We, the nutcases, often struggle to come to terms with the person we are while unwell versus the person that is masked by the mental illness. As we struggle for understanding in ourselves it is very difficult to project the internal struggle to those around us. It’s hard to see that a lot of times we don’t even understand what drove our thought processes. All we can do is sweep up the ashes and hope we don’t lose too much in the process.
That brings me to the topic. A reason? Or an excuse? In my experience- quite a few normals I’ve dealt with see mental illness as an excuse. They have been treated like garbage by someone who was severely unwell or just didn’t give a shit- someone who used their Disorder as an excuse to do so. Since that is their personal experience, they tend to cling to that to ensure they don’t wind up as collateral damage in future interactions with the mentally ill.
In this situation- an excuse to me implies that the person does not want to accept that anything may be wrong or they know something is wrong but milk it for all it’s worth. These people will typically break it out as an excuse to try and seek asylum for any number of their shitty behaviors. “Oh well, I’m Bipolar so I didn’t have control over my actions.” or “Can you loan me money? I can’t hold a job.” And then proceed to do absolutely nothing to remedy the situation.
It is alright to have compassion for people, even manipulative assholes. However; compassion doesn’t mean you allow yourself to be victimized either. You can care about someone and still not put up with their bullshit. “You can stay here, but you either need to be trying to get on Disability or at least trying to work a part-time job.” “What’s the money you’re ‘borrowing’ from me going for? Specifically. If it’s medication, electrical bill, or something like that- fine. If you’re buying liquor or bullshit with it- then we’ll have a problem.”
What constitutes a reason? It’s actually very simple. Can the person take responsibility for their actions even if they don’t understand them? Responsibility means apologizing, trying to pay for the damages if you can, and doing what you need to. Take responsibility for your unwell actions as much as you can. Some people will be able to forgive you- others won’t. That’s just an unfortunate part of our existence.
And I would like to clarify a point. When I suggest an apology- I am not advocating apologizing for being mentally ill. NEVER apologize for being mentally ill. It’s not your fault. You have no control over the hand you were dealt- but you can choose how to play it. What I’m talking about is apologizing for hurting that person you care about. Nuts or not, no one wants to feel as though their feelings are given no consideration. Apologize for the pain, apologize for screwing things up for that person, apologize because you care about whatever you inflicted on that person.
I usually use something to the effect of- “I am sorry for XYZ action. I was unwell when I did it and I really thought I was doing the right/correct thing. If I can make it up to you; please let me know. Unfortunately, I’ll probably end up doing something just as insane in the future. That’s life as a Bipolar sometimes.”
A normal that says it’s only an excuse for shitty behavior has often been hurt badly by someone in their past, so arguing is rarely productive. I use something to the effect of- “I’m sorry for whatever you went through to have caused you to draw that conclusion. But I’m not like that. I take my meds, I fight for my wellness and to understand, and I take responsibility for my bullshit when it erupts. I know I’m Bipolar- and I don’t deny or fight that realization. I do everything I can to manage it. If ever there comes a time I treat you like that- tell me I’m being an insane asshole. There’s a good chance I just haven’t yet realized I’m unwell.”
The important thing is to stay calm. Some scenarios I’ve seen where this is the case is a person who was badly abused by an unmedicated Bipolar parent or someone with an unchecked Bipolar spouse who utterly destroyed their peace of mind and life. In either case, you won’t win an argument with them. You just have to give them the fuel for thought to show that we’re all individuals and can’t be lumped together. Frankly, it’s identical to racial stereotyping. It’s a physical difference that is assumed to bind us all into a stereotype. Black, brown, white, mentally ill- all are physical differences. Ours is just invisible.
So for those of you that are wondering whether it is an excuse or a reason- it all boils down to responsibility- if you take no responsibility for your wellness or trying to find it, walk all over others and think you’re exempt from their anger, or act like a shithead because “you’re mentally ill”. You’re just making excuses as a false victim. You have the power to change your life for the better; even if that means trying med combinations for years, dragging yourself to appointments you don’t want to go to, or taking the first step to acknowledge that you’re broken- just like me and several others in this world. You’re not alone, even if you think you are.
And if you cross paths with one of these people that make it harder on all of us- call them on their bullshit. The normals may not know how to handle a person like that but we do. It is typical to return to a point where we are finally able to feel sorrow and bad about what we did to the people we care about. If you reach that point- own up to it. If you reach that point and say fuck it- then you’re a selfish asshole for making things harder on the people that care about you and those of us who do.
That is something we should all be angry about.
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