I Won't Apologize for Having Depression
For the last 20 plus years, I’ve been in the grips of major depressive disorder. Sometimes, my episodes are minor with only a mopey empty mood lasting a few weeks or a couple of months. Sometimes they are moderate with tears thrown in, sobs for no reason at all and lack of motivation to do anything. And then at times, they are major episodes where my anxiety comes into play, I experience self-loathing, psychotic breaks and in some cases, hospitalizations. And for the last 20 plus years, I have been apologizing for it all.
I apologize for everything. Most of the time it is nonchalantly, not even realizing I said anything until I’ve completed my plea. Then I gasp internally, Did I really say “I’m sorry” again?!
When my mood is low and depression has made itself quite comfy on a sofa in my head, my apologies usually start with my husband:
“I’m sorry I am like this again.”
“I’m sorry you have such a horrible person as a wife.”
“I’m sorry I can’t be happy.”
And now that my daughter is older,= — almost 11 — I will apologize next to her:
“I’m sorry you have such a horrible mommy.”
“I’m sorry I don’t want to play a game with you.”
“I’m sorry you are stuck with me.”
As my depressive funk continues, apologies will show up at work for a minor error on a drawing or for not remembering a small fact on a project.
I’ll apologize to friends for being “weird” or “sad.” I’ll apologize to my parents for putting them through this yet again.
With every apology, I sink deeper into self-sabotage. I tell myself I suck and nobody wants to be around me. I begin to hate myself and, at times, wonder why I am still alive. I ponder self-harm because I think I deserve the pain.
This is a vicious cycle that has only recently changed.
With over two decades worth of apologizing because of my depression and feeling hatred against myself, I have finally learned there is no need to say “I’m sorry” all the time. Therapy has taught me that. I will never know why it took me so long in therapy to feel this way — call it getting older, maybe — but I no longer feel the need to apologize for everything I think I am doing wrong, whether it be a mistake at work or some thought in my mind.
What helped with this epiphany was the birth of forgiveness, compassion and empathy for myself that I got with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. I realize I am worthy to be here, worthy of existence, worthy of love. I remember the loyalty and love I give to others and remind myself I should give the same to myself.
There are still days when I find myself excessively apologizing and days I will catch myself before I utter those words, “I’m sorry.” Some days it is harder to hold back the apologies, but I will. I will stop saying “I’m sorry” for something I do not have any control over like other disorders. I am not ashamed of who I am. I am a person, like any other human being and I make mistakes. But being diagnosed with depression isn’t a mistake requiring atonement.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.
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Thinkstock photo via MistakeAnn.