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Guilt: Mental health’s daughter

Mel Rising Dawn Cordeiro

Managing Editor

Image via Polina Zimmerman/Pexels

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they experience major stress. The stressful event itself is not important, but what is important is the way it’s handled.

I had the honor of hanging out with a great friend of mine that has been going through a terribly stressful time, dealing with something that has taken over a good portion of their life. This person has been a significant portion of my stronghold during a stressful time in my life, so being there for them in whatever capacity they needed was no question. One common theme I did notice, however, is the guilt that this person has been feeling.

There has been a significant amount of mental health within this specific situation, and it has taken a toll on all parties involved. Words were twisted, hurtful and spiteful things were said and self-care deficits were plenty. Personally, it was hard for me to listen to and not say anything. Not that I wanted to yell at everyone, but because I’ve been there. I’ve been gaslit and spoken to poorly as well.

Throughout this conversation, and the conversation that allowed my friend to process everything afterwards, the amount of guilt my friend felt was immense. They felt guilty that they could not do more to help the situation which, in all honesty, was not even a situation they could control. They had already done what was necessary, and they conducted themselves in a graceful, respectful and surprisingly calm manner.

Even days later, I am in awe of how my friend is dealing with this situation. As the situation is getting better slowly, the guilt trip they were put through, even though it was not the true person talking due to their mental health condition at the time, was completely unfair to them. Even when the overall situation improves, the mental health of my friend is affected long term. It does not matter if my friend carries a grudge or not, because to some extent, this situation and what was said will always be in the back of their mind.

In a private conversation with my friend, they were trying to process their guilt. Sure, their situation was depressing, and watching them get emotional got me emotional as well. The amount of guilt they were carrying was so immense, I thought they were going to collapse under it. We started discussing a number of things under the umbrella of mental health and life rolls, and we both have the same questions: Why are certain people always left to pick up the pieces? Who is supposed to help those people when they need it?

Us. We are. We are the ones who pick up the pieces. We are the ones who help ourselves.

This is not to encourage people to withdraw from society, to not be there for someone or to not ask for help when needed. This is to encourage introspection: If you are feeling guilty about a situation, ask yourself why. There’s an excellent chance that you should not take on the burden of that guilt.


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