When Depression Makes You Feel Guilty for Liking Yourself


Most days are not filled with (any measure) of self-confidence for me. Most people probably don’t wake up in the morning and start their day thinking, “I am so totally awesome and I love myself.” But what happens if for once you do wake up feeling even remotely good about yourself? If you’re anything like me, that nagging sense of arrogance sets in and suddenly you find you feel terribly guilty about that smidgen of personal pride that dared to show up.

Self-hatred comes quite naturally to me. Whether it’s my impossibly frizzy hair, stubbornly bubbly butt or embarrassingly long list of mental health problems — I can always find something to hate about myself. Loud, sarcastic, flat-iron addicted, compulsive giggler. I have zero fashion sense, and even less fashion interest. I actually laugh out loud in the middle of a dead quiet room because I remember a funny voicemail I got two months ago. I trip and fall without actually picking up my feet, in flat shoes, on flat ground, sober. I eat five bags of “fun size” skittles because fun size doesn’t add up in my world. And I scream obscenities at the television during sporting events because I know they can hear me.

Despite it all, I do on occasion get this fleeting sense of “Maybe, I’m not so bad.” Immediately followed by bone-crushing guilt for having the audacity to think such a thing. But why? In part it is a knee jerk reaction — a mortal fear of being perceived as even slightly arrogant. It’s also uncomfortable to have confidence, because I’m just not use to it. But more than anything, it’s the insidious nature of depression and the way it can deprive you of any positive feelings you manage to conjure up. Depression tells me I am worthless, foolish and certainly not deserving of any hint of pride or confidence in myself.

Depression lies — a lot. But it can be hard, if not impossible, to separate the lies depression tells me, from the lies I tell myself. Which one of us thinks my butt is too big — me or my depression? And are we just one entity now? Do I even have my own thoughts anymore? Sometimes I’m not so sure, but more and more I’m starting to think the quiet little voice of compassion that occasionally tries to tell me I’m not the worst person in the world, is actually me. It’s the me that has been drowned out by decades of depression — the me I sometimes forget ever existed. The me I have a hard time believing could possibly still be in there somewhere. It’s the voice of reason, and maybe, of truth.

Guilt can be a strangely comforting emotion. It reminds us as long as we feel guilty, chances are we can safely assume we are not being arrogant and self-righteous. Guilt can give us a sense of peace, knowing if we beat ourselves up enough, no one else will need to bother to beat us up, too. But guilt can drown you in waves of pain that seem almost inescapable. Guilt can convince you, truly convince you, that you don’t deserve to live. Guilt can destroy hope and happiness, and take away so much from your life without you ever actually doing anything deserving of such feelings.

It’s OK to lack confidence. But it’s OK to have it too. It is not a fine line between “self-confident” and “self-righteous” — it’s a huge chasm. You don’t have to tiptoe along, afraid you might come across like a cocky jerk if you so much as think you are having a good hair day. Confidence has a big playground to work with — and chances are you may never have gotten anywhere near the upper limit of how much you should have. We admire people who walk into a room secure in themselves — and yet we often despise that very same thing when we feel it ourselves. That’s because depression lies, and tells us we are bad people, we think bad thoughts, we do bad things. But it’s not true.

So the next time I think to myself, Maybe I’m kinda sorta not the worst person in the whole world, I am going to try very hard to hold on to that feeling for more than a few seconds. Because in the end, depression will always lie to me — but it’s up to me if I’m going to believe the lies or not.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via AnkDesign.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Depression

unhappy woman in orange dress sitting on stone bench

How to Know If You Have 'Perfectly Hidden Depression'

I’ve been writing for three years now about a syndrome called perfectly hidden depression (PHD). These are people who are inwardly struggling with depression — at times severe depression — but others would never guess they were. They can act both intentionally, but also unconsciously, to deny and avoid pain or suffering. And they do it quite [...]

Why You Shouldn't Laugh When I Say I Love Harry Styles

Let’s face it, everybody who knows me knows I’m “obsessed” with Harry Styles. It’s easy to listen to me ramble on about how much I love him and get annoyed.  But let me just tell you, there are some things you don’t know that you should. Ever since late 2010, I’ve loved, admired and supported [...]
Fantasy portrait of a youg Ancient Roman goddes Venus, whos tears, accoring to a legend, turned into red poppies.

4 Ways You Can Help Me When I'm in a Depressive Episode

I can feel it creeping up on me again. I can sense its huge form behind me, feel its breath on my back and shoulders, rising up to my neck. I can hear it whisper in a rasping voice, “It’s my turn now.” I drop. I sink in to myself, sink in to my own [...]
girl standing in woods with back to camera and tattoo on her back saying "this too shall pass"

13 Reasons Why I Chose To Live, and Why You Should Too

I’ve felt it too. The unbearable pain and perpetual numbness all at once. The lingering sadness. The inescapable despair. Depression is a merciless overhead cloud. The blackness engulfs you, blocking out any glimpses of light and hope. It stays with you, never letting you forget the dark thoughts occupying your mind. There was a time [...]