And Guilt Strikes Again

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/03/31/overcoming-guilt-in-depression/

Over the weekend I came across this article at PsychCentral about the guilt that people with depression feel.  It is a good article and points out five practical things to do in order to deal with the guilt that comes with depression.

Unfortunately, the article says nothing about those who have to live with someone who is depressed.  What about the guilt they feel?  With my husband dealing with a flare up of depression once again, I find myself feeling guilty when I am short with him, or fail to listen fully to what he is saying.  Guilt nags at me as I try to remind myself that I can only do so much and that I am not responsible for the illness.  Still the guilt comes.

And as a result of the guilt, the pity pot beckons:  Poor me.  Why can’t I have someone I love who doesn’t have depression?  When can I get my needs filled?  I’m missing out on life.  No one understands what I have to go through. And then I’m even worse when it comes to dealing with my depressed friend.  A vicious, vicious cycle.

So I looked carefully today at the 5 suggested ways of dealing with guilt for depressed people and I found – surprise, surprise – they would work for caregivers who live with someone who is depressed.

  • Exercise.  A no brainer.  Getting outside to weed in the garden, going for a walk, jumping jacks in my office.
  • Shift the thoughts.  I’m there for him.  I help in whatever way I can.  I can make him laugh. I’m surrounded by good things.  The way I choose to think makes a difference.
  • Remind yourself that guilty thoughts are not facts.  When I wish I were someplace else, or with someone else, it doesn’t mean that I would choose that and abandon my loved one.  Guilt has a way of messing with fact.
  • Humor.  A good laugh goes a long way.  When I make a funny face, or adopt a crazy voice, I can make him smile and forget his sadness if only for a brief time.  And I can make myself forget and remember that it is the disease that causes the sadness, not the man I love.
  • And visualization.  It’s something that I use to put up that sign in my brain that says, “This too will pass” or the picture of me and my husband laughing together and playing with our grandchildren.  Or the big life-sized picture of him, well and whole and happy.

Yes, the five suggestions will work for those of us who feel frustrated, who feel guilty, who feel that going on just one more minute is impossible.  The five suggestions are really life lessons whenever we need to rise above the guilt and into the land of hope and good surprises.

-Bernadette

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