Mental Health Blogs

Should I Apologize for Having a Mental Illness?

I sincerely hope you have not ever considered this. But you probably have. At some point, in our journey to recovery, we have probably felt like we need to apologize for our behavior.

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?

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6 Responses to Should I Apologize for Having a Mental Illness?

  1. Barb says:

    Speaking as a spouse of one diagnosed with MDD, treatment resistent I read this with interest. Just this morning I received a text from my hubby apologizing for calling me unkind names last night when we disagreed. I didn’t know how to respond! I know he has depression – but I struggle, as does my daughter with how much right does this give him to be verbally abusive & just downright mean!? We’ve been married 30+ years and I’ve been struggling with his mean nature most of them.

  2. I feel better with myself and conflict passes much easier if you let others know its not them that you are snapping at or whatever the emotional reaction but your just a bit lost right now.

    I think it is good to take responsibility for our actions and reactions, its part of recovery. It has brought me to a point of self awareness within my illness to deal with conflict or my own self made frustration in a healthy way.

    You can apologize and not feel guilty. To me its not too much an apology than it is communication. “Hey, im sorry for how im being im just anxious, or depressed, or whatever it may be. Just be patient with me.”

    Sometimes my husband is not sure if im going through a mood or he did something to upset me. I just let him know.

  3. Hi, Samantha:
    I agree–it’s so important to be honest with those in our life. Our emotions can affect them negatively but if we express that it is our illness, it makes it easier on all involved.

    I agree completely that you can apologize and not feel guilt–we do not need to.

    I appreciate your incite and thanks for your comment.
    Natalie

  4. Hi, Barb:
    I’m sorry it’s tough on your end—mental illness often is. Depression makes it hard to express ourselves to say the least. Communication is so important and easier said than done.
    Thanks for your comment!
    Natalie

  5. Kellie Holly says:

    I have been going through another bout with Depression lately and I hurt my boyfriend most. It’s so hard to feel alone and scared, yet still have someone near me who sees my best even when I’m at my worst. The more he checked on me to see how I was doing, the angrier I became.

    I knew/know what is happening to me. I am depressed. I tried very hard to control my sadness and anger, but still, some leeched out onto him.

    It’s not fair for them, the ones I love, to want to help me and be unable to find an “in”. I do apologize, immediately whenever possible, for my foul moods. It makes me feel guilty to have to apologize so often.

    But hey – I’ve got a new medication and look forward to brighter days. What else can I do?

  6. Hi, Kellie,
    I also tend to hurt my partner most—it’s often those closest to us, isn’t it? But they often understand to a higher degree then others as they know us best.
    Thanks for the comment!
    Natalie

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