This is kind of a tough topic to write about. I’m going to discuss being held accountable while having a mental illness. I know that I am walking a very fine line when I say that there were times that I, as a mentally ill person, needed a healthy dose of tough love from my friends and family. Fortunately, I have friends and family that know me well enough that they know when I’m using my illness as an excuse for when I could be doing better.
Being mentally ill myself, I completely realize that not all mentally ill individuals would fare well at all under the tough love approach, especially when applied hap hazard. I am not advocating hap hazard approach to tough love with anyone. I am saying that there are some of us who can handle such a thing, in the right manner applied at the right time. It is a fine line to walk and should be applied only when a support person (whether it be family or friends or counselors, etc.) knows the mentally ill individual extremely well and knows when it will work. It is far from an exact science. I would go as far as saying it’s like raising children, knowing that some things work with one of your kids but doesn’t work at all with another.
Fortunately, it is possible to hold someone accountable without resorting to tough love. Tough love should be used only as a last resort. But use with caution and always use with healthy doses of love.
My bouts with schizophrenia and depression made the going in college and the first few years of work extremely rough. There were times that I just wanted to quit on the idea of being able to work. But with people like my parents, my friends, my psych doctor, my counselors at college and later when I was working, and my extended family, I had plenty of people holding me accountable.
Support people are not there just to be a shoulder to cry on. They are also there to administer a healthy dose of discipline and tough love when necessary. And there are times when tough love is necessary for even the mentally ill if we are to improve our current situations. We have to be held accountable like everyone else, sometimes even more so. I am sure there are many times I didn’t make things easy for my support people at all by my actions and bizarre behavior.
Had I not had a counselor to meet with once a week while in college to help keep me grounded and focused, I probably would not have graduated college. I certainly wouldn’t have done as well in my classes as I did. And that is simply because I knew I had someone who was going to ride my case if I didn’t do the job in classes.
Had my friends and family not encouraged me through occasional tough love, I would not have tried several different jobs before I finally I found a job I could do that I was good at and that didn’t cause me much stress. I may not have been working my dream job, but I had the discipline to stick to a job for over four years had my friends and family not challenged me to keep looking for work when I was ready to throw in the towel.
I didn’t like the tough love approach at the time it was being applied. The thing is, it’s not supposed to be liked; it’s supposed to motivate you to do good things with your life. Sure I as a mentally ill individual could just mope for the rest of my days about what I have lost? But what does that gain me?
Sure you are mentally ill or may know someone who is mentally ill? But what are you going to do about it now? Are you going to learn about the illnesses and try to better yourself? Or are you just going to drift through life? The choice is yours.
That hit really close to home! Recently when confronted with some serious lies, my mentally ill 13 year old told us he didn’t think about others and their feelings or anything else when he lied. I told him that if he ever wanted to get by in the “real world”, he better at least start to fake like he cared about someone other than himself!
Sad to hear that your son is having such problems with mental illness at such a young age. There are times when we as mentally ill people do have to realize that our actions have serious effects on others, especially if those actions are threatening and hurtful to others. I admit that when I am being held accountable by others, I do best when I know and am informed that it is being done out of love and compassion. As a mentally ill person, I have to know that anything a friend/loved one/etc. does is not done out of anger or spite. The tough love route is a very fine line to walk, but often one that needs to be walked none the less. Too bad there is no magic formula when trying to hold anyone accountable, let alone us mentally ill.
It’s hard to know how much to push someone. When we do push it’s because we care and we think it’s for the best. We just want to help, even when we do the wrong thing. Thanks for sharing your story.
Well, hard and fast rules as when to push and not to push simply don’t exist. It all depends on the person and what is going on at the moment.