Sunday, September 18, 2016

What does it mean to take responsibility for your mental illness?

What does it mean to take responsibility for your mental illness?

Robin Williams understood what it meant to take responsibility for his mental illness. He was very brave to continue a stressful career with the effort he made to maintain a sense of stability.
I think whether a person has a mental illness or not, they are responsible for what they do in life. Taking responsibility gives a person some sense of control of a disability that many times makes you think you can't do it. That disorder is wrong.

By having a mental illness, some may think they have an “easy out” when it comes to their behavior. I’m not one of them. I think, even more so, someone with mental illness should be responsible for his or her behavior.

I wouldn’t expect to be given a free ride in any situation just because I have Bipolar Disorder. I definitely wouldn’t expect someone to excuse my behavior if I chose not to attend a particular social function because I have Social Anxiety Disorder. I would expect to be treated with much more respect than that.

I truly believe that letting a person with mental illness get away with something like the above situation only increases stigma, not reduce it.

I’m a true advocate for those with mental illness and I believe that we should all be treated equal, no matter our mental illness, or any other illness whether it be cancer, diabetes, or fibromyalgia.

Taking responsibility for your mental illness is important in helping improve your self-esteem and confidence.  By increasing our confidence and self-esteem, we are showing the world that we are responsible for our actions. We do not get a “get out of jail” free pass just for having a mental illness.

If you let a person who has a mental illness use their “free pass”, then you are only continuing the stigma surrounding the illness.

We are all functioning members of society. We all function in one form or another. By separating out a portion of the population and not making them responsible for their behavior is increasing the stigma related to that member of society.

As I’ve said before, I have Bipolar Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and OCD, and Panic Attack Disorder and PTSD. But, when I introduce myself to someone, I don’t say, “Hi, I’m Vicki, and I have blah blah and blah and I am also blah blah blah and I suffer from blah and blah.”

Of course I don’t!  I say, “Hi, I’m Vicki, and I’m an author, and a grandmother, and I love my pets.” And, if we sat long enough and talked I would take out pictures and show you my four grandchildren and my dog and my parrot. I would tell you about the books I’ve written and the writing organization I helped found fifteen years ago.

The point is, I am more than my mental illness. We all are more than any illness or disability.  And we should be treated as such.

I am as responsible for my actions as anyone else in public. Whether I have a mental illness or not. To treat me otherwise, would be to increase the stigma surrounding the illness.

Please, if you meet me on the street, let’s talk about my pets or my grandchildren. I’m more than happy to discuss my mental illness with you, but don’t ever excuse me for it. And, especially don't avoid me because of having Bipolar Disorder. 

In reality, you may see me on the street and never know about my mental illness. We’re not all uncontrollable, raving beasts as shown on TV or the news. We’re normal human beings living normal lives.

We are completely trustworthy and responsible. And, we should be treated as such.

You would expect the same from me, wouldn’t you?

If you want to talk about how you can learn to be more than your mental illness, I'm here to listen.

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