Crazy Jay and I were talking last night about mental illness. He has been having a hard time lately dealing with the merry-go-round of thoughts that is speeding faster and faster in his head. And it doesn’t help when all the intense, ever-changing emotions are thrown in there, too. What a lovely little cocktail of craziness. I told him that I thought he wouldn’t struggle so much and he would have an easier time accepting things if he did some research on his handful of disorders (PTSD, Bipolar, Borderline Personality Disorder…and maybe more). I have told him in the past it would be beneficial if he did some research and learned about the issues he has. I have noticed that he will either change the subject, or give reasons as to why he can’t/won’t/doesn’t feel like looking these things up online. I called him on it, and he said that he feels like if he better understood PTSD, bipolar, and BPD, he would just use them as excuses for his behaviors, feelings, thoughts, perceived weakness, etc.
It all suddenly made sense. Jay has been telling me that he thinks I use my BPD as a license to do and say whatever I want, regardless of who it hurts. Now, a lot of times when I do something crazy, I WILL mention the BPD. I’m not using it as an excuse. Just an explanation. Someone “normal” could look at my behavior and wonder what in the world is wrong with me. I’m glad to at least have an answer. LMCAO I know the reason for my nutty, irrational, erratic behavior. It’s my mental disorder. That may not even be correct. It’s my PERSONALITY disorder. I’m not sure if those two are the same thing. Anyway, I was telling Jay that it was irresponsible of him to know that he had these issues and disorders, but to not really know ABOUT them. One with mental issues knows that there are things going on with them, but they can’t adapt to a life with mental illness if they don’t know what part of their thoughts and behaviors are considered “normal”, and what parts are considered “crazy”.
If a person knows that they have weaknesses, it doesn’t make sense to try to live your life as if there is nothing wrong. It just flat out will not work. You will become frustrated and begin feeling hopeless. I know that I did. Before I accepted that I have borderline personality disorder and all that entails, I felt like nothing would ever get better. Not only would things not get better, but I felt like it was all my fault that they didn’t get better! I went through each and every day feeling like a piece of shit. I knew by other people’s reactions that what I was doing was hurtful and wrong, but I was unable to change it. I thought that by my sheer will power I could change my thinking patterns and my behavior. When I couldn’t MAKE myself change, I sunk into a deeper depression and became suicidal. Now, don’t get me wrong. Each person is responsible for their actions. If they behave in a way that is unacceptable to society at large, it is up to them to do what they can to better themselves and correct their misbehavior. I am responsible for using the skills I have learned in dialectical behavioral therapy. I know that one of my weaknesses is that I shoot off at the mouth whatever I’m thinking (unless I’m in work mode, then I’m a doormat). I am responsible for being careful of what I say and how I say it. Acknowledging ones weaknesses, disabilities, deficiencies, etc. does not mean that that person is not responsible for what they do and say. Having a mental illness does not give one a free pass to be an asshole to everyone they meet.
Compare the mental limitations to a person with physical limitations. If a man has a severe back injury, he needs to keep in mind that there are certain things he just cannot do without doing further damage to himself. He can’t go around lifting heavy boxes. He may be restricted as to what weight lifting exercises he can attempt. He may not be able to spend hours bent over a sink full of dishes. People with physical handicaps know what their limits are. They are aware of their restrictions. Though they can’t use their physical disability as an excuse for bad behavior. A paraplegic can’t roll over a young child’s toes with their wheelchair and then say it’s ok because they can’t walk. A person cannot use their limitations as an excuse, but they must be aware of them in order to live a productive life.
I was explaining it to Jay like this: Having a mental illness/personality disorder/mental issues/whatever is like seeing the world through pink-tinted glasses. As long as you keep in mind that you are wearing pink glasses, you will know that what you see and what you take in may or may not be reality. If you’re wearing tinted glasses and look at the clouds, just remember you’re wearing those glasses. You don’t look at the clouds and think how awesome it is that all the clouds of the world are pink. You KNOW that you are seeing things through a slightly skewed perspective, and you can adjust your thoughts/beliefs/feelings/actions accordingly. If you go through life wearing these bright pink glasses but not acknowledging that you are wearing glasses, the things that you perceive as reality will not be the same reality as other people see.
As a person with a mental illness, it is important for me to remember that I see things through a different filter than everyone else does. What I see may not make sense to another person. What I see probably won’t be what someone else sees. And that’s ok. It’s ok that I don’t interpret things the same way as everyone else. It’s ok that I may feel things more intensely than other people. It’s ok that I am more sensitive than most people. What is NOT ok is for me to ignore these limitations and challenges that I face. It is NOT ok for me to forget that I am seeing the world through a filter. It is NOT ok for me to think what I am experiencing is what everyone else is experiencing, and therefore I am excused in behaving poorly or in a hurtful way. I need to remember that I am wearing pink glasses, and stop thinking that the sky is purple, or the clouds are rose colored. As long as I keep it in the forefront of my mind that my perspective is a little bent and change my behavior accordingly, I might just be able to get through each day without dropping bombs on the person and dog that I love.