Anyone who suffers from mental illness has likely experienced some guilt at one time or another. But, it is so important not to let the guilt consume you, or it will become a perpetual cycle of feeling ill-feeling guilty-feeling more ill.
Currently, I am experiencing this cycle, despite my knowledge of the importance of self-compassion and acceptance. I have an extremely difficult time accepting that I suffer from, at times debilitating, anxiety, panic and depression. I set extremely high standards for myself and feel inadequate when I can’t reach them.
Recently, I turned down a full time permanent position with the school board and instead accepted a .5 permanent position. Here’s what went through my brain as I did so:
- I HAVE to accept the full time position. I need money. I need stability.
- But…when will I go to my therapist and doctor? When will I fit in self-care for my worsening mental health? When will I have time to re-evaluate my medication?
- If I tell anyone I turned down a full time position they’ll think I’m lazy, crazy and inadequate.
- I won’t have stability if my mental health continues to worsen.
- I’ll take the .5 position.
So, as you can see, my thoughts were primarily driven by guilt. I was so concerned on what I felt like I HAD to do, what is socially acceptable and respected. Despite the work being done to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness, it is still so prominent. I’d say, some of the hardest work I have to do is to accept that I am ill, any may always be.. Accept that medication is part of my life, and I may have to up doses or try new medications completely before finding the right one.
At the end of the day, I feel confident that I made the right choice to work part time (and part time on a casual basis). I just need to think positively about my choice and try to remind myself that the guilt comes from what I believe is acceptable, not what is ACTUALLY acceptable.