Anxiety is not a reason to feel guilty.

When you’re going through a lot sometimes the smallest of things can make a huge difference, and I am going through a lot right now. My period of extreme physical ill-health rolls ever onward. But on top of that, as I mentioned in my last post, my past has finally caught up with me. I find myself struggling each and every day with immense anxiety, fear, and both flashbacks and panic-attacks triggered by the most random of things. You know, things like a guy whistling in a certain way, the smell of a certain brand of cigarettes, and the sight of a Ford frikkin Granada.

Now I’m a pretty smart cookie, even if I still don’t understand how time-zones work, but I keep finding myself falling in to the most insidious of traps laid by emotional health-issues, guilt. Of course being born, and bred in Ireland at the tail end of the rule of Catholicism over the Irish gave me a really excellent head-start in turning feeling guilt in to an art-form.  I can feel guilty over, well just about anything.

Watched a movie? Guilty because I didn’t walk the dogs instead, never mind that they’ve been walked already.

Lay awake all last night because my stomach hurt too much to sleep? Guilt because I slept late in the morning, or guilt over being a zombie for the day.

Guilt is silly, random, and not healthy. I mean don’t get me wrong, if you murder someone you better be experiencing feelings of guilt. But feeling guilty over not sleeping, or for kissing someone, or for enjoying a few hours of a computer game? Yeah that’s not only dumb, it’s just not healthy.

But when you’re physically or emotionally at the end of your tether, it’s all too easy to plunge in to truly unhealthy guilt. Guilt for not being 100%. Guilt for being a burden. Guilt for being bad company. For being grouchy. For not being the partner they deserve. For needing to be helped.

Yesterday morning I needed my Partner in Crime to wash my hair for me. It was one of the best feelings I’ve had in weeks. Sensual, and loving, and gentle, and just…wonderful. She did it for me because she knows I HATE washing my hair over the bath, and because she knew I’d spent the entire night awake, on the toilet. I just couldn’t do it for myself. And all day I felt utterly wracked with guilt because it was her doing it for me, not me for her. Because I needed to be helped, when I’m supposed to be the one…well anyway last night a friend posted this on her Facebook wall…

guilt

I’m not depressed, though Goddesses know I would be entitled to feel that way at this stage. I’m also not schizophrenic, I mean I’m pretty sure I’m not. But I sure as Hell am anxious, and that image is right. I shouldn’t feel guilt over anything I’ve done, I’ve done nothing wrong. I shouldn’t feel guilt over anything I’ve felt. And I shouldn’t feel guilty for needing help.

The simple truth is I’ve been too strong for my own good for far too long, and now when my body is at the lowest ebb it’s ever seen the emotional damage a childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood inflicted on me has finally caught up. And that’s nothing to feel guilty about either. The guilt won’t vanish overnight. Like the scars my heart carries, it will take time to find the causes, and root them out. But even recognising that I feel this way, and that I don’t need to, is a large step in the right direction.

And that’s the key to getting better. Taking each small step, one by one on the road to getting back to being me.

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