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How Do You Deal With Shame/guilt?

Discussion in 'Other Symptoms & Disorders' started by angel2write, May 31, 2011.

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  1. angel2write

    angel2write Mad Scribbler & I.C.P.
    Premium Member

    Hoping someone on here will have something to say that will help me.

    I'm stuck in powerful feelings of Shame and Guilt today. I know I haven't actually done anything wrong. But I can't seem to deal with the feelings in any helpful way. I tried writing in my diary, talking to a friend, getting some chores done, reading a book, etc. Nothing seems to be helping.

    This is a little different from the Anxiety waves that come on some times. And I don't really feel particularly Depressed. I just feel like I've done something horrible (when I haven't) and I feel terribly ashamed and guilty.

    Any thoughts, anybody? Or am I the only one who does this?
    goingonhope likes this.
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  3. anni

    anni Bucephalus ( an old war horse )
    Premium Member

    Honestly? I realize this sounds rather silly but after suffering with this for more awful years than I care to admit I quite literally tell 'it' to knock t the heck off, already. Just STOP it, if that makes any sense, It's SO awful, debilitating and intrusive that it's the only single thing I've been able to come up with which 'works'-sometimes. I know this sounds even sillier but I yell at my head all the dam time-out loud, too so... yes seems silly and would be if it didn't work so well. It's be " Oh for God's sake stop that!", sometimes with a big red stop sign flung up in my head, too. Who knows why it's effective- maybe it's the sheer belligerance doing this awakens, or the change of tone one is using with oneself- the bullying one. :)

    There's a ton of healing, through professional and whatever means will negate the necessity for all this of course but I'm not quite there yet so continue the self-tough talk. Everyone is different as to what is possible and what might work so perhaps this is not at all helpful for you. I'd write more but am in the middle of some constructing some fat red signs of my own at the moment.

    Do take care,

  4. angel2write

    angel2write Mad Scribbler & I.C.P.
    Premium Member

    Thanks, Anni. I yell at myself a lot, too, trying to drown out the negative voices in my head. But it doesn't seem to work for me. I've actually gotten into a place where I threw myself at walls or pounded on the steering wheel of the car while yelling trying to get the tape to stop. Sigh. This is one of the things I'm trying to get rid of in my life.

    The stop sign visualization is something new. I don't know about a stop sign, but maybe I could come up with a safety picture of some sort and hold it up. I'll think about this. Thanks for the suggestion.
  5. Kb3

    Kb3 Guest

    It took really effective therapy for me to tone this one down and it was a big one for a long time. It gave me such feelings of self loathing that I felt less than human.
    The therapy and the validation of the therapist is what got me over it, as was educating myself about my trauma and being honest with my husband about what happened. I now place the blame where it belongs, and I excuse myself for the way I acted because there is no way that I can be held responsible for it.
    I also know that the people who victimised me wanted me to feel ashamed because this is how they could control me. Now I let them take every bit of blame for what happened and let myself off the hook. Why should I continue to suffer for their mistakes and cruelty is how I look at it.
    I hope that you are able to get some relief from these awful feelings, I really feel for you and wish you luck.
  6. brat17

    brat17 I'm a VIP

    For me, I have to understand it in order to work on it. I think "guilt" is related to something we have done or perceived we have done wrong, or did't do. ( could have, should have, would have)

    I think of "shame" as related to "who we are". ( I am bad, I am unlovable, I am unworthy) Often rooted in messages given when we were young.

    Is it one or the other or both?

    I know I have some of both but have to identify what it is about to challenge those self destructive beliefs and thoughts.

    I feel guilty for other peoples happiness, for not being able to be a super mom, big bread winner, and suzie homemake all at the same time. They are unreasonable and can be challenged and changed.

    I feel shame for having needs, basic needs (need for food, affection, approval, security, etc.) They are more at the core and not based on an incident or circumstance.

    I know you said that journaling did not help so this may not be helpful to you either. For me, carrying a notepad and jotting down related thoughts throughout the day helps me to identify. I think it is because they are fleeing thoughts (I know better than to allow them so I halt that thought and dont think about it anymore-but its still there although repressed). Only after I identify it clearly can I challenge it with positive self talk. Even then, I have to keep at it because the theme is often the same.
    goingonhope, Junebug and angel2write like this.
  7. angel2write

    angel2write Mad Scribbler & I.C.P.
    Premium Member

    This is an interesting question. I know I have horrible guilt every time I ask for something I want. I haven't tracked down where, in particular, that one is coming from.

    The shame... I guess maybe comes from every tiny perceived mistake I make? Maybe? I have trouble pinning it down. I just go into this spiral of the deadly trio: stupid, ugly, and worthless. (I know what you mean about getting the thought to stop by then it's still there- just repressed.) Sometimes the feelings sneak up on me and I can't even tell where they're coming from.

    This resonates, too. Thanks for sharing. I'm sorry you have struggled with this issue, but it's nice to know I'm not the only one.

    What do you mean by "challenging it with positive self-talk?"
    Junebug likes this.
  8. angel2write

    angel2write Mad Scribbler & I.C.P.
    Premium Member

    Yep. Right there with you. Feeling like an :alien:.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I appreciate it.
  9. brat17

    brat17 I'm a VIP

    We are never alone...

    Challenging with positive sell talk, alias inner care taker

    Ex; I ask for something that I need help with, the reply is "you want me to......I have to work, Ive been working all week, then I had to do xy and z on sunday for the running club"
    My inner thoughts say' Oh ya, they have been working and are tired in the evening,and its a new job and takes getting use to, and they do deserve to have hobbies on the weekend, plus its the only time she has to see her boyfriend and do laundry." (excusing others)

    The next set of thought goes like this-"Its your job to take care of others, others are more important, they have a future, you are not important, its your problem anyway, if you were better-you wouldnt need help, you are worthless and should try harder"(no slack for myself)

    Shame based Belief rooted in childhood-"I am not deserving or worthwhile of getting what I need"

    Now with such a belief, do you think I am going to get what I need or want?

    Challenging that talk-
    She may think that her priorities are more important than mine, but we are equally responsible.

    I am worthwhile and deserving of what I need, I may have not known it in the past because I was not shown, but today I am showing myself and I am seeing that it is inequitable for any one person to carry the load-repeat as many times as needed

    Would friday evening after work or saturday morning work better for you?

    Does it makke sense?-sorry Im a little tired from the sun
  10. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Yes brat, to hear you spell it out it does make sense to me.

    Never would have thought to get to (your) 2nd-last line. (In fact, when I read it thought "Huh??" :rolleyes: )
    Thank you.
  11. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    The answer to this:
    Is not the distraction methods you have employed, which that's all your trying to do, is distract, not deal with, compared to what is said below, which is spot on the money on how to recover from shame and guilt, being:
    If I could like that 100 times, I would... that is the perfect answer.
  12. Sethe

    Sethe I'm a VIP

    I have yelled at the old tapes in the past, but lately I've found that I need a more nurturing way to deal with the pain and shame. Sometimes yelling at myself just brings on even more shame. I try to be gentle with myself and acknowledge how I'm feeling. I use positive, repetitive self talk.

    I've heard too much yelling/screaming in my life (which is part of the reason I'm here). Why would I want to yell at myself even more?
    goingonhope, angel2write and anthony like this.
  13. Srain

    Srain "Please don't tell me not to cry."
    Premium Member

    Honestly, without the angle and input of an uninvolved , whose not a friend, relative, has no personal stake in my "getting over it", doesn't have to live with me, outsider whose only role is to help me work through this AND is getting paid as well is educated in this area I don't think I would FINALLY be making any kind of progress in this area. In between I have an object she let me take to help remind me of the words she has said so that when the "old tapes -you are responsible, you guilty b***h, etc" come up I can see it and replace them with her voice and what we have discussed.

    It is working. It takes time and work. A life time of conditioning doesn't change overnight but I can't do it with a "Think Positive" Book by myself....I need help from a person. Understanding who, what, when, and why, before I can get to that point. But that's just me.

    Junebug likes this.
  14. angel2write

    angel2write Mad Scribbler & I.C.P.
    Premium Member

    Well, yes. That is how you heal from it, and I am working as hard as I can on that stuff, which will bring long-term results.

    But there are two parts to PTSD. Healing from it and coping with it. And I guess what I meant to ask was more, does anybody have any ideas on how to COPE with this particular symptom while I'm working on getting healed from the whole shebang.

    And thanks, guys, for giving me some more suggestions to try.
  15. brat17

    brat17 I'm a VIP

    Anthony is right on-distraction is not dealing with it.
    I hear so many times advice that is-its time to get over it, time to move on, forgive myself/yourself, heal from it, etc.
    I think that some of us are looking for "how to" how do I forgive myself if I dont know what Im beating myself up for.

    Cant quote but know I have read that early trauma is either "shame" based or "fear" based, (or combination ) and they are not really treated the same as their symptoms are not the same.

    I know my early life was more neglectful daily with periods of witnessing Abuse. That equates for me daily shame with periods of fear. With shame that comes from neglect its harder to be angry at anyone,(nobody to forgive) at least for me, it is more internalized and cause of depressive symptoms. It has played out in my life by not being to ask for anything.

    The rational adult in me know that we are all equal and have the same rights, we all have needs and wants and those who love you would want to share -unless you -for example-marry a workaholic who doesnt want to be bothered.

    I didnt realize it until the PTSD symptoms returned a couple of years ago but my kids are 21 and 23. I was healthy and high functioning during most of their life. Yet I very infrequently had babysitters. When I did, it was because the neighbor teen offered to babysit and left me her number or something similiar. I realize how sick this sounds and is-but I would not even make a phone call to a recomended sitter even though I was paying top dollar because I had that much trouble asking for something. (Used a childcare service during day that had policies-no fear of let down-rejection?-forgetting to tell them something etc)

    I have paid cleaning people to do very basic. Then I need them to do ceiling fans or something-and have real trouble asking. (others often respond according to how they see us-how we ask-expecting something or nothing, right down to our posture )
    The worse my ptsd got, the harder it has been for me to make appointment-doctor, furnace check, anything. My behavior shows that "I am not important" and dont want to bother you. That is shame not dealt with. So I can be very honest with significant people around me about what happened and why I am this way. I can tell myself that I was just a little girl and it was not my fault. Yet I do not know another way (in my head repeating realistic and positive statements that my needs are as important) to resolve this kind of shame. I am experienceing progress but very slowly.

    I am very open to any suggestions and would appreciate any help offered
    Junebug likes this.
  16. angel2write

    angel2write Mad Scribbler & I.C.P.
    Premium Member

    Exactly so. I feel like that a lot. I want to deal with the issue in a meaningful way... but haven't identified where it is coming from yet. It's like when you hear an unknown beeping in your house. Is it the cell phone? Regular phone? Coffee maker? Fire alarm? Carbon monoxide dectector? Child's toy out of batteries? Computer backup going bad?

    The real way to deal with the persistent beeping is to find the source and deal with it. Obviously. But what if you can't find the *%&$& source? Sometimes the best I can do is try to calm myself down, distract myself, or try to deal with the symptoms until I can find and fix the problem.

    This is interesting. I liked what you said above about trying to determine if it's shame or guilt, too. Narrowing it down... am I feeling shame, or guilt? Is this from a time when I was afraid or a time I was made to feel powerless and ashamed... it might help to track down the source of the feeling. If I can just figure out what is TRIGGERING the feelings, maybe I can do something with them.

    What Sethe said is really helpful, too.
    I am learning (far too slowly) that dealing with myself gently will eventually help. It's just hard, when I'm in the middle of a very bad bit, to not run in circles panicking and doing anything I can think of to try and distract myself or make myself feel better. It is very, very hard to sit there and hurt and be gentle with myself. Instead of self-harming or medicating. I want to DO something, and a lot of times, there isn't anything to do. Except sit there and feel the hurt. Which stinks.

    Am I blathering again? No wait... don't answer that.
  17. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    This is 'me', as well, in so many ways. And then all of a sudden the shame can be so toxic it hits me out of the blue and threatens my very existence because it makes me want to self-destruct or disappear.

    Like curiouser said in a different post, we have to make peace with it.
    But how? How do we get our 'hearts' to accept it, not just our 'heads'?
  18. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    As was stated above...
    I will summate the above into what I perceive more accurate points:
    • Place blame with who rightfully owns it (that could include yourself)
    • Don't own something you have no right to own
    • Own what you own, nothing more, nothing less
    • Believe all of the above, then your head and heart will have the same outcome. Don't believe it, then your head is trying to say one thing, your heart is telling you otherwise.
    This often comes back to that nasty nasty, dirty little secret or pieces we often keep, on what blame do we really have? Often a heated discussion, yet the truth often pops out the end with honest answers on who really owns what, allowing you to truly believe whether you own any fault or not when reviewing every aspect of a traumatic event.

    It can even be something completely unrelated that harbours the emotion of shame or guilt, yet you associate it to another traumatic event. Comes back to secrets... your brain will use anything and everything negative it can get its hands on, PTSD takes that and then smacks your brain and body with symptoms, emotions and irrational thoughts.

    Think of PTSD as its own entity... it will do everything to win, so you have to be quick to repel and fight it.
    Srain, goingonhope and Junebug like this.
  19. Sethe

    Sethe I'm a VIP

    Not blathering. Yes, it is hard! I've been struggling with it all day. I'm just learning to be gentler with myself. Tapes were running full blast today. Some days are harder than others. Practice.
  20. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Thanks Anthony, in this case it would be me giving 50 or 100 'likes'.

    I think you (the whole post) is totally correct. And PTSD does feel like that to me- a very destructive liar with a lot of force of its own.

    Because you are right- you ('I') either face all the stuff- everything- or you don't. I realize self-care etc is important also, to ride the symptoms out, but I'm at the point I'd rather be more pro-active in that I'm sick of being a hostage to my own head when the PTSD gets involved. I guess for me personally that's going to involve doing things a LOT differently, even though I'd rather tell myself (or let the PTSD) tell me I'm managing than really push out of my comfort zone. Or to even 'believe' things that the PTSD tells me are not true.

    Curiouser also said what you did, in a way- to use your voice. Part of my difficulty is in finding it, part of my denial is in thinking it's ok to keep (some, if not most) things to myself.

    You are so right, thank you.
  21. Kb3

    Kb3 Guest

    I will tell of my feelings of shame and guilt and how I overcame them by looking at the situation objectively and assigning blame, in the hope that is of some help to other people who are suffering from these feelings. I do not wish to offend anyone or take more space on this thread than I should, so please ignore this if you don't want to read it. I will repeat, this could be upsetting for anyone who is triggered by medical settings or assaults, so please be careful.

    This is what I was ashamed of and how I defeated it:

    Acting in a disinhibited way, calling them names, lashing out physically, and insulting the medical standards of the entire country at first, then saying embarrassing personal things about myself and continuing to act in a extremely disinhibited way until I was put back under. I defeat the bad feelings that come up about that by reminding myself that I was in the midst of a fight and flight situation in which the primitive part of my brain, untethered from conventional rules by drugs, terror and rage, took over. As it would for ANYONE in a similar situation. It was not a case of me acting in an "unladylike" way because I am coarse and poorly bred, which is how I was made to feel. I'm not, and if I hadn't been forced into it by them, I would never have known that I (and in fact any human being) possessed the ability to act that way.

    Having a bowel movement on the operating table in front of five strange men. How I fought against that shame: educating myself about how medications used during surgery and mortal terror can affect the digestive system. I also tell myself that something like this happens in medical situations everyday and there is no reason why my human body should have reacted any differently than any other human body would have.

    I also had feelings of self loathing because for a period of time I was held down by these men, naked under an operating light, shivering violently and lying in my own filth while being verbally abused by the nurse anesthetist and scrub nurse. It made me feel like an ugly animal. THIS IS NOT MY SHAME. It is theirs, for putting their career concerns before my welfare, for completely robbing me of my dignity, and for continuing to hurt me during the most vulnerable moment of my life. This is, more than anything else, the reason why they will fry in the pits of hell for eternity. Not me.

    When I called the consultant anesthetist several months after the surgery to privately ask why I couldn't sleep properly and was having nightmares about all of the above, and the actual awareness which precipitated the assault, she never called me back. This is when the PTSD took grip. I became overwhelmed by feelings of shame and guilt, of being a nuisance, someone who was not worthy of an important doctor's time. I have defeated this by reminding myself of the Hippocratic oath "First do no harm" and reminding myself of how completely they failed me after injuring me and also what they said to me at the time: "stop making a fuss, you're being a baby and we'll treat you like a baby". She also chose to leave me with a nurse anesthetist who was high on drugs, instead of staying with me herself or postponing the surgery because he was incapacitated. Again, this is HER SHAME. Not mine.

    The thing that I will own is that I was a difficult patient prior to my trauma and didn't give an accurate medical history. I was frightened about the surgery and had a poor doctor patient relationship with the surgeon. I was also being bullied by my psychiatrist to go back onto several different psychotropic medications, including an antipsychotic that would have been prescribed at three times the dose that I am currently on, after having just given birth to my third child. I was living in a foreign country with a very weak support system and to say that I felt like I was being cornered and forced into something that I knew wasn't right is a huge understatement. As I said, I own that I wasn't rising to the challenge that was being presented to me, but that's all I was doing. The surgeon chose to write off my bitchiness as a personality trait, and not retrieve my medical records prior to the surgery. It's probably also the case that he scheduled the surgery too close to the time that I had given birth (eight weeks) unnecessarily. This may have affected how the anesthetics worked for me. He also chose to let his inexperienced junior colleagues close the wound and left the OR before the end of the surgery. He acted unethically, and he has no one to blame but himself for having it blow up in his face. HIS SHAME, NOT MINE.

    I will say that a lot of those feelings of guilt, shame and secrecy stem from my childhood and the way I was treated then. I credit that environment for laying the groundwork for my PTSD and the only antidote to it has been objectively looking at the facts and informing myself of how it should have been. And it was ALL WRONG. NO ONE, FOR ANY REASON, SHOULD HAVE BEEN TREATED THE WAY I WAS, AND THEN MADE TO FEEL IT WAS THEIR FAULT. The fact that I was proves their guilt and desperation, and has absolutely nothing to do with me.

    That is how I have defeated my feelings of shame. I'm sorry that it's so long and only deals with my stuff and has so many shouty words and disturbing elements, but this is what I have had to do to get over it. And it has worked.:). I truly hope that anyone else who is suffering with these insidious feelings can take something from it and help put their minds at ease with regards to their own situation. Please don't let the perpetrators of the crime continue to hurt you through shame and guilt. Fight it by assigning the blame where it belongs, and don't look back.
  22. brat17

    brat17 I'm a VIP

    EAT0429-I am sorry you had to go through such a thing, and you are absolutely right, this is not your fault. I am glad to hear that you have overcome the shame that was originally felt. There is clearly no reason for you to feel shame for this.
    Kb3 likes this.
  23. angel2write

    angel2write Mad Scribbler & I.C.P.
    Premium Member

    Well, my brain finally coughed up the secret that I think was aggravating this latest cycle of crippling shame. I've had a series of flashbacks in the last two days uncovering a new set of hidden memories. Apparently, I wasn't just molested by two men and a teenage boy- they also forced my best friend to participate in sexual activities with me that hurt both me and her. The shame and guilt is so huge I can kind of understand why my mind blocked it out for so long.

    I'm still kind of reeling, but at least it's out on the surface now where I can work on it. And it explains so much of my irrational behavior and trust issues. I understand a lot more now. It just hurts like... God, I can't even think of an analogy.
  24. angel2write

    angel2write Mad Scribbler & I.C.P.
    Premium Member

    This is a beautiful example of working through the process. Thanks for sharing it. I'm glad you've found some peace about these things.
    BloomInWinter and Kb3 like this.
  25. Kb3

    Kb3 Guest

    I'm so glad that this is making itself known to you now, and it is so good that you are hanging in there. I know that it is hard. I hope that in time your feelings of guilt and shame lessen or go away entirely; what happened to you was not your fault and you did what you had to do to get through it.
    Nighthawk, angel2write and Junebug like this.
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