FROM THE VIDEO:
GUILT: Emotions of Bipolar Disorder (PART 2):
Welcome to the second video in our series titled “Emotions of Bipolar Disorder.” As mentioned in the first video, we are going to talk about what guilt, shame, regret, and grief are, as well as a few tips on how to process these complex emotions. Today’s video is going to focus on guilt. Special thanks to healthline, centerstone, and the week for inspiring this video.
We’re complex creatures, and when we add something like Bipolar Disorder on top of typical human emotions like guilt, it makes it even harder to process. Bipolar Disorder is like a giant magnifying glass that can make our emotions feel 10 times heavier. That being said, this video IS NOT A FIX-ALL. It might give you some direction or helpful tips, but ideally, you should work with someone like a counselor on a regular basis to help you work through feelings of guilt. It doesn’t just happen overnight and there’s a LOT of information to digest in this video..
Guilt sure doesn’t feel good, but it does have some redeeming qualities… Guilt has encouraged me to change and improve things about myself. It’s helped me to have greater empathy for others and to be more honest. It’s motivated me to take accountability for my actions and to make amends when I hurt someone. Guilt is a very normal, and somewhat useful emotion, but when it starts to infringe upon our daily functioning, it might be time to seek professional help.
As with most complex emotions, there are different types of guilt and they can overlap. The three basic types of guilt are “natural guilt, toxic guilt, and existential guilt.”
In a nutshell, natural guilt includes feelings of remorse over something we did or failed to do. Maybe you lied to a best friend, broke a promise, or put a dent in someone’s car. Toxic guilt comes from a sense of not being a good person, letting others down, or feeling like a failure. I struggle with toxic guilt a lot when I’m depressed. It’s this nagging feeling that everything is wrong with my life. Existential guilt is associated with trauma or situations in the world that we have no control over. Maybe you lost a loved one and have survivor’s guilt. Maybe you see animals in cages or starving children in Africa and feel guilty inside. Existential guilt is more “social” or “political.”
Regardless of what “type” of guilt we experience, it’s not a fun feeling. Sometimes guilt is proportionate or relative to the situation at hand, and other times it could be quite disproportionate where we ruminate over the bad times…. All forms of guilt can disrupt our lives. Especially when these feelings are magnified times 10 during a Bipolar episode. Like I mentioned in the first video, there’s a lot of guilt associated with my diagnosis, people I’ve hurt, and choices I made while symptomatic. Those of us living with Bipolar Disorder are no stranger to the different types of guilt.
Now that we’ve laid the foundation for what we’re going to talk about, let’s get into some tips and exercises that might help. As with all my videos, – please keep your expectations realistic. These tips might not penetrate through deep PTSD, complex survivor’s guilt, or if you are in the middle of a severe bipolar episode. I’m still going to do my best and hope something I share brings a little more peace to your life.