because I tend to agree with the commenter. Positive affirmations aren't going to cut it for the person who is being bullied or excluded because of their differences. It also implies that there is something wrong or bad about being a loser and that we have to psyche ourselves out of it. When we say "loser" don't we truly mean that we are different in some way from others? Is this such a bad thing?

Depression is something that can make us feel like a loser. We may make comparisons to other people that we aren't gliding through life with ease. We may hate on ourselves for not living up to some expectation that we are not positive and perky all the time. We may feel that we are letting the people in our life down because we can't seem to get our act together. This self blame perpetuates a vicious cycle of poor self esteem leading to more depression. This is where feeling like a loser is harmful because you are equating a label with your self-worth.

The reason why labels hurt whether we give them to ourselves or someone else has bestowed them upon us, is because of comparisons. When we get into comparing our lot to others then we get into a funk. There is always someone we perceive as more successful, prettier, more handsome, smarter, slimmer, more popular, and more together than we are. I say, so what. These people aren't living our life, we are.

Instead of trite positive affirmations I like to get down and dirty with the truth. I AM a loser. I have lost in life. I have failed. I don't always win. If I am at rock bottom on any given day so be it. There is nowhere to go but up. This is my starting point, right now. All the comparisons in the world are not going to help me get up and reach my potential. All comparisons do is distract me from pursuing my goals. I refuse to hate myself because I am different from others and have unique challenges.

Take away the negative connotations from the term "loser" so that it doesn't have the power to make you suffer. Embrace it instead. Take a look at these talent reality shows such as American Idol. You know why the "losers" who come in second or third aren't sweating it? It is because they quite often have more success after the show is over than the first place winners. In every race, contest, or challenge, there will be losers. We can't win all the time nor should we. Losing is part of the human experience for all of us. Some of the most profound growth and learning is born from failure. A wonderful quote from the character of Alfred Pennyworth in the movie Batman, reminds us why this is so:

"Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up.

I am going to leave you with one last quote from Albert Einstein who was considered a "loser" in his youth as he didn't speak until the age of four and didn't read until the age of seven. Einstein gives guidance as to what is really important when he said:

"Strive not to be success, but rather to be of value."

For all the people out there who feel like a loser, you are not alone. Everyone has felt this way at one time or another. Depression can make it worse. I suggest taking the sting out of the label of loser, and embrace it instead. You are unique. You are different. But you needn't suffer for it. Stop comparing yourself to others and defining your self-worth through a label. If you are a loser, so what. There are worse things one could be.

We would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Have you ever considered yourself to be a loser? What does this term mean for you? Do you think it is a harmful label? Or do you feel that being a loser is no big deal? Share your story. It just may help someone else here.

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