Sometimes it seems as if every day there is something new to feel guilty about.
Oops, I’ve left the TV on standby; the ice caps are going to melt … No, sorry, I’m not going to set up a direct debit to your charity even if it is only for £3 a month; I’m such a bad person … Bugger, I threw that sliver of paper in the waste bin instead of the recycling box … Yes, I have eaten my five-a-day. What do you mean it’s seven-a-day now? I’m a ‘stay-at-home’ mum; I must be wasting my education. I’m soon going to be a ‘working’ mum; that means I’ll be neglecting my children. No, I didn’t manage 10,000 steps today. No, these bananas are not fairtrade. No, I haven’t grown this carrot myself in an organic raised bed that I cobbled together from reclaimed timber that was originally from a sustainable forest! No, I haven’t done the dishes. No, I haven’t cleaned the toilet. Yes, I am watching The Mentalist and mucking about on Twitter while every single person in the rest of the world is hard at work …
That’s just a little snapshot of some of the thoughts that go through my head on my less rational days.
I find guilt destructive – it’s too closely related to shame. Guilt paralyses me. Guilt makes me feel bad and lowers my self-esteem to the point where I feel I am a worthless, useless waste of space.
Yes, I need to take responsibility for my actions. Yes, I need to acknowledge my mistakes, deliberate and otherwise. Yes, I need to apologise for those mistakes and make every effort not to do again whatever it was I did that required an apology in the first place.
BUT … I also need to cut myself some slack. I’m not perfect. I do make mistakes. Sometimes I make the same mistakes over and over again. For years, I felt guilty about some of the things I thought, said and did while I had (and was recovering from) depression, and that guilt hindered my return to health. Looking back, I want to hug the woman I was and tell her that it was not her fault, that it was the illness talking, thinking and doing. ‘Just let it go, love. Move on. Don’t dwell on the past. Dump the guilt and shame. Be free.’
- Time to Change
- Mind, the Mental Health Charity
- Stress, Anxiety and Depression, NHS Choices
- YoungMinds, Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Wellbeing
An explanation of my AtoZChallenge theme can be found at Me and My Mental Health – It’s Time to Talk.
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