I’ve said this before, but something that I feel a lot of people do not understand about depressed people is that there is an enormous amount of guilt.
The idea that seems most prevalent is that people with depression are selfish or self-serving. They only care about themselves. When they start drowning in addiction, drugs and alcohol, we only see people concerned with their own feelings. They don’t care about how much they’re hurting the people around them. They don’t care that their excesses and vices are destroying everyone around them.
Can I make a clarification?
We feel extremely guilty. We feel guilty because we know we’re hurting you. We feel guilty because we wish we could snap out of it. We’re ashamed because we can’t even control our own bodies. We wonder if we’re doing something wrong.
We feel guilty because we want to die. We want all the pain to stop, but we know we’d be hurting those close to us. We feel guilty for having to leave those loved ones behind, the grief that they’d feel and the pain that we’d cause. We feel guilty because we know we’re using these temporary substitutes to dull a pain that won’t go away and we know that’s hurting our loved ones. But we can’t stop turning to it because it just hurts too much. We feel guilty because we lose our tempers when people try to intervene… and because we know they’re right. We feel guilty because we’re too scared to admit that we’re only making it worse.
We feel guilty because we know we’re messing up our lives and yet we lack the motivation or drive to fix it. Not because we don’t want to. We just can’t. We feel guilty because if we had that drive to do anything, the first thing we’d probably do is kill ourselves, not get better. We feel guilty because at this age, with these many years to mess up, we’re honestly afraid to get better because then we have to deal with the however many years of a mess we’ve made. Really, how do you fix a 27-year-old mess? It’s scary. We know it can only get better, but it’s so scary to look at.
Sometimes, it’s that guilt that drives us to that desperate final act. The emotional pain from our heads and the emotional pain from our hearts just become too much to bear.
Are we selfish? Is it selfish for us to want to stop that pain? If you knew the desperation in my body, would you think I was selfish for keeping myself alive this long? Or would you tell me that it’s okay to let go, that you understand? Is it selfish of you to want me to stay alive, to keep me close and to try to convince me about the value of my life?
I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that one. I wish I did. It wouldn’t make things any easier, but at least I’d understand better.
But one thing is certain –
We do feel guilty. We feel so guilty for hurting you. We feel so guilty for having these thoughts, for being unable to control our emotions. We feel guilty that every cut, every desperate act hurts you, too. We feel so guilty whenever you stand there, wanting to help but being unable to help.
And we’re sorry. We’re sorry that we make you feel helpless. We don’t mean for our pain to become your burden. We’re sorry.