Feeling Guilt after the Diagnosis of Mental Illness
Is impossible to escape—initially.
For example, if you have had a serious episode of depression and have recently become well–after months of searching for The Right Medication and hard work—memories of when you were ill probably haunt you.That is human and sometimes being human just plain hurts. And it hurts more if you feel you have hurt others along the way.
When you’re feeling low you might isolate yourself; those you love probably try to step in, tell you that they care and you push them away. I did. That is the nature of depression and the blackness that defines it.
Depression can make a person mean! I can throw out expletives like the best of them when I’m feeling rough. And then, once recovered, I feel guilty. I remember the words I said to those I love and I remember the look on their face. The sadness.
Feeling guilty hurts. Struggling with a mental illness hurts even more.
Reconciling with those you Love
You probably apologize. Well, I did. I hung my head sort of low, averted eye contact or made sure to stare intently into their eyes.
“I’m sorry. I was not myself.” I sort of feel like I am kissing their ass a bit but that’s the sarcastic part of me, the part that would rather move along, without words of reconciliation. But it can be necessary.
The reaction? “It’s okay Natalie, we understand.” And they mean these words because they love me. And I love them too and all that Hallmark jazz.
When I was going to 12-step meetings I was told to “take inventory of people you hurt.” I fought my way out of it. And then I did it. A list. A list of people I may have hurt before I became stable and well.
I talked to them all and my words were received with kindness because as much as I felt guilt, I would stand beside them if life got tough on their end.
Putting the Guilt Aside and Getting on With Life
So, now you, we, have said some kind words. We are coming to terms with our illness. Hopefully, we are coming to a place of relative peace and acceptance.
Should you apologize? I’m not really sure. Ask yourself. I view it less as an apology as part of recovery. And that’s the goal, becoming stable and, in turn, having healthy relationships.
What do you think: How should we approach the situation?