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Anxiety and Depression Support
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Constant Guilt, Shame and Fear

For years now I have suffered with the constant feelings of guilt, shame and fear. I constantly obsess with things I have done wrong in my past. The feelings bounce back and forth between feeling guilty and then shameful and then fearing that they will haunt me more or come back somehow in my life.

I have taken multiple steps to alleviate these feelings. It's odd that the irrational thoughts really starting picking up only in the past couple of years. However, as I get older I realize they are only getting worse as I obsess about the decisions I make now (having learned from my past) and fear if they will somehow negatively impact me. Unraveled is a good word to describe it.

Just opening up a discussion here to see if anyone feels the same.

24 Replies
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Yeah I feel the same about dumb things I did in my teens...constantly regretting. If you can, see a psychologist. See if they diagnose you with ocd. I used to have ocd and I would regret a lot. The next step is to see a psychiatrist and have him/her prescribe you one or more SSRIs. Keep in mind, it takes them two or three weeks to kick in.

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Thank you for the reply! I will definitely seek out more guidance. I have always been hesitant when using medication but I know many people who have found it helpful.

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If you are a senior I would go with PTSDforyears' advice. What I wrote is based purely on my own experience.

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Hello! Who are you calling a "senior"? :)

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Hello, do not know how old you are, but I think many of us as we "mature" think about the past because we do have those years. Some things we regret doing, other things we regret not doing, and some things we wished we handled differently but may not had the maturity at the time. :)

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Thank you for the input! I am turning 30 shortly so as I grow more mature I think this is definitely something that is true. I wish I had made better choices but also understand and respect that is how growth and the path to maturity is sometimes developed.

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That sounds EXACTLY like what I'm struggling with right now. I haven't been able to sleep at night anymore and the constant negative thoughts are really making it IMPOSSIBLE. What scares me the most is that I'm 41 but feel like I'm going on 81... I feel like I'm just waiting to die and be completely forgotten...and THAT is such a scary hopeless feeling.

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I know it may seem like its "impossible" - but something that personally helps me is to really hold true that there is a solution and YOU WILL find it. It may take time, pain and a lot of practice but there is definitely a way to beat this.

If you are hopeless and fearful of being forgotten then dedicate yourself to living a live wherein you never gave up. That is a life that will always fail to be hopeless and a life that people will always remember you by.

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That is very helpful! Thank you :)

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I can relate to how you feel. I often refuse myself joy always expecting the worse. In moments of being happy my mind is flooded with humiliating events from my past. As if I needed to remind myself there is no reason to be happy because look what's happened before. On top of this my mind is perpetually racing with "What If's." I've never been able to seek treatment as I always talk myself out of it. But from time to time I push past the racing in my brain and expose myself to situations I'd normally run from. When I do push myself, I feel amazing coming out the other side. But as you can imagine this is exhausting. So I dwell here in my mind with my What If's.

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Sadly... same here... I used to actually think this was a good thing in regards to being prepared... I hate the "what if's" trying hard to catch them. Write them down and let them go. Writing them helps me put a pin in that thought and recognize and relabel. So glad you mentioned this because I was struggling pretty severely just this morning.

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I find some ease with my worry stone. Its a quartz crytal that is essentially a stress reliever to hold. Just holding it reminds me I cant control everything and slows the what ifs down a bit. Especially great in traffic.

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I agree - It's like I can never find a "moment of peace" in my head because even when the situation is "perfect" my mind searches for that negative bias. The what ifs tend to take over and the past makes me feel shameful - even though I have been a generally positive person.

Sometimes when I think about the worst case scenario and harp on that it actually helps. If I can convince myself that even the worst case isn't that bad it sometimes helps me get through.

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I have a similar defense. When I feel myself slipping into "What If" oblivion, I try to remind myself "dont worry about what you cannot control." Although this doesnt stop the what if's, it makes it easier to deflect them.

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I feel that looking into our past is an opportunity to learn from it - learning from it can enable us to move on and hopefully do better next time - what gets me anxious is I want to avoid all error in the first place and do everything right in the first place ! Well easier said than done . I have been working on accepting that I am not perfect and I am bound to fail. But failure is a chance to look back and grow as cliche as that sounds . If we obbses over our past how can we live in the now and prepare for a better future ? A catch 22..? What makes things a bit less stressful is by reminding myself and accepting that "I am not perfect, I will fail at times , but I an still loved, beautiful and full of worth- because we all fail to reach perfection - but that is exactly what makes us human and not demi- gods or of the sort- remember that you are beautiful and worth every penny as you are right now - I may not know you.but I know that is true for all of us - I think the goal is to be better than we were yesterday TODAY:) believing this , accepting this, living by this and accepting the negative voice that wants to obsess when it does come has helped me . But there is also good memories and positive things we have done - no one is entirely full of error - in the same we no one is entirely good - that was the biggest hurdle for me and still is at times - we are both negative and positive - but let's accept the two and be the best version of ourselves and never give up EVERY MOMENT, every day . It may not look or feel pretty all the time to be the best version of ourselves- it doesn't mean me are in complete bliss or complete depression - it means we accept and love who we are and strive to be as we feel called for :)

Much love to you !

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Thank you for your inspirational words! I think reflecting on the positive as well is extremely important. Often times, it is easier to remember the really bad that we did compared to the really good. HOWEVER, thats sometimes what makes me strive to be a better person - seeking out memorable moments where I felt like I did "good".

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I can absolutely relate to this right now. This past weekend, I got drunk (for the first time in a long time) and got overly emotional to my friends and all I can think about is how stupid I made myself look. Anxiety makes you really hard on yourself, even more than others. I know I put a lot of pressure on myself trying to be perfect and always do the right thing. Right now though, I'm definitely having a hard time getting past stupid stuff I have done like getting drunk this weekend.

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"It happens" isn't just a cliche expression. I think many of us can relate to that drunk experience we regretted....Luckily - MANY MANY people have the same experience and if this isn't something we want to do in the FUTURE then we do not have to :) Sometimes perfection is the imperfection of yourself. Like many of us agree here, mistakes are relative as they are really just learning opportunities.

I still drink but actually avoid getting drunk. It weirdly makes my super anxious the next day (not because of anything I've done while I'm drunk...not most times...) but because it makes me uncomfortable feeling like I'm not in control. Everything in moderation!

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I also get anxious the next day!! I thought I was like the only one lol. Yeah, I need to be in control pretty much at all times and thats why I hate myself so much for losing control for just one night. It was a mistake I will definitely learn from!

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The thing about guilt and shame that I am trying to understand is why I can be so forgiving of others yet I beat the hell out of myself for some of the very same things?! With my kids I have always taught them that mistakes are wonderful opportunities to grow and learn. And this was before I made the mistakes that haunt me. I also taught them that if guilt and shame are held on to you not only hurt yourself but you hurt those around you. I now have grandkids and I love it when they get excited running up to me saying, Gram's... Gram's.. I made a mistake.. I made a mistake .. i broke the light..with smiles! Then we usually all sit down and come up with ideas so we won't do it next time. Even someone who has made the very mistakes that I have in my opinion should forgive themselves. So, why in the hell can't I forgive myself !?!

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This is such an interesting point - thank you for sharing!

I personally am not exactly sure why this happens but I share the same experience!

My friends, family have done things that have offended me or upset me - even people I don't know (only natural). However, I feel like I am the most open and accepting person. Maybe this is a good thing? I know it's painful to not be able to forgive yourself but there is a positive in being an overall accepting person in this world. No matter your beliefs or differences sometimes just being forgiving and understanding is the most valuable thing.

Take it as a benefit - and remember the world needs the more people like you :) As for forgiving yourself, everything heals with time, and until then use it as more fuel in inspiring people around you to be more forgiving and understanding.

ps - Love the note with the grandchildren - I'm sure they must appreciate it!

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This is a real common theme and a recurring one, so realize that you're not alone. I ruminated over many past experiences for years, having been through abusive matters and such. It took me many years to realize what I put up with bad behavior, my thoughts and feelings that had been ignored for a long time.

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Thank you for sharing and I appreciate the sentiment :)

Are there any strategies you recommend for managing these feelings?

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I've always wondered if I was the only one who has this debilitating problem. Reading these comments here let's me know i'm not alone. GoldStarHero's comments describes my situation exactly. Constant negative thoughts over things that happened decades ago. Mostly situations that I was embarrassed about because I wish I had done or said something different in retrospect. Like when I was a grown man in my late 20's and cried at a friends funeral. I've always been full of anxiety my entire life and still can't stop the constant flood of negative thoughts from the past.

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