The Guilt That Comes With Being Depressed

Sometime in November last year, I was diagnosed with depression. It was after I broke up with a guy I had been with for 6 months. All I remember about the days that followed was the crying, the insomnia and the obsession to have this man take me back. I was then diagnosed and started on a regiment of Amitriptyline to help me sleep. And it worked. For a while.

Then the pills didn’t work anymore. I started taking two at a time, hoping that they’ll help with the crippling pain I felt. I started drinking more than usual (because I’m basically borderline alcoholic, it’s hard to tell when this happens. A good sign: passing out at Lacantina) and then shit hit the proverbial fan. I can now reveal that the whole last week of December, I made plans to kill myself. If my family’s plans hadn’t been ruined, I probably wouldn’t have written this. I realised then that I needed urgent help and I sought it.

That’s when my psychiatrist started me on Fluoxetine, the drug I credit for making my life so much more bearable for the days I can’t speak to my psychologist.

Here’s the problem now: I feel guilty. Not guilty over being depressed as the title might suggest, but guilt about the trigger. I mean how dare I become depressed after a man leaves me when I didn’t become depressed after my father died? I feel like instead of resorting to heavy drinking and sleeping with all and sundry, I should have broken down then. Or when Leko died. After I found out, I bought two bottles of wine and sleeping pills. I think even then the plan was suicide but the wine got to me before I could do anything. How does one get over this guilt? You should hear and see people’s reactions when I tell them what triggered my depression. Said reactions add to my feelings of shame over being depressed over lost love instead of lost lives.

Not only that but I have close friends who have been dealing with depression their whole lives. I feel like my diagnosis, however valid, makes a mockery of all the pain and challenges they’ve been through. It makes me feel like I got diagnosed just for show. Like it’s some cool fad. All the cool kids are depressed, right?

Way forward? I have to resolve these feelings of guilt and shame (tautology?). A part of me has always been depressed but I couldn’t communicate it because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. I remember writing a suicide note in grade 11 or 12 and I had my friends give it to the school counsellor, just for laughs. I realise now that this was my first cry for help. She called my dad and when I got home, the first question I was asked was whether I was on drugs. I learnt then to keep my feelings and thoughts to myself especially where family’s involved. Occasionally, I’d slip up and explode on social media and because I’m Tshego, the dramatic gay bloke, people would just drum it up to an attention seeking stunt. I have no doubts that even now, there are people who feel/think like this.

All I can do, truly, is to keep up with my therapy and focus on a happier, healthier me. I know that I need to get over this guilt or otherwise I’m just setting myself back.