One of the most prevalent emotions that tears you up inside when you have depression is guilt.
Guilt about being sad. Guilt about letting people down. Guilt about not being good enough and guilt about always relying on others to help you get through the day.
I’ve had to rely on others for money, transport and food as well as emotional support especially in social situations where I feel very vulnerable. Not being able to go out to meet people without a chaperone is a pretty shitty feeling let me tell you. But I believe there’s no good reason why you should have to apologise for your mental illness. Here’s why…
It’s not your fault
You probably think apologising for your behaviour is the right thing to do. You’ve not been yourself, ignoring people and been a bit of a recluse in fear of upsetting anyone with your unpredictable mood swings.
It’s easy to think that people don’t want to see when you’re like that, but rest assured that it’s your mental illness talking and not the truth. When mental illness takes hold it’s so overpowering that you can’t control it. If it was a choice wouldn’t we all just shake it off and get on with life? Of course we would.
Your friends and family might not think you’re a bundle of fun when you’re going through a bad spell with your mental health, but they still love you anyway. Apologising and talking yourself down all the time is honestly just a waste of energy at this point. Energy that you need to conserve and use for more positive tasks. As much as possible, you should try and remember that your situation is not a direct result of any actions you’ve taken.
It’s more inconvenient for you than anyone else
Have you ever felt that you’ve let someone else down as a result of your mental illness? Me too.
I started a new job and on my second day I burst into tears on the way there and screamed that I couldn’t go in. It was the easiest job in the world with the friendliest people I’ve ever worked with but I just couldn’t handle it. I made my mum go in and tell them that I wouldn’t be in that day and I didn’t go back.
I later had it confirmed by a health professional that I was indeed unfit for work, but at the time I felt like a total failure and a time-waster. I’d left someone to work on their own in a situation that would’ve been incredibly stressful, but me being there in floods of tears unable to cope with my existence wouldn’t have helped the situation.
Why do you think your happiness is less important that someone else’s? If you let someone down and they’re mentally stable then they can go on with their day regardless. You, on the other hand are unable to do something because you’re unwell. You’re not fit to do some tasks at the moment and whilst that might be inconvenient for someone else for a few minutes, you’re dealing with the painful inconvenience of having a mental illness every single day. You come first.
Making other people uncomfortable or making things slightly awkward once in a while is something others will just have to deal with whilst you work hard to recover. Trust me, they can handle it.
It’s OK to be selfish
One of the reasons I got myself in a mess was because I was trying to please too many people too many times. I was scared to say no to anyone because to be honest, I didn’t realise I could. One of the best things you can do for your happiness is practise saying no more often.
I’m not talking about avoiding things that make you happy, but being confident enough to know when you’ve taken on too much. Don’t do something just to make someone else happy when you know that it’s causing you pain or making your anxious. Be honest with people. When someone is asking you do do something they’re asking you because there is more than one possible answer; make sure you choose the one that serves you.
The day I started being selfish with my time was the day I started to truly realise what I was capable of doing without putting my health at risk.
Are you going to stop apologising for your mental illness?
I have never apologised for my mental illness, but when I felt my worst, underneath to myself I was feeling sorry.
I genuinely look forward to your posts! Your ability to effectively take exactly what I or someone else is feeling, is incredibly. You’re right, nobody should apologise for their mental illness, it even sounds ridiculous to think you should have to; but the guilt is a big thing, especially when you’re forced to rely on people. I’m constantly in a state of guilt for all that my boyfriend has to do for me, especially if there’s the odd time he turns to me and says he’s irritated or frustrated by what I’ve got – he’s only human and he never means to be harsh. Thank you for writing this ^^ you constantly remind me I’m not alone 🙂 x
Wow you’re so kind! I still struggle with guilt a lot of the time. Writing it out just reminds me that I need to stop. My husband takes such good care of me when I’m low, but he says I’d do the same for him! Xx
Amen Fiona! I am with you ? This is the message I share unconditionally with my clients and students. Inspired post! Thank you! ??
Glad to hear it!
I love this post because it makes me feel that I am not alone in feeling what I am feeling. Thank you for being so open.
You are so very welcome! It’s amazing how when we start opening up about mental illness we find that other people feel the same way. I get so many messages from people who feel alone and it shouldn’t be that way! Xxx
Thank you for being open about this, No doubt your readers will find your post helpful.
I hope you found it helpful x
What an inspirational and refreshing post. I still forget this sometimes. It’s good to be reminded. 🙂
I’m so glad you found it helpful, I need reminding myself sometimes!
The title of this post drew me in and I just had to read it. I found you on Pinterest, and I’m very glad I did!
I absolutely agree that you should never feel guilty for having a mental illness. It is no different from having a physical illness and shouldn’t have the stigma that is attached to it in this society we live in. Especially in the 21st century for goodness sake. Great message! I had to subscribe.
I’m glad you agree! I still struggle with feelings of guilt regularly so this post is a reminder to myself as well as others. Thank you so much for reading and subscribing!
I think that is a universal feeling, hence why reminders like yours are so crucial. And you’re welcome, a pleasure!