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The Line Between Forgiveness and Bitterness: When People Don’t Accept Your Mental Illness


Letting go is hard. I’d argue it borders on impossible. I’ve advanced closer, waded somewhere in the middle and regressed. I’ve had one limb in forgiveness, one in bitterness and a third in embarrassment. I just don’t think I can say I’ve let it all go. I know I can’t say it.

What I’m talking about is my heartache, people I’ve been hurt by (whether intentional or not) and painful memories. Sometimes, I’ll go through long stretches without thinking about any of it, which is nice. Yet, other times I’ll be laying in my bed or driving in my car and an old memory resurfaces, from however many years ago, to taunt me or to remind me I should be embarrassed. I’ve repressed a lot of memories, but eventually almost all return.

This past weekend was the anniversary of a painful time in my life two years ago. Today, I’m so grateful and happy with where and who I am, but I cannot help but feel a searing pain when I look back. I’ve held grudges. I truly have forgiven myself and other people for some things. Other things, if I’m being honest with myself, I haven’t. It’s not because I don’t want to.

The most prominent memories entail embarrassment, frustration, confusion, rejection and being out of my own control. At the time, I felt like no one wanted to be associated with Laura Hogan, the girl who had “lost it” after her senior year of high school.

I kept hearing this message preached that, “It’s OK to struggle, and life is going to be hard. You’re going to need to ask people for help so they can walk through it with you.” From these same people, I found my struggle was too much.

You can hurt, but it needs to be an acceptable kind of hurting. You can struggle, but it needs to be with gossiping too much, being impatient with God’s plan, being too selfish with your time, not feeling His presence enough or not getting asked to the dance. It cannot be that you are battling a mental illness you didn’t know you had.

That’s what I learned from them. I’m not talking about one group of people, but a group at large. Do I think I’ve been there perfectly and every time for other people’s struggles? No, I don’t think so.

However, I was absolutely amazed by the lack of empathy I received from so many people back then. At the time, I thought it might be deserved, but looking back I’m just angry. Not the kind of angry that makes someone want to be violent, but the kind that puts up walls and sheds a lot of tears.

I’m still learning to let go.

“Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5

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