This week I shared a poem I wrote about ‘Guilt’ and its relation to my depression and so I decided to explore the theme a bit further. Since an early age, I grew up with a strong sense of guilt. I am the first child of my parents, in any fight with my younger siblings, my parents always said that as the eldest, I had to be the most reasonable. And whenever my father upset me and I went to my mum for sympathy, she would always tell me to try and understand his point of view because he had a terrible childhood and a hard life. In every situation I was put on, the responsibility was mine; not only for my own actions but also for others – those younger than me as well as those older than me.
The worst thing I that I grew up oblivious of this exaggerated feeling of guilt, and the truth is that I always felt responsible for anything bad that would happen to me and to those around me. And this feeling contributed to the strong sense of worthlessness and the low self-esteem I experienced most of my life. I didn’t like me because I failed in everything and let everyone down, but at one thing I excelled brilliantly – at faking it. I was the best at pretending to be self-confident and happy with myself. Looking back, I don’t even know how I did it. I lived that lie for almost forty years of my life and only when I was in therapy for depression did I learn that when my parents induced that sense of guilt in me as a little girl, they were abusing me. I never look at myself as a victim of parental abuse, because I didn’t know any different, but I was. They abused my innocence when they should have taught me self-love and unconditional love. A few years ago I would have thought this statement to be a bit tragic and exaggerated but now I know better, only because I have hit rock bottom, being in so much emotional pain that I believed my life was over. Yes, there were moments when my depression was so dark, that I believed I would never be able to go back to employment and to be independent ever again – and to be honest, I couldn’t care less.
But thank God for Private Medical Insurance, CBT, group therapy and the few brave individuals who have shared their experiences with me and made me gradually believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am also hugely lucky to have a group of friends and family who have supported me and been so patient with me helping me to be hopeful and keep going. I have forgiven my parents because despite not liking the way they made me feel I love them and I know they didn’t mean any bad, they simply did what they knew best. They also did good things to me and loved me the best they could.
I will revisit this issue again, I’m sure of that as there are so much more to guilt in the story of myself, there is also the guilt of not being well and being a burden to others, but that is a whole new post. I remember during therapy being very surprised with the role guilt played in my mental health – who would have thought? If you would like to find out more, follow the links below: