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How to deal with the shame monster?

Hi everyone, I am new to this forum and just trying to ignore the fears and do the daunting first post...
I am 47 and was diagnosed with Bipolar II nearly three years ago (but I have struggled with depression and hypomanic symptoms since I was 14). I take my meds but this has not been a magic bullet, I struggle with side-effects, relapses etc. etc.
But possibly the hardest thing to deal with is shame - the shame of being unwell, and the shame of things done while I was unwell most particularly. It is difficult to take responsibility for myself, my health, and my actions (and I do) without suffering from guilt, grief and shame connected to it (and I also do). How do I find a better way of dealing with this? Is there a way to process it or reframe it?
I am really struggling at the moment with this very issue, and I would gladly accept any thoughts or strategies that anyone finds helpful. Failing that, I'm just hoping that I'm not alone on the shame train.


Re: How to deal with the shame monster?

@anchorandkite  Hey anchorandkite and welcome to the forums.  You are definitely not alone. I live with guilt over what I have done (that I can remember and other things I have been told I did). You cannot go back and change the past but you can change the now and be the best person you can be whilst suffering from this debilitating mi (I know what you are going through I have schizoaffective disorder).


Try to be kind to yourself, keep taking your meds, seeing the doctors, exercising and eating well. You cannot ask for more of yourself than that. Just remember you have friends here and they are non judgemental friends. Love greenpeaxx

Re: How to deal with the shame monster?

Hi @anchorandkite 

You are definitely not alone there!

Shame, grief, guilt, regret,

For me my biggest struggle at this time is guilt, but shame is there too..

I'm in a similar place to you at 48 with bipolar and mostly crippling depression this year.

The guilt at letting down everybody because of this is so unbearable at times..

Seeing a psychologist has helped (although I'm not thrilled with the one I'm seeing at the moment she is affordable)

For me I need to be constantly reminded that I can't go back and change it, but can move forward from now as @greenpea has said.

And each time you fall down, remind yourself that this is a disorder you did not choose and forgive and look forward again.

And stay connected here.

So many people here understand how it is help feel that you're not alone.

Hang in there 


Re: How to deal with the shame monster?

@anchorandkite  You are definitely not alone. What you wrote applies almost exactly to me (slightly different cause - MDD with anxiety - but the guilt and shame feelings are virtually identical).

I struggle in particular with guilt of having let my family, particularly my children, down. By things I've done, or failed to do. By not being able to work. By being sick. By being too tired to do what "a good parent should". By generally not measuring up as a man, husband or father. 


2 things in particular have helped me with shame (or to at least be less crap at it!):


1. "Daring Greatly" - a book by Brene Brown

[She is also on YouTube - a TED talk that went viral.]


She has researched shame and vulnerability extensively. Her book has helped me better understand shame and it's causes, and also it gives practical ways of building what she calls "shame resilience". 


2. Working at Compassion (for others and myself)


Trying to learn to accept that I, like everyone else, am an imperfect human - and that's ok. We're all gloriously imperfect. All completely stuffed up in our special ways! We're all just trying to do our best, and get through each day, with whatever we've got at the time. Crappy behaviour doesn't necessarily equate to being a crappy person (it could be a result of stress, fatigue, illness, trauma, who knows??) provided you're owning it and trying to improve. That's actually courageous and awesome!!


The better I've got at being compassionate for others (particularly strangers) the easier I've found it to be kinder to myself. It also helps me stay calmer and get less irritated / agitated.


For example, instead of getting frustrated at the person driving at 30 kph in front of me in a 60 zone, I try to remember that for all I know that person might have had a miscarriage yesterday, or lost a parent. Does a few minutes of slow driving really matter in the scheme of things?? Compared to what might be going on in the other person's life? Who am I to judge them? I'm not perfect. 


Trying to practice compassion helps me be less critical of myself - which is huge because I'm my own harshest critic (and always have been - no one could beat me up like I could!). 


It helps me give everyone, including myself, the benefit of the doubt (and sometimes even forgiveness!).


Best wishes,




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