There are quite a few things about the circumstances surrounding mental illness that irritate me to no end. Today, I’m going to be complaining about the “martyrs” of mental illness!
Let me be clear, I do NOT think less of people that decide to stay in a difficult situation with a Bipolar or mentally ill person. I am fully aware that there was a point when that person was probably a wonderful or great person, that you would like to see them recover. You are absolutely entitled to vent, rage, be sad; whatever. What I have a problem with is the following…
Allow me to paraphrase the complaint I hear on a regular basis.
“People play the victim card too much. “Oh, I have ‘Bipolar Disorder/Other Serious Mental Illness’ and I can’t be held responsible for my actions.” What about me? What about everything I’ve been through? My loved one has been abusive and shitty to me in the years we’ve been together. But society says ‘oh you’re Bipolar’ so it’s okay.”
Yeah, it’s society’s fault that the person chose to stay in an abusive, terrible relationship for decades. Being mentally ill is just a bucket of blowjobs! That’s why we have high suicide rates, rates of homelessness, and dysfunctional lives. I can totally do whatever I want and absolutely won’t end up in jail or homeless as a result!
No, society didn’t make it permissible. The enabling partner in that relationship made it permissible. That shit is just weak reasoning to justify their own poor choices. You don’t want to divorce an abusive person that has zero desire to get better because that’s “just not what we were raised to do”? That’s not society’s fault, that’s your fault. Marriage is a contract – to love, honor, and respect one’s partner. An abusive party breaches their part of their contract. No one should feel obligated to stay in an abusive relationship because of what they think their God or other people will think.
Who gives a rat’s ass if the intangible concept of “society” doesn’t like what you do? They aren’t living your life! And please kill the “God put this into my life as a test” garbage. Yeah, your God created you for the sole purpose of being here to suffer another person’s abuses. If that were true, then your God must have created the abusive partner solely to be here to treat you like shit – which is a little fucked up.
And guess what? Putting up with that shit, enabling that person to act that way by not holding them responsible when appropriate, makes it harder for them to actually recover. You continuously demonstrate that “hey, it’s perfectly okay for you to treat me like complete shit and I will keep coming back for more!” Why in the fuck would they ever think they NEED to change? That they cannot continue to conduct their life as they are?
That’s not society’s fault. That’s not society’s choice. That’s the enabler’s choice. So don’t play the victim card after decrying the use of the victim card. You have no one to blame but yourself if you choose to stay in that situation.
Does that mean we blindly act without compassion? No. My rule of thumb is simple. If the person is actively trying and just failing horribly, then I’m on their side. It’s that simple. Is the person trying? Or are they just coasting and dragging you through their shittiness? I have and will continue to go through a lot of shit for people that are genuinely trying to better themselves.
And I get accused of “not being on the side of mentally ill people” on a fairly regular basis as well. You’re right, I’m not! I’m on the side of what is fair. It is unreasonable to expect a “free pass” on shit behavior when you’re not willing to visit a therapist or doc, take the meds, and work to be well. It is unreasonable to expect ANYONE to have a bottomless well of patience, kindness, and understanding when you don’t do anything to better your situation.
A major goal in my advocacy work is to help mentally ill people preserve and improve the lives they have; to keep that well from drying up completely and that relationship from dying. To do so, we MUST acknowledge the suffering we inflict on our loved ones as just as important, just as severe as our own – because it fucking is.
Life isn’t fair or “balanced”. Stop acting like it is, like you’re absolutely powerless to do anything because of what “society” deems or what you “feel”. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean they are any good for you. You always have a choice. It’s just not always a good one.
The situation is not special or unique. Millions of other people around the world have gone through or go through similar. Acting like you don’t have a choice, then blaming intangible entities and concepts is playing the victim card just as much the person who blames their mental illness and does nothing to help themselves.
Spent decades in a terrible, abusive relationship with a toxic mentally ill person? Have a cookie. Now quit blaming everyone else for your choices and do something about it.
I sincerely hope that comes off as condescending as I think it sounds…
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