Making Amends

I’ve never been an addict. (Coffee and chocolate and West Wing don’t count.) I’ve never had a problem with drug or alcohol abuse and I’ve never been in recovery for those things, so please understand that I am speaking from the outside here. That said:

I was thinking about some of the 12-Step concepts in relation to depression and anxiety. Are you ever really “cured”? I’m not sure. There are times when I am qualitatively and quantitively “better,” but there is never a sense that “I’m done, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.” I appreciate the notion of measuring sobriety in days, like its a choice you have to keep making every time. That is how I feel about acting on negative thoughts. I’ll always have them, just as some alcoholics say they always want to drink, I just have to keep making the choice not to act on those thoughts.

Another area of overlap concerns making amends for those I have hurt. I admit that I have not always done this, though please realize that does not mean I have not, will not, or don’t believe it’s necessary. Those interactions just deserve to be far more private than the internet. It’s just that I recently saw a post from someone who was let down by a person suffering from depression. The premise was that they are happy for the person who appears to be “better,” but feel bitter that their hurt was never acknowledged and they feel that the apparent “recovery” of said person means that they have brushed off or forgotten their previous actions. While I am not inside the mind and heart of either of those people, I would like to say one thing as it relates to my experience.

I have never, ever, ever forgotten the things I have done to hurt other people. It is an ongoing battle for me to ask forgiveness for those things, and even harder for me to forgive myself. Yes, I may appear to be “better” and “happier” and “like I have moved on,” and while all those things may be true, I ask that you please do not judge what you do not understand, for me or anyone else. Sometimes I need to get to a certain level of “better” before I can address those old wounds in a healthy way. Sometimes I have tried to reach out and been rebuffed. Sometimes it’s just no one else’s business. So while I do have empathy for the person who feels left off someone’s “list of amends,” because in the circular nature of things I feel that way myself sometimes, I do also understand how and why it can be so hard to take that step. Be kind to one another.

One Comment

  1. As a person who has lived with depresion, anxiety, and bi polar disorder; I have thought about this many times. I’ve known many people through the years who have felt “wronged” by my disease. But more recently I have surrounded myself with people who say “whoa that was weird, are you ok?”

    The wronged ones are those who never cared to understand how my disorder works, believed that by taking a pill Id be magically cured, or even that my actions were a concious choice to hurt them (not to protect myself). If they were still in my life, and I’m grateful they are not, I’d attempt to educate but never apologize.

    Would this person feel “wronged” if I’d cancelled because of the flu? If I’d snapped at them while nuring a large open wound? Maybe they would…who knows.

    My point is i don’t feel there’s any need to apologize for, or excuse, your illness or the actions it can cause. By all means tell them why it happened, help them understand. And hopefully they will ask questions in an effort to learn.

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