Shame the Swamp Land of the Soul and Depression


Shame is the swamp land of the soul, especially with depression.  After watching Brene Brown’s TED video “Listening to Shame” three times, I was struck by the profound wisdom, knowledge and brilliance that Brene shares about shame and vulnerability.


With depression, the shame can be all encompassing:

  • I am worthless.
  • I am pathetic.
  • I am weak.
  • I am a burden.

Shame, that kept me stuck for the better part of a year.

“Shame  is not guilt.
Shame is a focus on self,
Guilt is a focus on behavior.
Shame is “I am bad”
Guilt is “I did something bad”
~ Brene Brown ~


The Shame and Guilt of Depression and Suicidal Thoughts


An excerpt from A Quiet Strong Voice:

“You can’t do this (suicide)… what about the girls?  What about Neil?  If you do this it will destroy them.  Well, I’m already doing a good job of that right now.  Wouldn’t they be better off without me?”  I argue with myself, the inner turmoil unendurable.

Suddenly, my best friend Sandra, fills my thoughts.  One year ago her sister ended her life by suicide and I have seen firsthand the pain it has caused.  Do I really want to cause her that kind of pain again?”

The shame of who I had become engulfed me, the guilt of the pain that choice would have caused my family and friends was overpowering.


A question I received via email demonstrates shame “My suicidal thoughts scare me and I am too embarrassed to share them with anyone.  What do I do?”

A portion of my response:

  1. I am so proud of you for the courage it took to reach out to me and ask for help
  2. Let go of the regret, let go of the shame – there is NOTHING to feel ashamed about, I too thought these thoughts and that is what they are just thoughts, thoughts  that you courageously did not act upon.
  3. In instances like this, call the Distress Centre’s 24 Hour Crisis Line 403.266.4357 and speak to someone – it’s anonymous.


It Takes Vulnerability and Courage to Reach out for Help

Yes it takes vulnerability and courage to reach out and ask for help.   And it takes courage to put the galoshes on and walk through the shame and guilt, the fear and doubt.  You don’t need to do it alone though.  Find your way around the shame, find your way around the pain – and if you need someone to put some galoshes on and walk alongside you – please do. Actually I strongly encourage you to do so.

“Vulnerability is NOT weakness.
I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty.
It fuels our daily lives.  I have come to the belief that
vulnerability is our most accurate measurements of courage.
To be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen, to be honest.”
~ Brene Brown ~


How can I can be empathetic to someone with a mental illness?

  • Be present in the moment.
  • Listen with full attention and intention to unconditionally love and support them.
  • Don’t try to fix – empathize – identify with them without making it about you.
  • And most importantly accept them exactly where they are and how they are feeling in this moment.

“Empathy is the antidote for shame.”
~ Brene Brown ~



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