11 years of 'certified' mental illness are bound to have produced some emotional baggage. Mine is guilt.
I've racked up £18,000 of debt. I've let my family and friends down countless times on countless occasions because I've been too unwell to see things through. On more than one occasion my mother has seen me collapsed into a heap on my bedroom floor, sobbing into my rug because I'm too afraid to leave the house. I've been out of work for periods of up to 12 months. I've ignored people who love me because I'm so afraid of hurting them. These are facts. I couldn't help many of them at the time, I know that, but I still carry the guilt.
My guilt is large, angular and blue/black - the sort of package that's really difficult to carry around and makes your hands ache with the effort. I take this with me everywhere I go. It grows and diminishes according to my mood. When I'm really down the guilt becomes a room, and it can take me days of scrambling around inside my own head to find the door.
It can dominate my life. My new counsellor is working at trying to get me to view things at 'face value'. I tend to attach my guilt to other people, thinking that they're punishing me for things I did (or failed to do) in my past. In the session I struggled to work out exactly what she was on about, I thought she was being extraordinarily harsh and judgemental. However, after some pondering what I think she wants me to do is to try not to attach meaning to innocent gestures that I might be interpreting incorrectly anyway. Other people are not punishing me. I am punishing myself by projecting these feelings of inadequacy and failure onto them.
At the moment I'm signed off work sick with a sinus infection. I haven't left the house (except to go to the docs) in 4 days. The doctor told me to stay at home. That, under normal circumstances, should be enough to allow me to stay at home and recover in peace. But I am spending an inordinate amount of time racked with guilt over something I have no control over - thinking that my entire department are cursing me for dropping them in it. They're not. I am cursing myself. See? I can be rational, yet irrational at the same time. A psychiatrist's nightmare.
I'm not quite sure how this all ends really. Life will always throw curveballs and catch me off-guard. I'm going to get ill again in the future, at some point, and shit will no doubt hit the fan in a variety of other ways. What I would love to stop doing is blaming myself for these unseen problems when they do occur. Or perhaps just blame myself a little less.
More pondering is needed, I guess...