This month I’ve only posted twice. I’ve been playing around for how often to post and when, to see what it does to views. With every 4 days posting, NOBODY reads! So, I’m going to try once again to post daily/every other day (sorry for those that will see constant reminders!). When I inevitably wake up at 2AM every morning, I’ll go down and write instead of laying down and mindlessly looking at other people’s lives. There is really no point. My goal during all this intensity is to be productive. Looking at other people’s happiness does absolutely nothing to my productivity, nor my own mental health. I feel guilty for coming downstairs in the middle of the night to write as well. Connor cannot sleep without me beside him and so me being gone will wake him up. I feel guilty infecting another person with my inability to sleep for only 3-4 hours at a time. So I give myself grief for coming down and spending the few hours alone in my solitary self-reflection.
Feeling guilty about writing at night is what brings me to what I want to talk about. Guilt. It is absolutely pervasive in my mind. Guilt is a lot of why I feel so negatively towards myself and what I do. I practice so much mental self-flagellation for about anything and everything I do. I didn’t do the dishes soon enough? *whip* Didn’t have a trauma growing up during a trauma class, but am still messed up? *whip* Laundry piling up? *whip* Said what I believe is an awkward thing to a friend? *whip* Thinking about going on disability to fully heal both my back and my brain? *whip* This type of thinking is absolutely no fun and is what I think may be my most destructive brain pattern. Why do I feel guilty about feeling guilty right in this moment?
Guilt in very small doses can be a good thing (so I hear). It causes you to be sure to do kind things for others, like remembering to send a present for a birthday or call your mother/friends/siblings etc. on special occasions. This type of guilt can be NOT self-destructive. It’s when you over use guilt that makes it so damaging. I don’t know why the guilt dial can be turned to 11, but I wish I did. I only realized that my guilt lever was fully on today when I was in therapy group. We were talking about trauma and the physical responses with the nervous systems as well as symptoms of trauma that persist throughout life. Because I HAVE no trauma that I know of, I felt guilty for even being in group. Why do I deserve to have this amazing opportunity to be in this intensive outpatient therapy group, when I haven’t and don’t go through what the other wonderful people that are there do? I don’t have childhood abuse; my family life was great growing up. Why am I so depressed? I am not abused now either. I sat in group and practically disassociated and went somewhere else as an unintentional coping mechanism. I couldn’t handle my guilt for lack of trauma. How in the hell does THAT make any sense at all? I feel guilty for NOT having a life destructing trauma? What the hell?
I’ve heard that these types of self-flagellations are a phenomenon called the “Dobby effect” named after the house elf in one of my favorite book series ever written, Harry Potter. Dobby will self-harm any time he goes against his owners or says something that is negative or forbidden about them, at least until he’s freed by Harry. The Dobby Effect causes guilty feeling people to ward off the guilt by self-punishment. I use this effect in spades. I don’t know why, but I do. It makes me avoid persons and situations in which I’ve felt guilty, as well as isolate myself, feel guilty about that and then over-work myself at the house which will cause a crash later. I have recently crashed in the last two weeks or so, which I feel guilty about as well. I was doing so well at being good and productive and positive about things. I’m now back down in the depression pit, although not as deeply as I normally do (thanks bipolar meds!).
Because it’s what I do, I researched ways to work through guilt and found a good article on psychologytoday.com. I love this website. I do everything from research to finding a psychiatrist here. I’ll link below for those curious. I think I need to print out these suggestions on post-it’s and put them around my house for me to see, along with my “you are enough” magnet on my fridge. The headers for each suggestion are as follows:
- Tell yourself that you have done the best you could
- Consider that at the time, you didn’t know what you do now.
- Remember that you’re not to blame for surviving a tragedy
- Think that to blame yourself for a mistake that was beyond your control may not characterize your behavior
- Tell yourself that you may have adopted too rigorous of standards for yourself (!)
- Acknowledge your right to protect your self-interests
- Recognize that you can stand up for yourself and your rights
- Remind yourself that there’s nothing wrong for pushing for your own goals
- Stop the inner dialogue that is negative
Admittedly, these are not exactly easy things to do, but at least it’s somewhere to go and something to reach for. I’m going to work on putting these suggestions into my daily life, and practicing them. Maybe this will help my flagellation problem. Man, for such a negative word, I really like the word “flagellation.” Oh look, squirrel!