I feel so bad. Whatever I do, I feel bad. Guilty. There seems to be no escaping it.
Yesterday, I had to visit a school in rural Oxfordshire. It was one of the hottest days of the year, and the bus journey through the countryside lanes and pretty villages was glorious. I revelled in it. I felt blessed, and alive, and competent, because speaking to teachers is something I can do, and they were warm to what I could offer them. Afterwards, I had no choice but to wait in the sun for the return bus to work. But as I stood alone waiting, I began to feel guilty. Here I was, enjoying the sunshine, when there were people thinking me unwell, and worrying about me. I felt guilty for not feeling low.
I feel guilty for feeling low. If I’m feeling low because I’ve been forgotten yet again, I feel guilty for feeling that way because it’s something so trivial I’m getting upset over. I should be able to pull myself together, and be like I am when I’m teaching. If the reasons aren’t trivial, they more often than not belong to the past, and why am I getting upset over the past and not living in the present? That’s what I should be doing.
I feel guilty for looking after myself (I don’t deserve care) and guilty for not looking after myself (because I have been told to do so). I feel guilty if I work (because how can I really be ill if I can work) and guilty when I don’t (sloth).
The guilt is hard because saying sorry is brushed aside as unnecessary. I say sorry over and over again when I’ve disturbed someone, or taken up their time, and I mean it. And I say sorry to God, too, for getting help for trivial problems, for not being able to let go of the past. For getting upset so easily. For being out of control. Over and over again.
Whatever I do these days, I feel bad for it. And I don’t know how not to feel it. My psychiatrist says that feeling this way, being ill in this way, isn’t my fault. Logically, at some level, sometimes, know this. But I can’t ever feel it.