Guilt is often defined as our conscience telling us that we’ve
done something wrong. It’s usually a helpful tool to keep us accountable for
what we do. People with bipolar disorder and other depressive disorders,
however, often experience excessive guilt. Their conscience blows things out of
proportion, causing them to feel disproportionately guilty and remorseful. These
emotions are usually accompanied by low self-esteem and feelings of
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood
changes that include bouts of mania and depression. During episodes of mania,
or emotional highs, people may feel overtly happy and energetic. However, their
mood can shift to a more depressive state very quickly. They may feel sad or
hopeless and be less interested in doing activities they normally enjoy. People
with bipolar disorder may also be overwhelmed with feelings of guilt during a
depressive episode. They often replay things in their heads constantly and
question themselves or their decisions. They may feel that their condition is
causing them to do something wrong.
If you have bipolar disorder, then you’re probably familiar with these
feelings of guilt during depressive phases. You may believe that everything you
do isn’t good enough and that you’re always letting others down. This can make
you feel small, incapable, and unworthy. You may also feel obligated to satisfy
others, which makes you agree to do whatever people ask of you. You never say
“no” to other people’s requests, especially for work. This may take up a lot of
your time, which can make you feel guilty about not spending enough time with
family and friends.
The guilt you frequently experience can make it difficult for you
to recognize successes or positive personal attributes. This can have a
negative impact on your self-esteem.
Real or perceived, excessive guilt is a debilitating symptom of the
depressed phase of bipolar disorder. The mind starts to sabotage itself with dark,
negative, and unrealistic thoughts. You can feel stuck in a loop of negativity
as your mind repeatedly rehashes even the most minor situation, like a nagging
voice inside of your head.
No matter how hard you try to fight it, the real or perceived
guilt you feel can have an effect on your self-esteem. During a depressive
state, it’s not uncommon to experience low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is having
a generally negative opinion of yourself. You may feel as though you’re not
good enough, not worthy of love, or unable to meet people’s expectations. None
of that’s actually true, but negative emotions can get in the way of reality.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick trick that will instantly remove guilt,
despair, and remorse from your mind. However, there are some ways to improve
your symptoms and boost your self-esteem. All it takes is practice,
determination, and drive.
Self-confidence can be vital for people with bipolar disorder. It
can help prevent self-blame and instill a sense of duty to yourself and others.
Here are some things you can do to boost your self-esteem:
Get to know yourself.
You should take some time to get to know yourself. This could
include paying close attention to your thoughts and reactions, keeping a
journal, or simply setting aside a few minutes at the end of the day to reflect.
These activities are important to do during depressive episodes. Take note of
how you feel as well as when the emotion started. These types of discoveries
may be helpful to bring up with your therapist.
Meditation is a great form of self-exploration. Regular
meditation can calm a frantic mind and help you better understand your
surroundings. While meditation won’t change your circumstances, it can change
how you perceive situations and how you react to them.
Doing something nice for someone else is a good way to improve
your mood. Donating your time to a local charity or non-profit group can help better
your community and boost your self-esteem.
Charity and non-profit groups are always looking for volunteers.
Even if you only want to agree to a one-time event to start, local libraries
and soup kitchens usually need help organizing and stocking. Feel free to try
different organizations and events to see what you like. It doesn’t have
to be a formal process. Even doing something as simple as offering to mow your
neighbor’s lawn or picking up garbage while you go for a walk can go a long
way. The exercise will benefit you as well.
Work on it.
If there’s something about yourself that you really don’t like,
work on changing it. For example, if you’re unhappy with your weight, start
exercising and eating more healthful foods. Just remember that making changes
to any part of your life won’t happen immediately. It takes work, but it’s
If you’re displeased about something you can’t change, such as
your height, then work on accepting it. Attempting to change the way you
perceive things can be difficult, especially with a complicated condition such
as bipolar disorder. However, it’s important to avoid obsessing over any
perceived “flaws,” as it can bring down your self-esteem. You should also avoid
jumping to conclusions about what other people may think about you. For
example, if you think people are only saying negative things about you, pay
closer attention to what they’re saying. There’s a good chance you’re skipping
over the good things and only focusing on the negative.
You may believe that you have to do a million things each day to
feel better and to have a productive day. However, when you’re rushing through
things without giving yourself enough time to think, the chances are that
you’re going to make mistakes. This may become apparent during depressive
states if you’re attempting to stay busy to avoid dealing with your feelings. Slowing
down can be difficult at first, but maintaining a pace that you can keep up
with is important for improving your self-esteem and overall well-being.
Everyone forgets things from time to time, but if you do it often,
you may become frustrated and slip into guilt. That’s why it’s important to
write things down. Making lists is also a great way to show yourself how
much you’re getting done.
Start by putting small things on the list, such doing laundry or cleaning
the kitchen. You may normally be able to complete these tasks without writing
them down, but crossing anything off a to-do list can be satisfying. The more
small chores you can get done, the more accomplished you’ll feel.
Learn something new.
If you doubt how smart you are, get smarter. Learning something
new, such as another hobby or language, can boost your self-esteem. Just make
sure that you’re doing something you enjoy, or you may get stuck in a deeper
rut of self-loathing.
If you have difficulty sitting down and learning something new,
try doing a new physical activity, such as dancing or playing sports. This
activity can be a good way to channel your energy during manic episodes. It can
even help reinvigorate you during depressive states.
No matter what you’re trying to do or change, it’s going to take
practice. Go easy on yourself, learn from your mistakes, and move on. If you
choose to learn something new, the practice should be part of the fun. Try not
to allow yourself to become discouraged as you learn new things.
Celebrate small victories.
you’re working through your personal changes, don’t forget to stop and
celebrate the little victories. This can be something as small as following
your exercise plan for an entire week. Taking time to enjoy and celebrate your
accomplishments can boost your self-esteem and show you that you have what it
takes to maintain your progress.