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Mental illness sometimes manifests itself in the most self-destructive ways possible. At the end of the day, when you’re done raging and cursing the world for the pain it has caused you, it’s natural to act inwards. Unfortunately, self-blame is the weapon with which depression and anxiety can take over your life. In my experience, the most beneficial coping mechanism was born from my therapist’s repetitive pleading, “The first step in dealing with the pain, is to stop blaming yourself.”

A few months ago, I finally began to ruminate on those words. I realized that “fault” does not directly imply “blame.” While you are responsible for not getting out of bed in time to go to class, you don’t need to be blamed for it. When your mental health is affecting your life in umpteen ways, why be the target of more negativity?

Of course, I don’t mean to say that you are exempt from taking responsibility for your actions. When you acknowledge your mistake, but move on, you are giving yourself an opportunity to learn from that experience. You can do it much better, next time. And that allows you to detach yourself from a forlorn past and look towards a brighter future.

Last year, when I couldn’t solve a homework question on a problem set, I would become disgusted with myself. I allowed the shame to accumulate until I believed that I would never receive a decent grade. I imagined others belittling me, so I couldn’t ask for help. I failed so many assignments, but only because I never found the courage to submit them.

Eliminating the self-blame from my life has allowed me to stop perpetuating a vicious cycle of remorse and self-loathing. It gave me the power to defeat my brain’s favorite cognitive distortions: labeling myself as a “loser,” and over-generalization of one event as personal defeat. Yes, I still feel that twinge of guilt every time I convince myself that, rather than go out with friends; I’ll stay at home and binge on chocolate. I remind myself that I am human, mark my regret, and store it aside for future reference.

More often than not, when the situation wants to repeat itself, I remember that regret, and I know what to do to avoid it. I know that I am stronger than I have been in the past — strong enough to overcome depression, the anxiety, and my fears.



  • Emmett Shaw

    What happens if you can’t seem to stop the depression from coming because your mind, when not happy, is filled with depressing thoughts? Most the time I am Happy, but tonight I just really want to cry. Maybe I just have to focus on the positive? But the negative thoughts always seem to creep into my mind and I can’t seem to push them away. Posted on 2/23/16 at 8:48 PM

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    • You Matter

      Emmett, Thank you for reaching out to us. Feel free to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) yourself so that you can find out what resources are available in your area. Your call is routed to the Lifeline center closest to your area code. The local crisis center may have resources such as counseling or in-patient treatment centers that your member can take advantage of. Your life matters!

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    • You Matter

      Emmett, We’re so sorry for all the struggles you are going through and we want to help. If life ever feels like it’s not worth living, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK. The call is free and confidential, and crisis workers are there 24/7 to assist you.

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  • Eve Sinclair

    I never felt like the abuse I suffered as a child was my fault. I was full of shame because of it though. Everyone could see how poor we were. They could see how we were abused. No one stepped up to help. I blamed them almost as much as I blamed my parents and the other people who hurt me. I also felt shame from a crazy, irrational fear that someone could look at me and see that I had been molested. I never had friends because we moved a lot. I’m almost 49 and I am so isolated that I only leave my house to go to the doctor. I rarely even go outside. I think of suicide several times a day, but I’m afraid to die. I cry a lot. I have four children, ages 18-34 and a grandson. I worry about the pain I’d cause them if I did kill myself. I have no motivation; I’ve given up on life. I don’t care about anything. But then I don’t really feel that way. I’ve always been an open, funny, empathetic, protective person. My children’s friends always loved coming to our house. My self-blame comes from allowing what’s been done to me to end my life the way it has. For almost three years, I’ve been locked away. I’ve watched good people die. People that loved life, lived life. All the while I’ve sat in my bed, staring at the wall, wishing I was never born. Actually getting angry that I was ever born. I’ve always been angry that I was born. I feel like a failure because I am a failure. I’ve given up. I don’t know how to live. The abuse happened 35 years ago but it began as soon as i was born. I don’t know how I grew up as kind and loving as I did. People like to give advice and tell you it will get better but words don’t really help. People caring enough to give you their time; that’s what helps. Without others, what can you do? I’ve never said these things aloud. As weak as I am, I try to hide it. But since I don’t know you, I just want to say something; just once. I’m so lonely. I just want someone to really care about me; enough to see that I need someone and be willing to invest the time. I feel invisible. Thanks for all you do to help.

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    • You Matter

      Eve, Thank you for reaching out to us – please keep in mind our blog is not intended for crisis intervention or support services however the Lifeline counselors are here for you any time day or night at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Please give us a call! We are here to help!

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