Guilt. It’s a powerful emotion that can often stop us in our tracks. Guilt has a lot to do with self-reflection, making it incredibly paralyzing at times. We have to first analyze ourselves to analyze our guilt, which can mean looking deep into the good, the bad, and the ugly. Things we’ve repressed will resurface, sometimes in the most aggressive ways.
So what happens when our guilt is linked directly to our mental illness? I have a lot of guilt surrounding my Bipolar disorder. Consistently going from tumultuous highs to devastating lows can bring a tremendous sense of uncertainty, making it hard to enjoy everyday life.
The times where I’m up, I can’t help but linger on the fact that this feeling is only temporary. This uncertainty then seeps into my personal life, making it hard for me to function day to day without immense feelings of anxiety. Unfortunately, that anxiety turns to irritability, and my loved ones end up being at the forefront of my snippy nature.
And while I’ve put in the work necessary to gain back some of that control, I still find my guilt overtaking me. I cannot help but feel as if I am not doing enough. That feeling translates into me thinking that I am doing nothing but hurting those around me. Any slip-up, any ounce of irritability, even when justified, is met with an immense feeling of guilt.
Your mental illness can often feel like a weight, holding you and those around you down. You can end up feeling inadequate, broken. And while I can logically comprehend that is not the case, I still find myself drifting into that sea of uncertainty.
My family, friends, and boyfriend would be better off if I could get it together. The panic attacks, the mood swings, the depression, it’s holding them all back. And even when they reassure you that isn’t the case, guilt rears its ugly head. It shoves you deep into a hole with no way of digging yourself out.
So how do we break that cycle? How do we get out of the never-ending loop that is guilt? I genuinely believe guilt related to having a mental illness stems from our own insecurities. So to me, developing a sense of security and power is the key.
The first step in removing that guilt is building up your sense of self-worth. Understanding you are a person, and therefore, you are worthy of good is incredibly important. You are not your mental illness. Your mental illness is something you have. Stop saying, “I am depressed” or “I am bipolar.”Too often, we identify ourselves with our mental illness, forgetting there’s so much more to us.
Hi, my name is Katelyn, and I have Bipolar Disorder. But that is not who I am. I am a writer, a good friend, trustworthy, loyal, and I love unconditionally. Those are the traits that make me who I AM as a person.
My Bipolar is only a small part of me; it does not define my entire being. This sense of security gives you your power back. It enables you to acknowledge, process, and move on from all those parts of yourself you may not love. Regaining that power can help silence those intense feelings of guilt.
Of course, anything I write on this blog will be easier said than done, and this idea of regaining your security, your power is something I am still working on. But the more you work on it, the harder you train that muscle, the easier it’ll become to shut down your guilt.
Always remember, you are more than your mental illness.