Let’s talk about responsibility

“Responsibility is accepting that you are the cause and the solution of the matter.”

Anonymous

I remember the moment I eventually realised I was mentally unwell. I had
shouted at my son who was only 2yrs old at the time. When I say “shouted” it
was not the shout a scared parent bellows when they fear for their child’s
life. He didn’t run into traffic. He had made a mess and I really shouted at
him.

I do remember being emotionally exhausted. I had left him with his sister
playing in their bedroom while I was cleaning the house.

I can’t even remember what mess he had made exactly, which is why I feel
even more guilty thinking about it. It wasn’t a big enough deal to stay in my
head but I do remember my reaction which was most likely not in-line with the
act itself.

This was certainly a clue that I was unwell. My reaction to a lot of things
were not in proportion to the events themselves.

Photo by Simran Sood on Unsplash

I realised I was shouting a lot. It was worse at home towards my child and
his dad. The guilt I felt about leaving my daughter when she wasn’t even one
was enough to keep her out of the firing line.

I didn’t shout at my friends or the rest of my family. I held all my anger
deep down when talking to them. Telling them I was tired but hiding how unhappy
I really was.

At work I wasn’t shouting either. Maybe I knew I would have probably lost my
job. However, I was rarely in a good mood. I laughed with my colleagues over
bad jokes and joined in conversations. From their perspective, I’m not sure I
made it obvious that anything unusual was going on. They probably and naturally
assumed I was ok if just a little moody.

This is why mental illness can be tricky. Sometimes the person going through
it doesn’t even realise it’s happening and when they do, it is possible to hide
it from most of the people around them.

Many people who have a mental illness without diagnosis will not accept
responsibility for their actions as their actions are just a consequence for
something else.

Unfortunately, those who have a diagnosis but haven’t been given the right
support, whether that’s access to therapy or medication, still continue to
evade responsibility. It can become very easy to blame mental illness for your
behaviour.

However, if you have that diagnosis, it soon becomes your responsibility to
ensure you do everything you can to improve it.

Sadly our NHS services do not have enough funding for physical healing but
you know if you go to A&E with a broken leg, it’s highly likely you will
not leave that hospital until you’ve had it confirmed with an X-ray and most
likely had your leg put into a cast.

With mental illness however, a diagnosis isn’t always that straightforward.
Sometimes it is but the remedy, whether in medication or therapy, isn’t always
straightforward either.

However, once we’re aware we’re unwell, we not only have a responsibility to
ourselves but also those around us. Illness makes it difficult for us to
control the triggers that set us off, but we do need to work hard on how we
respond to them. Anyone who has experienced CBT will be aware of this. It’s all
about reframing the situation and not focussing too much on the bad.

There are people however who want to feel good but can’t. Ask for support but don’t get it. Want to recover and work really hard to get their life back on track but struggle. Keep talking. If you have no one willing to listen, try out any of the resources on this site. Someone is always willing to hear you out. 

Sometimes, its hard to know when we’re not well. Even when we’re being told. 

Thinking back, I have a sister who is two years younger than me. We grew up
together and loved each other’s company until we were teens. I think it’s fair
to say we were not friends throughout these years. However, once we came back
together over 15yrs ago in our 20s, we soon became good friends – best friends
even. We’ve only ever had disagreements but not exactly an argument.

Not too long after me shouting at my son, we fell out. She was genuinely
worried about me as she could see the difference. She knew the real and well me – 
even if I was still in denial.

We fell out as I tried to cover up my pain and was frustrated that she
didn’t believe me. I was angry that she could see what I had unknowingly spent
so long trying to hide.

The fear of falling out with my best friend and the person who knew me
better than anyone else was too much to take. Within days I had explained why I
was so upset and apologised. And although she accepted it, I could see she
wasn’t convinced by the story I was telling us both.

After recovering from mental illness I was finally able to see all of the
ways in which it had affected me. How it had affected my relationships and how
it changed the dynamic of my family.

The minute I started to get better, I was able to take responsibility for my
own actions and behaviour. I made a lot more apologies than I normally would have.

Even when arguments happen or can happen, I am in much more control of my
own reaction to it. It’s easy to state you can’t control how someone behaves
but you are in complete control of how you respond and react to it – even if it
takes some serious work.

The moment you realise you can reframe everything, it gets easier.

Recently, I met an incredible man called James Brett. I won’t give you too
much backstory as if you get the chance to see this man speak, I urge you to
take that offer. James has had one of the most difficult starts in life, abuse,
the suicide of his own mother, crime and cancer to name but a few. However, this
man takes all of the anger he feels for the wrong in his life and focuses that
energy in a really positive way. Check out his website to see what I mean.

He talked about feeling lucky to be alive. He takes solace in the moments he
has to wait. He doesn’t allow the stresses of life to get the better of him.

My life has been easy in comparison to James’.

I know, its all relevant, however, if a man who has gone through so much darkness can find light, I’m sure there is hope for us all. If we have hope, we have something.

Take responsibility for what you do. If you can’t, take responsibility for
how you handle it and always be accountable for what happens next.  

Published by Em@InsanelyNormal

I am Em, the Author of Insanely Normal. A mother of two, a marketer and copywriter and huge advocate for normalising the conversations around mental health.

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