responsiblity not guilt

I’ve often commented on this blog about how we are at least sometimes responsible for our depression. I woke up in the middle of the night and realized how that might come across to people. Especially when they’re in the throes of a depressive episode. When I say responsibility, I don’t mean we should feel guilty.

It’s so easy to point the finger in so many outward directions that we never look inward. And yes, I will be the first to admit there are outside forces at work.  Our health, our relationships, our finances, stress; they all can contribute to a depressive episode. So when I say we should look inside ourselves as well, it’s never to condemn ourselves or to feel guilty that we are depressed.

I felt guilty about my depression for years. That made it even worse.

Even now, I’m likely to feel guilty when I even have a “down” day because I know that I don’t have any logical reason to be down. But then if feelings were logical, we could talk ourselves out of it. Right?

(It’s  not my intent to pile on guilt. I  believe we have many resources within ourselves to get better. (I’m talking to myself here as much as to you.)  And just so you know, I practice what I preach.)

I can take life way too seriously at times. I know I have wallowed in self-pity at times accompanied by a candy bar. I’ve sat there in my self-inflicted mess, and wallowed in what I felt was unfairness.

But that didn’t do me a lick of good. So each day, i got up, got dressed, put on my best “face” and forced myself to do the things I know are good for me. I didn’t feel like it. But I also didn’t feel like making my mood worse.

As long as we refuse to force ourselves to do what we know is good for us, and remember it IS is a choice, we will not move towards health.

It’s one of the hardest things to do, to get moving when you’re feeling bad. But it has to be done.

We have to move towards something or we simply won’t move at all. Not moving is a prescription for disaster.

So don’t feel guilty because I suggest, as do a majority of professionals in the field of mental health, that there are ways you can help yourself.  Too often depression makes us feel a helpless victim.

We are not helpless.

We are not victims.

There’s a lot on this blog to help you. I hope you’ll read it. I didn’t manage my depression for years by sitting on my backside. I won’t conquer this one that way either.

5 replies »

  1. It’s such a terribly fine line to draw, between taking personal responsibility for actions which will help your mental health, and assigning blame upon those who suffer depression. I hear what you are saying here, but still believe we need to show compassion for those who are so deeply depressed that they literally cannot help themselves.
    During one of my hospitalizations, I remember hearing a visitor talk to a young woman – obviously a relative – on the sofa outside my room. The older woman was telling the younger woman what she needed to do to “help herself”. It took a lot of self control for me not to go out and explain to the older woman that her words were doing more harm than good: I knew what her relative was going through, and knew she couldn’t – as in DID NOT HAVE THE CAPACITY TO – do what was being suggested. The younger woman just sat there, with tears rolling down her cheeks, silent under a barrage of ‘suggestions’ which were actually … I don’t know: statements which were making the older woman feel better about herself, that she was “helping”?
    It’s dangerous territory, and it must be navigated with sensitivity and care. Personally, I’d err on the side of caution.