Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Guilt: My Confirmation Name

posted by Beyond Blue

Thank you to reader Peg, who, in addition to her remark about Recovery, Inc., posted the following comment:

“As a cradle Catholic and one who was raised in a girls’ Catholic boarding school for 10 years (from ’49 to ’59), I am often confronted by members of my family who accuse me of being full of guilt. I know there is good guilt (as in if we steal something, we should feel guilty), but how do you draw the line when depression is also a factor?”

What an excellent question, to which I absolutely don’t know the answer. This is something I struggle with each and every day. Because guilt is a humongous contributor to depression, even though it can be a good thing at times (think purification of the soul).

I should have chosen “Guilt” as my confirmation name: Therese Lynn Guilt Johnson (my maiden name) because my therapist was blown away by my ability to feel guilty about absolutely everything. Out of all her patients in her 25-plus years of counseling, I won the guilt prize!

My first thought? Oh no, did I take the guilt prize away from someone else? I don’t really deserve the guilt prize–she gave it to me in sympathy. I should have worked harder for it. What about the starving children in Ethiopia who don’t get guilt prizes? I should send them mine. Why didn’t I think of that sooner? How inconsiderate of me.

I hear Jewish guilt is almost as bad as Catholic. But I think the fish-frying, saint-loving folks see the world through a guilt lens that is hard to appreciate if you haven’t been yelled at by strict, unapologetic, and very judgmental (but also very loving) nuns.

For example, right now as I write this, I’m feeling guilty about a host of things. Like…

I should have picked up the house this afternoon because it’s completely trashed which could send Eric into therapy; I haven’t yet called back Tracy to find out why she had to take her son to the ER last night; I forgot to collect the neighbors’ newspapers and mail the last few days, so if they get robbed (three newspapers in the driveway is an invitation inside), it’s my fault; I haven’t signed up Katherine for ballet or David for karate; I haven’t followed up with a therapist for David to sort out his anxiety issues; I ate three Twix bars tonight; I drank four cups of coffee today; I haven’t had sex with Eric in three nights, which means he probably has blue balls; I should look forward to making love, not view it as a chore to check off the to-do list; I haven’t taken my mother-in-law out to lunch in three weeks–that was supposed to be my charity so that I don’t have to feel guilty about not volunteering at the homeless shelter; I need to do more about Iraq’s civil war, Afghanistan’s destitution, and global poverty in general; I shouldn’t have told the 65-year-old nurse helping me with my MRI today that she looked EXACTLY like the 85-year-old wife of my running partner; I haven’t washed out my dog’s ear like I’m supposed to (and the dogs don’t get enough attention); I’m contributing to global warming by using toilet paper (I should air dry like they do in India), making coffee, taking a shower, driving to the doctor, using my HappyLite, going to the gym, and every other activity I do in my day; Katherine should be potty-trained by now, and she shouldn’t be using a pacifier; Katherine and David will both need pacifiers and cases of vodka as soon as they realize their parents’ generation and the selfish folks before them were responsible for destroying the planet; I let the kids eat too many gummies today; I should have opted for the organic chicken (free of hormones) so that Katherine doesn’t get boobs before her First Communion (the Catechism stipulates against bras for second-graders); David and Katherine watched four hours of TV today (schools were closed and I had deadlines); David is watching too much Star Wars–he is infatuated with the dark side; Katherine watches too many Barbie movies–I think she already has an eating disorder; I shouldn’t be so candid in my writing because once the kids learn to read they will hate me; I cuss too much; I worry too much; I feel guilty too much.

That’s a modest sampling of my happy little thoughts.

My therapist suspected my acute case of self-bashing was caused by the deadly combination of three things: a strong, traditional Catholic faith; a propensity for obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behavior (extreme rumination); and the bad kind of perfectionism.

She told me to imagine myself as a car driving along the highway. When I get one of those guilty thoughts, my car is out of alignment. So I pull over. I assess the problem–check to see if I need to make any adjustments (if I stole something, I should give it back; if I wronged someone, I need to make amends). Then I have to get back on the highway. Each time my car wants to rear off the main drive, I should ask myself, Is there something I need to do? If not, I need to get back on the road.

I was obsessing about one sin in particular for over a year. I did everything I could to correct the situation, but I still felt horrible.

“You need to keep saying to yourself, ‘Look, I made a mistake, and I’ve rectified it as best I can. I have learned from it, and I’ll do better next time. Now it’s time to move on.’ And do your very best to do just that: move on.”

At one point the ruminations were so bad that I wore a rubber band around my wrist. Every time I got caught in a destructive guilt cycle, I’d snap the rubber band as a signal to tell my brain to move on, that I’ve done everything I can. And I need to get my Catholic car (with a St. Christopher medal on the dashboard and rosary beads hanging from the rearview mirror) back on the road to Mass, where I can sit in confession.



  • http://HASH(0xd1a8840) Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    This Catholic guilt thing is a crock–promoted mostly by anti-Catholic bigots and their dupes. My father’s family is Catholic and there is no more happy a lot than them. My mother’s family is Protestant in all the right liberal no-guilt even if you slaughter babies denominations–and depression runs up and down their family tree. But clinical depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain–doctors even can name the chemicals–or shortages of–that cause the depression. If there is any cultural-religious cause to simple “guilt” it is Europe North-Protestant vs. Europe South- Catholic–and unfortunately American Catholics ape the Northern Europe “depression” syndrome. Catholics in America should learn to fiesta the way Spanish, Polish, Italian Catholics celebrate life and their faith instead of the dour style of the North. I think it was Hillaire Belloc- the English, strongly Catholic writer who wrote something like that where there is good wine, good food, happy children, and joie d’vivre, there you will find Catholicism.

  • http://HASH(0xd1a977c) Donna

    Great, now the reader named Peg can add her thoughts on religion to her guilt list. What I took from her recent post in the Depression Blog “Guilt: My Confirmation Name” was the concept that Oprah applies to her life to this day. “When I knew better, I did better.”

  • http://HASH(0xd1aaac4) Peg

    Therese, thanks for your thoughts on my question re guilt and depression. Right now I can’t think of anything I could add except perhaps that those of us who may have mental health disorders really latch on bigtime to even a little guilt feeling and blow it way out of proportion whereas others don’t over react and do more balanced thinking. I really like the Deacon’s post and would like to believe it.

  • http://(Idon'tknowwhatURLis) Jane B

    MY my my! What a serendipity finding this conversation. I am a psychiatic nurse practitioner, looooooong time diagnosed depression, catholic, and child of rather disfunctional parents. It’s been a long road……but one I wouldn’t trade. If it’s any encouragement, I have found that the most painful experiences have yielded the most beneficial results – but slowly over time. One thing I might remark on – depression isn’t always just depression. Bipolar disorder comes in many different presentations, and needs different medications to help the depressive cycle. Be sure you go to a thorough and well educated practitioner so that you don’t have to suffer through the usual 10 years it commonly takes to diagnose Bipolar Disorder. The most valuable gift of life is wisdom – and we all get it, sooner or later. Sunshine and blessing – jane b

  • http://HASH(0xd1abfb0) Peg

    So, bipolar disorder is not the same as depression? I am assuming they can cross over into each other. The TV show The View on Friday used their entire hour on depression and classified depression into three parts, dysthymia, major depression, and bipolar. I only watched a small portion of it. Did anyone else watch it? There were some members of academia schools in the audience who spoke and one gal talked about the latest mild shock treatments for extreme cases which are way different from the “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next” version. Peg

  • http://HASH(0xd1ac2b0) Iris Alantiel

    How strange – I’m also a Johnson (maiden name), also a Lynn (well, Lindsay), and my confirmation name was Theresa. Probably should’ve also been guilt, but I was a little saner then. On the other hand, I did (and still do) feel sorry for frowny-faces as in emoticons or cartoons. Surely there must be something I can do to make them happy! I’m trying to work on it. If I burden my kids (when I have them) with my guilt, I know I’ll feel more guilty – and it’ll be trickier to sidestep than the irrational kind. This article was really helpful, and it reflected one of my recent discoveries that helped me break the cycles of depression. It used to be that I’d get depressed, come out of the depression, feel guilty for having been depressed, and go right back in. To some, it may sound like a self-explanatory concept, but for me, it was a revelation to discover that I could let go of today and just try to do better tomorrow.

  • http://taliamana.blogspot.com Talia Mana, Centre for Emotion

    clinical depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain–doctors even can name the chemicals–or shortages of–that cause the depression. To quote the Deacon – what a load of crock. The idea that clinical depression is a chemical imbalance is one promoted by the pharmaceutical companies with a vested interest in encouraging people to believe the problem is chemical and therefore the solution is chemical.In reality depression is far more complex than that. Depression results from any number of factors, of which a chemical balance is only one. The other factors include stress, trauma, poor coping skills, genetic influences, brain wiring, familial influences, physiological health factors including vitamin deficiencies, sleep problems and life circumstances. To lay the blame at the door of chemical imbalance is a narrow and incorrect view of depression. No one has been able to scientifically quantify the causes of depression. For some people it may be 100% physiological (e.g. hormones) but for others it may be 100% psychosocial.

  • http://HASH(0xd1a79a0) Doubtful Certainty

    Deacon John: All those fiesting Catholics in South American are coming up to uptight Protestant America to find jobs. I guess those fiestas aren’t enough to keep ‘em down there.

  • http://www.sonafide.com D

    My mother’s family is Protestant in all the right liberal no-guilt even if you slaughter babies denominations–and depression runs up and down their family tree. Why is the clergy always full of such vicious people?

  • http://HASH(0xd1a5760) HASH(0xd1a56b8)

    And why, if Catholic guilt is such a crock, is it mostly Catholics who talk about it?

  • http://taliamana.blogspot.com Talia Mana, Centre for Emotion

    LOL good point anonymous. I only have to listen to my Catholic friends (especially the ones who were schooled by nuns) to know that they have a lot of issues with guilt and, dare I say it, sex.

  • http://HASH(0xd1ade6c) Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Just a few comments: As far as Catholics talking about their guilt problem as a “Catholic” thing. Look at the column we are commenting on. Who convinced the writer that one of her problems was “Catholic” guilt?? Her therapist. And many therapists have a philosophy that blames all sorts of perceived personal problems on religion–that is why so-called “Jewish” guilt is also so “popular.” This seems to be a constant refrain among some therapists where a unique, minority (practicing Catholics are only 10% of the U.S. population) religion is involved.)Second, Who is more vicious??A clergyman who speaks the truth about the evil of popping a baby’s head like a zit as it is being born and evinces disgust at phony Christian religions in his own family that endorse such?? Or clergy who claim to be Christian, but are among the biggest endorsers of our ever-expanding “culture of death.” Third–Much Evangelical Protestant Christianity growing in South America is joyful and upbeat (very charismatic) like Southern Catholicism and unlike dour Northern Protestantism which is the mainstream norm in the U.S. Fourth: Agreeed there are many causes of clinical depression-guilt-anxiety in various levels in different people. But the biological causes must be very high–as opposed to psychological-familial-religious since ECT (Electric-shock therapy) has been found to work so well in 80% of the most severe cases. One person I know who had ECT is completely and happily different and she says she feels thoroughly cured since ECT.No more dark clouds-so far– invading and oppressing her. Doctors say that somehow the ECT releases huge doses of the chemicals that drugs like Cymbalta (see ad with this column) release to relieve the depression. Much of all the above is why I take total exception to this crock that puts one’s Catholic heritage front and center when one has some guilt-anxiety hang-ups or is battling depression.

  • http://HASH(0xd1af184) Babs

    I am in my late fifties and a product of Catholic education through 12th grade. I teach in a Catholic school, as well. Can someone explain to me what exactly is “Catholic guilt?” I have suffered major depression since I was a mere babe. It was the love of the nuns and feeling accepted in my home church that has kept me on my feet and not in a car wrapped around a cement abutment. I’ve often wondered why some Catholics seem so quick to talk about Catholic guilt, because I think that it usually has so little to do with morality.

  • http://taliamana.blogspot.com Talia Mana, Centre for Emotion

    Although ECT is effective for people with severe depression who have not responded to medications the proportion of people with severe depression is very low.From the website http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/bv.fcgi?rid=hstat4.section.1417 ECT is not effective for patients with milder depressions, i.e., dysthymic disorder (neurotic depression) and adjustment disorder with depressed mood. People with severe depression that is resistant to treatment may have problems on a biochemical level or they may have other brain functioning problems. For example, brain damaged individuals may experience severe depression. However your ordinary garden variety depression is an entirely different animal. It does not respond to ECT because it is more frequently caused by psychosocial issues and distorted thinking.Suggesting that knowing a particular cure works, does not prove the origin of the illness. I can give you a perfect example: consider the recovery rate of individuals who choose to join a faith. I have worked with a large number of people who have recovered from a range of mental illness including schizophrenia, depression and bipolar through the support of their community and their faith in a higher being.Many of these individuals have done this without the aid of medications. Following your line of reasoning … If people can be cured by believing in a higher power, than the lack of belief in a higher power must be the cause of the mental illness. The reality is that depression is a complex issue. There is no way to quantify the exact cause however most researchers believe that physiological influences (of which biochemical is only one influence) are only part of the equation.

  • http://taliamana.blogspot.com Talia Mana, Centre for Emotion

    I agree that Catholic guilt is a stereotype, and that believing it to be true perpetuates the stereotype. However most stereotypes arise because they are true for large numbers of people. So it’s one of those chicken and egg things, and it certainly won’t be true of everyone Good blog post Therese – you’ve got everyone thinking!

  • http://www.lighttherapycompany.com Kevin Keough

    Well Therese, seems to struck a raw nerve on the guilt-depression connection–lots of posts.Existential and Catholic psychologists distinguish between two types of guilt. ‘Ontological’ guilt aka ‘existential’ guilt comes over us when we have knowingly committed a sin of omission or comission. ‘Genuine’-’you oughta feel guilty is a sign of a healthy conscience requiring atonement and making amends, etc. “Neurotic” guilt represents an ‘unhealthy’ or ‘maladaptive’emotional response to some imagined sin. Neurotic guilt can be experienced to be as real and painful as ‘ontological guilt’. There is a lot of it around. Women seem particularly predisposed to feel ‘neurotic’ guilt. The dynamics of neurotic guilt can be quite complex. Some people feel lots of neurotic guilt as a way to prove to themselves and others how ‘holy’ they are; “Well, all this guilt at least proves I am a good person….”. The flip side of neurotic guilt is almost always some form of resentment. Never, have I asked someone who complained of feeling guilty, to consider the possibility they feel angry or resentful about whatever situation or person….without them having a ‘revelation’ that they were, in fact’ secretly pissed and resentful. People like to induce guilt in others and to inflict all sorts of pain. Jesus gave us one of the most practical tips for living when he instructed us: ” Be ye therefore as wise as serpents and innocent as doves”. Personally, I don’t think we get any ‘points’ for feeling neurotic guilt. Actually, one could argue that it is a waste of time, that it is selfish (we are self-absorbed when ‘doing guilt’). Neurotic guilt could even qualify as a sin. The usefulness of this way of looking at it is it opens the door-psychologically and spiritually- to letting go of neurotic guilt so our time can be put to better use. So, maybe, it’s worth asking ourselves what/who we might be resenting when we feel guilty….as a step to sweeping away useless/wasted time that could be spent loving ourselves, loving others, having fun (one of the greatest ways of glorifying God is to enjoy life) or whatever. I logged lots of neurotic guilt time. I don’t much anymore. I spend far more time working on forgiveness…..often because of resentment I feel about somebody trying to get me to feel guilty or people who have deliberately intended to hurt me….and seem incapable of experiencing ‘ontological guilt”.I am for a mass movement to make neurotic guilt ‘uncool’……….

  • http://HASH(0xd1b2c4c) bluemerlegirl

    Interesting…especiallly as I have struggled with guilt and a sense of unease all day. A close relationship I was in has abruptly ended, I am not at all sure why. When I asked the other party, they assure me nothing is “wrong.” Yet, we are no longer roommates and close friends like we once were. I can easily imagine a thousand reasons “why”-all involving a failure or shortcoming on my part. Why do I always do that? Rush to take the responsibility? I don’t know. If I did, I wouldn’t be feeling this way. I feel sad and letdown. Angry at myself, for putting myself in the position to be hurt and letdown one more time by this person, whom I was sure had changed “this time.” She had, for awhile. Time takes time. I will just have to work through it and accept what is.

  • http://HASH(0xd1b41d4) Suzanne Winter-Austin

    Good for you, Therese! You’ve recognized the seeds of your depression as being “Catholic guilt.” My story is quite the opposite. My biological parents were both Eastern European Catholics (I never knew them growing up), and the wonderful people who raised me were mainstream Methodists. No “Catholic guilt” there. But I was given a very strict religious raising, and was a “goody-two-shoes” growing up. Once I got on my own half a continent away to college, and got a job in the Senate, there was no one to tell me “No,” and I ran hog-wild. I got involved sexually with several partners, and was quietly “put away” for a rest in a psychiatric ward. Schizophrenia was the initial diagnosis. In the middle 70s, I was diagnosed with “manic depression”, and later, “Bi-Polar Disorder” (the new “designer” illness). When I was hospitalized for a manic episode, it wasn’t long before I was put on Lithium (which has since caused neuropathy in both legs and been discontinued), and I went into a soul-searching, wretched, deep-down-and-ugly depression, that lasted for a little over a year. Fortunately, this time, I had a place to live that I could go back to, but trying to remember those dark days is difficult now. All I know is I had no self-esteem, guilt for disappointing my parents, going to work every day and staring out the window for the most part (it was a cushy job that allowed plenty of “wool gathering.”) I can remember going to a pizza place with 2 of my best friends, and just sitting there, watching them try, in their misguided way, to “cheer me up.” There was absolutely NO WAY I was feeling like being cheered up. I had heard of the local community mental health center, and as a last resort, made an appointment and met with the doctor. His final question to me was, “Have you thought of suicide?” Bear in mind, I am NOT suicidal – but – thoughts of it had entered my head. He immediately put me on an anti-depressant, and in 3 weeks, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I agree with the post that says there is a biochemical imbalance that causes most mood disorders, and that they can be helped (no one is “cured” of bi-polar) with chemicals in the medication. I can honestly say I have not been in a mental hospital or ward since 1977 (I have had a few episodes, but they were handled out-patient), and the ONLY reason is that I have a shrink who understands my chemical make-up and prescribes meds that alleviate the depression (haven’t had one since that awful year), and control the mania. I don’t believe that any severe mood disorder can be helped by NOT taking prescribed medication; herbs and potions are a lot of hooey. I do have a strong spiritual side, and that has been one of God’s blessings on me throughout my life. If I didn’t believe in Him – I might as well be dead. He IS the light at the end of the tunnel – so, don’t go on “guilt trips” over the little stuff (like picking up the dry cleaning, for Heaven’s sake!), and concentrate on what you can do better to help those who do depend on you – your spouse and your chlldren. Take quiet moments to “get off the highway” and praise the Lord for what He has given you, not what you perceive He has taken away from you, and – God Bless. I do enjoy your blogs – a lot of intelligent people show up here!

  • http://HASH(0xd1b50f4) ps

    Actually all of my life has been riddled in guilt. Again, coming from a Cathoic background and all the jazz that comes with it, I am typically guilty of everything (well, almost).I despise that despicable word!!. How much guilt can one carry anyway..Truly, the things that I feel guilt over are ridiculous..I’ve told myself this over and over again. The list is much too long to print here..One good thing for me anyway is that I’m overcoming all of this. I’m beginning to realize that there should be no guilt for living. That’s why God gave us life…to live..He knows that we are not perfect. That’s why He died for us..Catholic, Christian whatever, we have to wake up and remember Who and What He stands for…remember always and live free and in peace and love now….

  • http://HASH(0xd1b5c0c) Di

    Wow…I never knew guilt could open up such a can of worms. I am Catholic, Hispanic, with a grandmother and mother that suffered from depression…so did I and when I found my children showing signs of the same affliction…I got to work. No more guilt,shame–instead knowing that I had a Father that was perfect, God–helped me climb out –the rest is history. Now if I could only deal with the weight issue. Ha–there’s always something.

  • http://HASH(0xd1b5f30) Becky

    Julie Ann Barnhill wrote a book – “Motherhood: The Guilt that Keeps on Giving” – based on the same themes that commenter Kevin Keough discusses. Barnhill explores (through a metaphor of mountain climbing) how to identify and move past the “false guilt” that moms inflict upon themselves. Points out the mirages of Mount Perfection, and brings moms eventually to the Valley of Grace. And she does so without, I think, laying out her agenda of what a mom should be/do – for one, she gives a balanced look at the BIG sister shoulda’s of “Shoulda stayed home” and “shoulda gone back to work.” And encourages moms to find what’s right for their family – and NOT to have guilt over it.

  • http://HASH(0xd1b8444) DarkAngel

    See, look what catholic faith has given to you? You have misinterpreted God’s love and message yet again. All children of god are guiltless… yes, ALL children of god are guiltless. Freewill means that you are allowed to screw up… rectify the problem as best you can, and move on. Deal with those loose ends. If something stops you from sleeping at night, then deal with it, change it. One day you WILL REMEMBER that you ARE perfect… until then, at least until then, try to remember that as god’s child you should not have guilt… a destructive emotion that inhibits action and change rather than promotes it. Instead of feeling guilty, do what you know will solve the problem, and leave it at that.

  • http://iamradiogirl.blogspot.com Alison Whittington

    Thank you for taking something that plagues me every day and making me laugh about it, Therese. I don’t just feel guilty for little details in my life today, I still feel guilty about things that happened (or didn’t happen) when I was five or thirteen or twenty-one. And like depression, when you’re deep in the middle of guilt, it’s hard to see your way out. Laughter always gives some perspective. In response to some of the comments posted, it seems to me a lot of people see it as a reflection on themselves, a failure of their own, when they can’t fix, heal, cheer up, argue or lecture someone out of depression. Whether repetitive feelings of excessive and irrational guilt stem from someone’s upbringing, from their religion, or from depression or another chemical imbalance, it doesn’t really help if you scold the individual for feeling that way, and make them feel even more guilty.

  • http://HASH(0xd1ba4b0) Nathaniel L. Williamson

    I am not a catholic, but i can totally agree with what you are saying as far as feeling guilty about everything. Depression is a contributor to guilt; and for the longest time i have struggled with both of them. I stopped eating, stopped taking care of myself, and in essence, nearly gave up my will to live my life to the fullest. I am a devout baptist, (protestant branch), and there is an extreme emphasis on the existence of heaven and hell. Once all of my guilt and depression came to a head, i thought i was going to go for hell for sure; the way my preacher depicts it during his sermons, it scarred the bejesus out of me! Ultimately, i am coming out of a period of 15 years of clinical depression; and i am only 25 years old! It is an up hill battle, and it contributes to my guilt; messing up at college;coming home and running the streets;getting high;hanging out with the wrong sorts; contracting several types of debilitating diseases and instead of getting medical attention with the money i made at work, getting high off it instead; lying to my friends and family about many of the things i did in the past; quite a mouthful to stomach! In the process, i’ve alienated myself from many of the friends and family i’ve had; and on top of that, enduring major trajedies/deaths in my immediate family! The only way to beat it is to accept jesus christ as your savior; because spiritual warfare is real! It’s not everyday i meet someone who has the same amount of depression and guilt as i; i’ll pray for the both of us. GOD BLESS.

  • J-kitty

    I agree with you about the guilt thing. I did something wrong awhile back and my family keeps saying exactly that: I should learn from it and move on. Yet I cannot. Part of the reason is I see no way of making amends for what I have done without hurting someone else and making things even worse. This troubles me because usually if I make a mistake I do want to right it. I have no idea how in this situation. My friend said forgettin is the best I can do. The depression and anxiety are some times overwhelming but I am trying to walk on the best I can. And no, I’m not even Catholic!
    Thanks for giving me hope….

  • Ruth

    WOW…so many of us suffer from the same combination. and don’t know how I never connected depression and guilt ..I consider myself a “recovering Catholic”. I was born into a Protestant church..congregational with a loving Jesus and God, then in 3rd grade my sister, brother and myself were all placed in a Catholic boarding school. My mom was in the “nut house” and my dad was in South America and my Grandmother didn’t have the money nor time to keep us. that ruined my life…that was when guilt took over, “origianl sin”..what a crock..no such thing..sorry devote Catholics, but I was only there one year, when I was 8 and I have since that time wondered about God’s love for me, questioned the unconditional love I was first taught, and am so grateful that I have found some peace of mind again. I turned to mind altering substanes laregely because I did not feel loved, by anyone, at least before I knew God loved me, and I began to doubt that. Abandonment plauged me, and still does to this day. I am 54 now and am glad to say I am healing. I love this web site and all the inspiration and stories you all share. I was recently reminded that it’s 90 per cent attitude..and a suggestion about “releiving” guilt and “being honest” and “making amends” …..make sure to ask yourself “who you are doing it for?”. Are you doing it to make yourself feel less guilt or are you doing it out of love? if your are doing it to lessen your own guilt…don’t…that is for yourself and not the other person..this is what I have learned over the years to ask myself when feeling the need to “dump”..and naturally..I am not talking about the stealing from the store, returning it and that kind of guilt..I’m talking about the guilt where you do things, especially for your children, because you want to “help” when in fact it’s not helping as they don’t learn how to stand on their own two feet the dear Lord gave them. we all have to learn our own lessens in this life, and knowledge is power. thanks for listening…

  • CORINNE

    I TOO WAS RAISED WITH A CATHOLIC BACKGROUND. THEN WE SWITCHED TO BAPTIST. IN THE BACKGROUND WAS THE CATHOLIC ATTITUDE. I AM NOW 44 AND FEEL GUILTY ALL THE TIME . FOR ALL SORTS OF THINGS, FROM NOT BEING A GOOD MOM TO NOT BEING A GOOD WIFE. OR THAT I WASTED THE TALENTS I WAS GIVEN. I AM GLAD THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE WHO CAN RELATE TO HOW I FEEL AND I AM NOT ALONE.

  • chris lenni

    I too am a recovering CATHAHOLIC ( as some people have put it)

  • mia

    Wow, I’ve read all the comments and am glad, yet sad, that there are so many of us guilty depressives. I wasn’t raised catholic, I was raised with a christian religion called christian science. It’s very loving and totally different in the teachings of god, it doesn’t have any of the fire and brimstone hell, it’s a very forgiving religion. However, my mother was unforgiving, I never felt as though I could do anything right. I was an only child who was moved all over the world, in and out of schools during the middle of the year, home schooled while traveling. My mother was highly intelligent and well educated, I suppose she expected a lot from me. I was a good child, but I was suffering from deppression even then. I have always suffered from it and as a child, people telling me to snap out of it, I retreated to books, and found if I couldn’t be alone to hide it, that I would have to learn to pretend. I would sit in front of a mirror for hours teaching myself how to make a smile, or fake a smile, so my mom wouldn’t get angry. It’s always been really hard to be in public and to pretend that I’m not suffering from guilty depression, so I found that being alone was easier, therefore being labeled agorraphobic. Those guilty feelings that I get are all the same as the authors, but without the catholic fears instilled, the fears instilled in me were similar though. The effect of those similar fears as children seem to manifest as guilty deppression, I wonder, how many of us with this similar depression also have abandonment thoughts and fears as much as I do?

  • candy

    Dear “guilt”
    I don’t know how old you are, and some of the other commentors,,but I am now 57, and was raised southern baptist…i too have problems with guilt,,but not as much as in the past. I attribute most of my “healing” with my age and the acceptance,,FINALLY, that we are HUMAN here are on the earth,,,not divinely perfect. I think you should lighten up on yourself….you try to “fix” everyone…as I have done in my life,,but you can’t. It isn’t your job…your job is to do your best,,,and at the end of the day have enough left over for YOU.
    Some folks can’t be fixed…that is just life…I have had to accept that about some of my family members,,i can do so much and then that is all……
    It is a struggle for you, me and all the ‘fixers’ out there to not feel guilty,,but guilt, like worry is a useless emotion. Think about it,,it serves no productive purpose….
    We all need to pray for one another,
    God bless you

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