This is a sensitive topic and so I waited for as long as I did to take an apparently ‘controversial’ stand on it. Let me get a few things out of the way:
I am a mental health advocate – Have been since before I even knew the right term for it.
My sister is a psychologist so any of the misconceptions or stereotypes I may have had surrounding mental health over the years have been corrected right away (and I am so very glad about it).
I have faced my own struggles (still do) and been to therapy.
I have had too many people I care about go through severe mental health crisis – depression, suicidal tendencies, etc.
I am stating these facts so you know I understand the need for mental health awareness, advocacy, therapy, and support. And because of exactly that I am motivated to write this.
Things that are not justified because of your ‘mental health’
I am going to be using ‘you’ in this list. I mean it in a general sense and I am not pointing to you as in the reader. Please don’t mind that xx
1. Ghosting someone you have intimately known for years and years
There’s nuance in everything so let me address that. This doesn’t apply if someone is in an abusive relationship. This also doesn’t apply if they are in a state where they cannot or do not want to function like they normally would – social life, work, etc.
However, if someone is going on about their life as usual but choose to ghost one specific person and throw around the “mental health” card, I swear to god they are doing something very vile. Mental health issues need advocacy and awareness. But if idiots like such people see it as a convenient way to avoid confrontations and cut people off from their life then they are not just doing that person but every mental health advocate a great disservice.
2. Cutting someone out of your life because they violate a boundary you never communicated
Please set boundaries. We all need to do that for our well-being. But setting boundaries requires communication. If someone doesn’t communicate that and expects the other person to suddenly be aware of the changes they want to bring forth in the relationship, then that’s unfair.
You can’t get mad at the other person and then go get the scissors to chop chop when they keep violating a new boundary you made up in your mind and never bothered to inform them of the same. To them it doesn’t exist! Especially if you have spent years knowing each other not having that specific boundary. So then for the other person it’s just normal behaviour. They are not going to wake up one day and know that you want things to be different now. Unless you speak up and share.
3. Expecting someone to drop everything and be on your beck and call.
Typically, I’d say if you are close to someone and they know that you are struggling, this should be a given – they should support you and be there for you.
However, everyone has mental health. Just like everyone has physical health. It’s health. We all are at different levels of health at different times. So it’s very possible that even they are going through some stuff that’s difficult for them. So for you to ignore what they are struggling with and expect them to be your knight in shinning armour 100% of the time is not only an unfair ask but also selfish behaviour on your part.
4. Using serious terms loosely
I have heard a dozen friends say they are depressed or have depression even when they haven’t actually got a clinical diagnosis. I know that you don’t always need a diagnosis to know. It’s our mind and body. Sometimes we just know before the doctors even tell us.
But see these people are the kinds who bring up such serious claims when it’s convenient for them. They use it to manipulate situations and people.
They are exactly the kind of people that harm mental health advocacy. It’s because of people like this I see so many others not actually understanding or willing to understand what a serious issue mental illness is.
5. Mental health issues do not wash away your inherent shitty personality
Look, I understand that if someone is dealing mental health issues, their behaviour and their needs change. They may not be the same person anymore. That’s understandable, of course.
However, if you have always been a narcissistic, selfish, and insecure person – even before when you were doing okay – then your narcissistic, selfish and insecure behaviour cannot be excused now just because you are dealing with something. It’s not cause and effect in this case.
Is it possible that such behaviour is highlighted in such times? I suppose so. But to blame all your short comings on whatever mental health issues you’re dealing with is very problematic.
6. Not taking accountability/responsibility
Okay. You are struggling. Now what? Why don’t you try to figure out how to deal with this, how to address it. Why don’t you try to communicate what you need from your social support system to get better? Why don’t you try to seek professional help. I get that it’s not always accessible or affordable. But the people I have in mind are privileged in every sense.
They just don’t want to take any accountability for their actions or words and when confronted will point mental health issues like a gun to your face and make you the bad guy.
Did this feel like a rant?
Well, when I was at the receiving end of such problematic behaviour at 16 I didn’t get it. I didn’t get how I was being manipulated. Now at 24, I see it as clear as day. And I am done with it. So I am calling it out.
Has this ever happened with you? If yes, how did you navigate this situation?