I remember hearing from my Dad (I love my Daddy, he does everything for us and everyone else!) after I was diagnosed, “Kristen, don’t use depression as an excuse.” I would respond with, “It’s not an excuse, it’s the reason.” I understand what he was saying but even know I’m unsure how to separate an excuse and a reason when it comes to a mental illness.
A diagnosis can be a relieving thing to receive. I remember I was very excited to be able to tell people that I was sad all the time, cutting, binge drinking and being reckless because I was sick. Unfortunately it didn’t make things better for me.
Am I using depression as an excuse why I need an extra day to finish an assignment for school?
Am I using depression as an excuse when I don’t go to school for a few days because I can’t get out of bed?
Am I using depression as an excuse when I get angry with others and lash out negatively?
Or is depression the reason why these things happen too me?
This may have contributed into my current attitude of not letting my emotional states stop me. I don’t want to use them as an excuse as to why I can’t do anything. This does not mean that it always works out. Those same emotions that can be seen as an “excuse” are usually the reason why I can’t do something, why I need to do something differently or why I need help from others to complete the task.
I have experienced both ends of the spectrum. I have met people who think I’m all excuses and people who think I’m all reason. Oddly enough there is damage done when people believe our mental health issue is the reason you say, do and think everything.
This is when you begin to feel invalid.
I once had a “friend” explain to me that she knew I had a mental health issue so she was going to take that into consideration as to why I was mad at her. Ummmm thanks but NO! Why I was mad at her had NOTHING to do with a mental health issue but EVERYTHING to do with the fact that she had betrayed my trust!
To have everything about you blamed on a mental health issue leads you and everyone else to question who you are as a person.
Am I really angry?
Am I really sad?
Am I the one ruining my relationships?
You lose your agency. You lose you ability to react and be in a way that you want to be because there is always second guessing as to if it is you or if it is your illness.
There needs to be a middle. I’m not even sure how that middle would work but there needs to be a level of understanding that someone can have a mental health issue but still think, feel and behave for themselves. There is a “dictation” so to speak of emotion and behaviour, something that feel out of our control, and that needs to be understood and coping methods need to be taught so we can feel more in control in our out of control moments.
I’m still figuring out how to do this. I am currently in a situation of where I need to be understanding but don’t want to be. It is difficult but not impossible.