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When People 'Justify' Their Mistreatment of You Because of Your Mental Illness

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So I think we can all agree, sometimes we can make really bad choices. Sometimes you might have just been having a crap day. Sometimes those choices are driven by something more complex. But what do you do if someone mistreats you, and says it’s due to your illness?

Having borderline personality disorder (BPD) can make me more prone to not being able to read red flags. So if somebody treats me poorly, I may not always recognize it, until it’s too late. Sometimes I purposely push someone away when I recognize red flags. But the coping skills I use are many times not effective. And may actually make things worse. Many times, this isn’t done by somebody with ill intent. Heck, there have been times a really caring and amazing person blames their actions on me. Sure, most people can say they’ve been blamed for someones else’s choice. But not everyone can say they’ve been blamed because of an illness. I know the way I can act sometimes isn’t OK. I know I’ve done some really awful things when in an episode. But there’s a big difference between “You did something when you were upset that hurt me” and “You being mentally ill is upsetting to me, so me hurting you is your fault.”

When people blame my mental illness, this is what I hear:

“You are unstable, so I can insult you.”

“I felt bad when you were upset, so now I can feel even more upset.”

“I feel you are making a bad choice. So now I can give you unlimited and unsolicited advice on the topic.”

“You are mentally ill, and that inconveniences my life in this way, so how I act is justified.”

“Well you did this during an episode. So I can do it now.”

“Somebody harmed you? Well you do this when you’re upset. So it was probably justified.”

“I feel you are angry, and I wont stop until you stop feeling it.”

“I’m mad at you for doing this, so I can treat you however I want.”

“Your mental illness is a choice. So I’m upset that you aren’t better yet.”

Being given excuses like these repeatedly can wear a person down. It can also make me feel like how others choose to treat me is always my fault.

Let me make this clear. Your mental illness should never be a reason for you to be treated poorly. You may make poor choices at times, but it doesn’t justify somebody’s unkind reactions. Everybody makes bad decisions. You do not deserve to have your actual mental health struggles used as an invalidation of your valid pain.

Having a condition that makes me hypersensitive to emotion makes it extra hard when things like this happen. So many times in the past have I responded with my borderline behaviors. Many times, this fuels the other person’s feelings. I know my illness can encourage me to make choices I wouldn’t always make otherwise. But I also know they were my choices. Another person’s choices are theirs. Individual people decide for themselves. So while my individual decisions can be upsetting and downright harmful to someone, so can theirs. I do not have to exclusively take the blame just because I have a mental illness. I need to take responsibility for what I do and acknowledge I can’t control others. However, I don’t have to stick around if somebody continues to harm me. I am worth more than being seen as a burden. I am worth more than being made to feel like others causing me pain is my fault. I am especially worth having people in my life who care about and support me. My mental health does not exclude me from love.

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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.

Originally published: June 6, 2017
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