Is it easier to blame our behaviour on our mental health problems than to take responsibility?

Discussion in 'Strategies for Success' started by Butterfly, May 14, 2016.

  1. Butterfly

    Butterfly Sim Addict Staff Alumni SF Author SF Supporter

    Please do not read if you are easily offended or triggered.

    I realise that the majority of us here on this forum will have diagnosed and undiagnosed mental health problems. Many of us will have had terrible things happen to us in our past that have traumatised us that shape the person who we are today. We will have made many bad choices and bad decisions because of the state of our mental health. Many of us will be depressed and suicidal with little or no motivation to do even the most basic of tasks. Many of us will be too anxious to even leave the house. Some of us may be addicted to substances such as alcohol and drugs (legal or illegal). Some of us may be jobless and in debt because we are too depressed to do anything about it. Some of us may have had highs or psychosis that have caused us to engage in risky behaviours, spend loads of money and make really poor life decisions. Our mental health problems are the root cause of these problems, but at what point do we stop blaming our mental health problems and start taking responsibility for our own actions and illness??

    I have been in some messes over the years and I have learned harder than most that until I change, nothing will change. How many of us are truly honest with our care providers about how we feel and how we have behaved? I see many people on this forum and others complain about how their doctors and therapists "aren't listening" but on further probing they actually haven't been entirely honest with them. I have been guilty of this myself as I am sure many here have been. Unfortunately our doctors have not mastered the art of mind reading so until we can be totally honest about how we are feeling and our symptoms then our doctors cannot help us and inevitably nothing will change or help.

    How many of us complain that we are too depressed because our lives are going nowhere but are too "depressed" to do anything about it? It is a vicious circle that feels crippling and paralysing. I have been here too and I have felt completely helpless. Feeling completely helpless about your life is a terrible position to be in and has been the main source of my depression and suicidal thoughts for years. I have felt helpless for many reasons. I have felt helpless about things that have happened in my past. I have felt powerless because I can't change what happened and seemingly felt powerless because I thought I would be this terrible, depressed person forever and that things would never change. Some of that is true. If I had continued on the path I was on then it would be almost certain that nothing would change. The path of self-pity, self-loathing and helplessness would have been a one way ticket to suicide. Was my depression and bipolar disorder my fault? No it wasn't. Were the things that happened in my past my fault? Very unlikely. Was it unfair that I was suffering in the worst way possible? Yes, it most definitely was. None of it was fair. Why should I have to work twice as hard as anyone else in order to simply function? Why do I have to work twice as hard as anyone else to leave the house? Why do I have to put in such hard work to keep my mental health in check when many of the problems I face were caused by hurt I suffered at the hands of others? These are all legitimate questions that I used to ask myself several times a day. At times it seemed much easier to give up and give in to the depression. But until I changed, nothing would change.

    I see many people in real life, on this forum and other forums try and shirk responsibility for their actions. One girl I know IRL claims she has Bipolar and BPD. She is very explosive and blames everything on her mental illnesses. For an example of what I mean, a little while ago she arranged a night out with her friends. She got very drunk, starting yelling abuse at her friends and upset them all and tried to hit one of them. Prior to this she has been fine and feeling stable. But when she had to face the consequences she blamed her behaviour on her Bipolar. Her Bipolar "made her do it". This is a load of bollocks. The truth is that it had nothing to do with her Bipolar. She got too drunk, couldn't handle her drink and started behaving like and asshole. The outcome would have been the same whether she had mental illness or not.

    I see people blaming what's happened in the past as an excuse not to move on. There are obstacles for sure and it's easier said than done. I see people trying to find and almost "imagining" things happening to them in the past as an excuse for the way they are now and as an excuse not to move on. I see people asking advice on how to change their situation but do not act on the advice they are given, end up in hospital several times to come out and realise that the advice they were given in the first place is what is going to help them feel better. There is a lot of needless suffering that goes on. Depression is a hard slog for sure. It is hard living with depression and mental health problems, but it is much easier to continue being depressed than trying to change your situation.

    Egg119, Jenumbra, Shagarath and 2 others like this.
  2. Butterfly

    Butterfly Sim Addict Staff Alumni SF Author SF Supporter

    How can you change a terrible situation? How can you change the past? How can you change the way others treat you? The honest truth is that you can't. You can only moderate yourself and the way you choose to be. How can you change? Well that is personal to each person. For me, honesty was important. Not just with my doctors and therapists, but being honest to myself. I had spent so long in denial about everything and I took no responsibility for my behaviour. It was easier to blame everyone else than face up to things myself. Once I acknowledged my behaviours and "safety" behaviours I was in a position to look at changing them.

    Another important thing for me was continuing to go to work. Most days I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning. But giving myself reason and purpose was important. Most days it would have been easier to phone in sick, stay in bed which would not have been productive. I would have lost my job causing my depression to further itself. The abuse I gave myself trying to get out of bed in the morning could be horrendous. I wanted to hide and cry, but I did it. I had to. It wasn't easy. It was an arduous task, absolutely terrible but I had to do it. Routine is exceptionally important in recovery and self care. Even if you don't have a job, start with simple tasks such as getting up at the same time every morning, making breakfast, showering etc. Routine is boring, but necessary in recovery.

    Recognising early warning signs was important for me. Recognising my warning symptoms for both depression and mania has caused me a lot of heartache and suffering. It allows me to act before things get out of control. I can take my PRN meds, resort to emergency self care measures and speak to my doctor in time before things get out of control and I resort to those self-destructive behaviours that have made recovery so long and difficult. I used to be in denial over my early warning signs. I thought that ignoring them would make things disappear but unfortunately things don't work like that.

    Another thing that has helped me is self-compassion. It is difficult when you feel nothing but hatred for yourself. But acknowledging that your suffering is not your fault and that it's understandable to feel the way you do helps you to treat yourself with kindness. I often write myself compassionate letters to read for when I am in a bad patch, to remind myself of the times when things weren't so bad and that the won't always be bad. Compassionate imagery and daily mindfulness can also ease the intensity of the depression.

    It sounds so cliché but balanced diet and exercise can also do wonders for depression. When you lack motivation it is easy to fall into the slump of eating junk foods and not moving position for hours on end but at the same time those junk foods make you feel sluggish and not want to do anything. I am beginning to tackle this now after 5 months of stability and I feel a lot more energised.

    Being compliant with medication is especially important. I am one of the WORST people for medication compliance. But I have been compliant enough to now be off meds completely for 5 months and remaining stable. I have PRN meds for if I need them. Your doctor isn't prescribing meds for the sake of it. You are telling them your symptoms and those pills are going to help ease those symptoms enough for you to be able to deal with whatever it is you need to deal with. So many people stop taking them after 4 weeks and say they aren't helping. You need consistence and time and titration. And the important thing to remember is, pills aren't going to make your problems go away, but they can ease your symptoms enough to be able to deal with them.

    Developing health coping mechanisms is especially important. Some of my favourite things to do are write, colour, play video games, watch movies and tv series, mindfulness and run myself a bath. Most people feel frustrated when they call the crisis team and they tell them to "run a bath" or "practice deep breathing". It's not to shirk responsibility but try to encourage you to engage in self-management to try and calm yourself down in a crisis. Many people whinge about this, but how many of us here have taken their advice and been able to tell the story the next day without self-harming, attempting or being admitted. Self-care is hard and it is a lengthy learning process. You may trip up at times, but if you continue to practice these techniques it can help prevent a crisis.

    Those are the things that I find important to ensure good self-care and taking responsibility for my own illness. Am I cured? No I am not. I have to take my PRN meds sometimes when I feel something coming on but I am in a place where I can recognise things getting out of control. Will I relapse? More than likely. I fully expect to but my goal is to extend periods between relapses and minimise the intensity of an episode. Am I an expert? Not by any means. I get things wrong sometimes and it takes a lot of practice to be able to manage my own symptoms. I still have self-destructive moments, but I am working on those

    I never thought I would achieve stability without meds for this long but it has been possible through good self-care and management. When I learned to take responsibility for my illness was when I noticed change within myself and started to regain control of my life.
    Petal, Jenumbra, Flying Fox and 4 others like this.
  3. Freya

    Freya Loves SF Staff Member ADMIN SF Author

    I think that there are lot of very valid points here and that it is one of the hardest things to hear. There are many many times I don't take responsibility for my life and if someone says to me "if you want things to change you have to change them" or "you need to take responsibility" I am suddenly 10 years old again and fighting an "I don't WANT to, its not FAIR" hissy fit in my brain. The fact is that a lot of the time I don't want to, and I do believe its not fair. I want to stamp my feet and kick a chair over and yell at people that they have no idea what its like and that I am trying my best - doing my best with the shitty hand I have been dealt.

    I get angry - I hate the 'happy and successful people' - I cry - I wallow - I give myself excuses. And the biggest excuse I can find for myself at any time is "well I am always going to be depressed and miserable and always going to want to die so there isn't any point trying". And its bullshit. Yes, for sure, it stops me from having to do anything about my life, because it would be "pointless" - it means I don't have to try harder, be in uncomfortable situations, deal with people who don't like me or things I don't want to do or make me anxious. But its still bullshit. I struggle every day with making good choices for myself (I really think that comes with the territory when you largely hate yourself) and I think that is the problem for so many people here - the belief that they don't deserve better. That's bullshit too. Everyone deserves better. Nobody deserves to spend their lives feeling like shit.

    It is just really hard to remember that when you're having your ass kicked by depression, anxiety and/or whatever else you might have lurking in your brain lying to you.

    I agree with Butterfly - what helps is "doing it anyway". I firmly believe that vastly unpleasant as work can be, it is the #1 best thing you can do for your mental health after getting proper medical treatment. It sometimes feels like its impossible and certainly in the beginning it feels like it 'makes it worse' - but structure and purpose and having to get your arse out of bed every day is the best thing by far for feeling like shit about your life. I used to think that was just me but I have talked to enough people on here who were adamant they could not work until they did - and found out that working made them feel 100 times better.

    I read a blog, not long ago, where the guy was talking about "doing what needed to be done". If depression won't let you feel joy or feel satisfaction right now - stop expecting things to bring you joy or satisfaction but do them anyway. Because you deserve a better life, and every day you lie in bed or play video games all day or even sit in chat here for 10 hours straight, you're actually making it worse.


    I know it sometimes feels like you do. I know for myself that I frequently feel like I deserve it if my life goes to shit. But the good things you do for yourself now are the foundation of the better life you will have later. It isn't a cure or a quick fix - but if you start today, in a year you will have come so far you won't even recognise yourself - and it won't feel like you're changing anything - it will feel hard and annoying and pointless (and some days you will stay in bed all day because that is the nature of the beast) but in increments you will be moving toward the life you deserve to have - the life you CAN have.

    If you don't start - you will get to a year down the line and things will not be the same - they will be worse. It will be harder. And you do not deserve worse or harder.

    I write this as much as a reminder to myself to get off my arse and do the things I know I should do and do not.

    And to every person that got up today - got dressed - and did something good for themselves - I salute you. For everyone that didn't - there is still time left in the day. DO something. Even if its something tiny. Start.
    Flying Fox, Brian777 and Khvde like this.
  4. Khvde

    Khvde Well-Known Member

    Well I agree and disagree with you at the same time.
    It is not all black and white. It is not like you are either blaming things on your mental health or taking responsibility. I think it is a mixture of both behaviours.
    Of course there are people who blames their actions on mental problems more than taking responsibility.
    I also used to have a friend who says she is bipolar. She was a bad person and she was acting like her being bipolar makes her bad behaviour OK and she was acting like others were manipulating her.

    You know how egotistic people thinks others are jelaous of them. She was the one who is very manipulative but always acted like others were villans. :D
    Flying Fox and Brian777 like this.
  5. sunnypseudo

    sunnypseudo Well-Known Member

    Thank you Butterfly for posting this. I know I have a martyr complex, as it is easier to blame others for letting them make the decisions for me instead of facing fact that I let them. I also attempt in terrible ways to compensate for lack of control. I've been saying out loud for months now that I do not want excuses for my bad behavior. I focus on my own patterns instead of the patterns I have watched in others. Their patterns around me won't change until I do. No, I don't ever expect life to be roses, or that I will even be liked, but if I am confident then the human race makes little difference in my personal perceptions.

    I have a feeling this thread will strike many nerves with a lot of people, but I hope some of it will sink in.

    For us, life will always be difficult. Though I think it's important to realize that life is difficult for all people. Everyone has a battle, even if they haven't dealt with the cards we have been given.

    The things we all suggest to one another to help with coping with bad times are never blanket solutions, we are all just trying to share what we think may help. Thanks to PTSD, I can't shower or bathe as a form of relaxation for example, but music and talking do work for me. This also does not mean I avoid the bathroom altogether because there is something to be said about fake it till you make it.
    Flying Fox, Brian777 and Freya like this.
  6. Acy

    Acy Mama Bear - TLC, Common Sense Staff Member Safety & Support

    My therapist ALWAYS said, "Do it anyway. Keep moving, or you're dead in the water." It was hard advice to accept. As soon as I REALLY REALLY REALLY took it to heart, a lot of things improved hugely. It didn''t solve everything, but it sure opened doors to new situations that were more pleasant, happy, productive and satisfying. One good thing often helps us build into another good thing, until we have a nice network of good things - maybe "alongside" of the bad stuff. But it is so wonderful to have some good and it took my agreeing to do things anyway to get there.

    Life will always toss us good and bad. They do not "balance" all the time. But the good things are not less good because of the bad, and the bad is easier to cope with if we are doing things to let in the good.

    Just my thoughts. Nothing is perfect or permanent in life - at least not to my knowledge. It's nice to grab the good when it comes along. :)
  7. SillyOldBear

    SillyOldBear Teddy Bear Fanatic Staff Alumni

    Lexi, you are so right about all of this. We can't just rely on doctors and meds to make our life work. We have to put our own time and effort into it. Make changes ourselves. I learned to hate myself when very young. That is not what my parents were trying to teach, but tis what I learned and have yet to unlearn. It can be very hard to be compassionate towards yourself. And bad foods are horrible for you. I have pretty much trashed my digestive system and struggle every day to eat even just a bit better.

    And I totally agree with Lu regarding the importance of work. Every day. Even if you hate it. It is still something to get up for. It provides income and a way to care for yourself.

    I do need to note that making these changes is very difficult. We may be absolutely miserable with depression, anxiety, bipolar, or whatever illnesses we are dealing with. But we know them. They are familiar. We are not familiar with happiness or loving ourselves. That make those scary. That makes the change harder. It is easier to be miserable with the familiar then risk change to something we don't know.
    Flying Fox, Brian777 and Freya like this.
  8. Brian777

    Brian777 Safety and Support SF Artist SF Supporter

    Good post Lexi, I needed to hear and be reminded of these things.
  9. Butterfly

    Butterfly Sim Addict Staff Alumni SF Author SF Supporter

    Thought I'd just bump this post. I have had to re-read this myself to remind me of the importance of the points mentioned.
    Unknown_111 likes this.
  10. Whateverx

    Whateverx Member

    Call me triggered, but this post is BS in my case.

    Because this point is the 1st moment in my life is that I'm allowed a BIT to do something for myself nad it's pretty late in life all things considered. I can't go into details all over again but only scum would tell me to 'take responsibility' for things other people have been doing to me whole life since early childhood and no one helping me despite my asking so. ACTUAL problems, not my mental state which is just 1 among myriad consequences.
  11. SinisterKid

    SinisterKid We either find a way, or make one. SF Supporter

    Fantastic, challenging post which makes some very valid points.

    My first "episode was only March this year, so its still very early days. I am learning some methods that work for me in dealing with all the baggage that comes with mental health issues. I have to get my medication right so that my moods and emotions are more "balanced" before we can progress to more therapy that will hopefully see my condition improve. I know I need to put the work and effort in, just as the services I need to access to get better need to put the time and effort in as well.

    But first and foremost, I am ill, there is no changing that. Its debilitating a lot of the time, so pushing myself to complete, simple, ordinary tasks is hard right now.

    Its going to be a long road to recovery with many ups and downs, hughs and lows. But whats important to me is, I am on that road and I hope I can stay on it for as long as it takes for me to get control back of my life.