Mental Health – don’t be an asshole?

2

September 2, 2015 by positivelypeachie

I saw this article posted on FB and my cousin, who shared it, captioned it with “The person who wrote this is an asshole”.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/chelsea-fagan/2015/05/your-anxiety-isnt-an-excuse-to-be-an-asshole/

Go on over and read it if you have a few minutes. It’s worth the read.

First off – I want to say that I do not agree with my cousins caption. While I believe the article could have been written in a better way to elicit a more mature response, I can’t say that I completely disagree with what it says either.

I have OCD. It’s an anxiety disorder. I have had it for over a decade. Sometimes, it’s debilitating. In my younger days, when it was at it’s worst, I lost close friends over it…people who I had spent almost every second with for the three years prior. While I would love to sit back and say those friends were assholes and didn’t deserve me – that’s just not true. They were loving, kind people who were incredibly supportive of me for as long as they were capable of it. Eventually, they just had to step back and preserve themselves…because watching someone you love succumb to a debilitating illness and fall in to dangerous self destruct patterns is incredibly hard for everyone, not just the mentally ill. My friends were being sapped dry. I was encompassing large parts of their lives, and without a single regard for their feelings or sacrifices. Eventually, they just couldn’t do it anymore…and so they slowly phased me out of their life.

It hurt, immensely. It is actually the single most painful moment of my life thus far – and it took me a very long time to learn how to trust people again. But I do not hate them for it, because I know what they did was all they could do to save their own hearts from the destruction I was causing. I am actually thankful they did it – because it is what made me realize how bad things were. How sick I was. So I got help – and it changed saved my life. Now I am a functioning, mostly normal, pretty healthy adult – and I credit it, completely, to them walking away.

While we keep in touch periodically, our friendship could never be rekindled. Too much damage was done, and we were all too hurt at the end of it. The scars from this experience run deep, and all of us are equally wounded. I am sad that it happened the way it did, but I know there is nothing I can do to change what happened. Some things just can’t be recovered – and our sister-like friendship is one of them. I try to focus on the good memories we had – which were plenty – and accept that friends coming and going are all a part of life. I forgive them for walking away, and I forgive myself for my part in causing them to walk away.

I wish, at that time, I had been able to see that things would be OK, and how hard they were working to try and keep me afloat. I wish I had been able to treat them better – the way they deserved. I wish I could have been able to see how sick I was, and how badly I was hurting them. I couldn’t, though. I was blinded by my illness and it was I could do just to go on living. Mental illness is hard, so hard, and while I agree that people should be more considerate of the way they treat their village when they’re mentally ill – I can also acknowledge it is not always possible. Which is why it is so important to love your village in your clearer moments – so that they know what they’re doing is helping.

The culture of giving people a free pass to be insensitive, ungrateful and inconsiderate because they are ill is one I struggle with daily. While it can be a reason for certain behavior, I don’t believe it’s an excuse. You can be mentally ill, and still a kind person. I know there are exceptions – severe manifestations of illnesses, crisis moments, etc – but on the whole, I think we are far too inclined to give ourselves a free pass in terms of manners and etiquette while expecting more of our friends. If you are never working to improve yourself, you will never change. Overcoming mental illness requires change…and if you are not willing to even try and better your situation, how can you expect your loved ones to try and better your situation? They can’t change you, only you can change you. I know, in the darker moments, it’s almost impossible to consider this – but the harsh reality is that this is the only way to make your life better. By spreading the word that it’s OK to treat people badly because you’re hurting, it is just creating a society of victims who will never be able to find the strength to get better. You can’t control whether or not you get an illness (mental or otherwise) but you can control how you handle it. I know it’s cliché, but it’s true. Without the courage to make the changes necessary to better your life, you will always be in pain and suffering…and so will your loved ones. Change is the only option to heal. It’s hard, harder than most things in life, but it is so worth it. You deserve it, and your family does too.

This article said a lot of important things in a brash and insensitive way. Not everything is my truth, but some of it is. The main one being – no matter how sick you are, no matter how badly you’re hurting, take a moment to thank those who are taking care of you. You’re hurting, but they are hurting too. Mental illness is not a singular disease – it affects everyone who loves the mentally ill. Try and remember that it is not your right to have people around you who work tirelessly to support you while you self destruct. It’s a privilege, and you should treat it as such. Not everyone is so lucky. Love them, even in your most painful moments, because they love you in theirs. Lastly – be kind to yourself, and be kind to them too. They are invaluable and they love you when you don’t have the strength to love yourself.

——————————————–

What do you think of the article? Do you have any experience with this?

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2 thoughts on “Mental Health – don’t be an asshole?

  1. I 100% back you. Anxiety is not an excuse to be an asshole and sometimes your loved ones need to step away for their own health. (Said from someone who has been on both sides)

    Like

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