Friday, July 06, 2007


The other day I wrote a post detailing how I often feel guilty when I'm too depressed to work but still manage to get out to take photos during the day.

Lee made the following telling comment:

"Why do you feel guilty?"

Let me count the ways...

Mainly it's to do with financial responsibility. Here's a few facts:

  • Mrs M works in a high stressed job, which she doesn't particularly enjoy, leaving home at 6h15 am to negotiate major traffic jams to get there. She earns a good salary (thank G), but can never afford to treat herself to anything because basically, her salary is supporting me too.
  • My aging retired Dad has loaned us money. In the meantime he scrimps and scrapes and may be forced to sell his house, one of the reasons being that I can't repay him.
  • In an effort to alleviate this, my Mom tries to earn a little income by giving art classes. It is extremely painful for her, as she has really bad knees and hips (2 x hip replacement operations)
  • My sister, who in many ways has even more mental health issues than me, soldiers on at her half day job, day in and day out. She also finds it extremely stressful, but unlike me, she pushes and pushes herself.
  • Miss L is likely going to move back in with us next year. We might have to sell our house to afford it. And this time I can't send her to a good school. I promised her a trip to London when she turns fifteen, ever since she was about 6 (so she can see where her Mom and I lived, and where she was conceived). Right now I can't even give her a trip to the local steakhouse.
  • Mrs M's parents have also lent us money. We do pay monthly interest on that loan, otherwise they would not eat. Mother-in-law spends every day at her sewing machine (despite Osteoporosis) to try make ends meet.
And in the meantime, I struggle to put in an hour's work a day.

What, in my opinion, makes it particularly difficult for BiPolars (as opposed to long term unipolar depression sufferers) is that in the Up years, we manage to achieve GREAT things. Like set up my own business, which made major monthly profits for a few years, and realised me a fat cheque when I sold it to a big player in the field.

So you kinda set a precedent. What I'm trying to say is that if I had been depressed all along, and struggled to maintain any career my whole working life, then expectations (self and from others) would not be there, and it would be kinda OK. But because I was capable of having a highly successful career in various points of my life, the obvious logic arises: "Well, he's totally capable, he's just been lazy right now." (like the past 5 years)

And then there's the financial debt issue. Perhaps a unipolar depressive would be more hesitant to take on a half million buck loan from a bank. Not me. I kept telling myself: Well I've done it before, so it's only a matter of time before I get my hyper entrepeneurial drive back, and then I can club the debt in no time at all. Guess what, 5 years later and I'm still waiting for the entrepeneurial spirit. In the meantime my values in life have completely changed, and I'm pretty sure I'll never want to be a success-driven person again (even if I could). I'm quite content to lead my simple life of daily meditation and simplicity. The bank manager, as I'm sure you'll understand, is not so excited about these aspirations (actually he doesn't know about them - I reserve my face from previous years for the likes of him).

So GUILT, if you ask me, is pretty damn appropriate.

Problem is: the ROOT issue is to get out of depression. Wanna know the very WORST way to get out of depression? One word: GUILT.

So it's like a never-ending downward spiral:

Depression => Guilt => more depression => more guilt => more depression => more guilt => more depression => more guilt => more depression => more guilt => more depression => more guilt => more depression => more guilt (yes, I feel quite strongly about this).

Anybody got any ideas about how to escape this whirlpool?


  1. Anonymous06 July, 2007

    Similar to the other cycle of depression, comfort eating, more depressed when looking at the scales, more comforting eating...

    You realise you need to break the chain, but how? In one fell swoop you can remove all your debt by selling your property and starting again. A clean slate. All guilt gone but the comfort of a beach side property is gone. How can you be truly comfortable in the beach side property under the shadow of guilt/debt? Another cycle begins.

    If meditation is the way to clearing your mind, is not clearing your debts another way? Like you I am in a comfort zone, nothing too extreme to require radical action.

    Selling your home and moving to a rented apartment is something you don't want to do but it is like everything else, "Pain or Pleasure". The pain of leaving your dream home to the pleasure of having a debt free simple existence.

    Buddhists monks do not touch money. Is it possible that once all the burden of debts are gone the depression might lift and you will be free to decide the path you truly want to take?

  2. I had a credit card once. I actually got the credit card when someone phoned my mother's house where I was staying and asked me if I'd like one. I was too lazy to hang up or explain why I didn't want one so I just answered their questions and the next week the magic plastic arrived in the mail. I headed down to the discount department store that issued it and bought a set of socket wrenches, some short trousers, and some socks. The bill came and as I was unemployed I was unable to pay it. I think my mom eventually payed it six weeks late or so but POOF, there went my credit rating.

    I took out student loans for two years while at university because as a student I was unable to receive unemployment insurance payments when I lost my job as a cook. I paid that $7000.00 back when I received an inheritance from my grandmother and since that time I've been debt and credit-free. It's been tough at times but it allows me to pick up and relocate whenever I need too. And if I have enough savings, I can take time off between contracts for a few months. The majority of my physical assets are in a storage unit near my parent's home.

    As I might have mentioned before, one of these days I'll be paying cash for a house in the Canadian prairies and growing my own vegetables in the garden while painting and writing in my VERY OWN STUDIO! It's good to have dreams. :-)

  3. Just an idea, but is there enough room in the beach house for an extended family?

  4. Maybe I'm bipolar - I thought that all I had was major depression. But the cycle you describe is so true in my life.

  5. This cycle is very familiar. That's why my tips on depression are mostly action based.

    For me, manic-depression is another way of saying that my energy levels are totally unreliable. The resulting moods are secondary to me. I can be depressed but still relatively active, and I can be (hypo)manic yet totally unproductive.

    Anyway, at some point I discovered that preparing for a depression (aka drop of energy) while still feeling relatively normal, and somehow forcing myself to do a minimum of work while depressed, was more likely to keep some of the huge guilt at bay.

    The guilt for me is a lot worst than the depression itself so avoiding it is a powerful motivator. Which keeps me moving.

  6. I'm right there with you on this.

  7. selling the house is only going to work if you can get more than you owe and if there is enough left to pay off the debts. Do you have bankruptcy in your country? Sounds to me as if it might be time to consider it if you have such a thing........

  8. Since I am in a rotten bed of depression right now, I clicked on your 'depression posts' today and read this one.
    Now, not that I even feel capable of living this right now, but one of the things about guilt is that it is mean to yourself. If you have really reached a point where you cannot handle the tirade, the list of reasons, then it is easier to see that it is a cruelty to oneself to continue it (the wallow).
    So perhaps one way to alleviate the panic and stress that accompany said guilt is to purposely allow yourself to be kind to yourself. Hence, why taking pictures is a lovely thing to do, especially because you are allowing yourself to do something that makes you happy.
    Just because it looks to the outer world (which can mean your family too) that you Ought to have it all together or that you had it together in the past, therefore you Should be fine now, doesn't make it true and you know it. Not only has that sentence pinpointed some Oughts and Shoulds (surefire guilt givers) it pinpoints where we can be kinder to ourselves. (Stop thinking about that list. You really have an illness you know, and a pretty painful one at that). Sometimes I think we have to generate this kindness for ourselves, because it really becomes the difference between continued depression and the teensiest lift.
    I do so understand how hard this can be. I am not a member of MENSA, but my therapist has nearly cried with me, saying that it's got to be rough not only to have the illness but to be so intelligent to be so aware of it. It can hurt to practically see it, and yet the pain goes on and on and nobody seems to know how to stop it. I don't know the answers, I'm glad that you expound upon it so well.

  9. How long has it been since you cried? (I dont know about you but for me its been about a year).

    Try crying like a little bitch (alone of course). A real good one, a spazzy heaving phlemy mess. The kind of cry that is created when all you hear is what your loved ones are saying in their head as they look at you and look away.

    Sometimes afterwards this helps me get out of the hole

  10. Reading this I can't help wonder if i'm bipolar, because i'm depressed 90% of the time, i'm never happy and I'm extremely suicidal. I can understand your guilt, seeing people push themselves for me drives me insane. I wish they would just stop.
    But you need to persevere, try to put in some effort, it will be difficult, but not impossible. The only way to cure yourself of your depression is to eliminate the cause, give yourself hope.
    By throwing in more effort, you will begin to feel less guilty about those breaking thier backs for you, and mentally you will feel akin to them in work wont feel as helpless as you do now. I suggest you don't sell, you may clear our debt if you do, but you will probably regret the situation in the future, further attributing to your depression. Sell as a last resort, and you're not there yet.


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