On Taking Responsibility for your own Recovery.

Hi everyone,

I have been meaning to write on this blog more but as I’m finding with all planned routines or commitments at the moment I can do them when feeling up to it but as soon as I go down they go down the loo, basically. Does anyone have any advice for this problem? It is a real problem in my day to day life at the moment- how to plan for a mind that is far from stable without constantly having to cancel on people and not sign up for things that require a steady commitment that cannot be flexible- perhaps it is just unavoidable.

I have been struggling more recently and having many incidents that have got me close to hospital admission or emergency services intervention a few times and one day I lashed out at my Mum particularly badly when she was trying to protect me from myself. I have to say I don’t feel the emotion I feel I should when I think back to that, I don’t know why, maybe I’m blocking it but I do get this pit of my stomach feeling of unease- maybe that is guilt or shame I don’t know? Anyway at my next appointment with my DBT therapist he said it had been hard and validated me but then effectively told me to take responsibility and that I’d been unskilful (in terms of DBT) and that was what put me in that situation to begin with. It was a hard pill to swallow. I had been actively suicidal, out of my mind destructive and emotionally unstable enough to take against my own mother and it was my fault.

Taking responsibility or however you’d like to term it, with mental illness is a hard one. It is very easy to take the victim role (and accepted by others once you get to a certain point.) I see images constantly around me saying basically ‘don’t blame me I have a chemical imbalance’ which although may or may not be true implies there is nothing the person can do to help themselves, on the other hand I also see images stating in big cursive letters, usually with a background of people dancing in a field or some apparently ‘normal’ activity, ‘recovery is a choice’ and those make me and many others very angry.

I believe as with everything there is a balance I guess- I don’t know where that point is or where one is being ‘too…’ either way but, for me, as painful as it is to think, my therapist was being fair. There are a lot of things I could and should have done to help the situation, skills I now I have in my toolbox. This said, I only wish I wanted to more- why is it that I still don’t really want to live? I’ve been bumbling along doing what I know rationally I should telling myself all my emotional desires (often destructive or reclusive like going back into hospital) are unwell thoughts and should be avoided and ignored at all costs. However, this only holds up for so long- then I erupt- end up in dangerous situations where I and the people around me suffer extremely. I can’t seem to get a middle ground yet, a way of self acceptance and motivation that fuses the two. Plus, a way of communicating to others and myself that I’m not okay and am desperately unhappy without self destructing to the point of near death. These are clearly areas I need to work through but in the meantime I’m meant to be using the skills I’ve learnt and when I don’t, I get a telling off. And the one thing in all this that I see as positive and only a result of the DBT I’ve been doing is that when I got that criticism after I processed it and thought through it calmly. Instead of thinking ‘oh I’ve done that wrong, it’s all my fault then- I need to die to help others’, I thought ‘Ok I could have been more skilful then and should definitely learn from that and not shift responsibility but I am struggling and everyone has strong days and not so strong days.’

This is what’s going through my mind at the moment. It’s always there, the option of becoming the victim within your illness, is that ever Okay/ necessary? How do you reach a balance when you don’t even really feel you want to recover?

Let me know your thoughts/advice.


2 thoughts on “On Taking Responsibility for your own Recovery.

  1. Hey thanks for this post.

    R.e. Your last question, I don’t think I can provide you with an answer, because I really REALLY do want to recover.

    Despite this however, I really DO relate to your post. I think I only really stopped playing such a victim when I took the higher level of responsibility you describe.

    I suppose for me the thing about taking responsibility is valid although it is also a dialectic. I want others to take responsibility so badly, and it hurts so much…. AND at the same time, I really am taking steps to help myself along the way. Also, within the responsibility-taking, if it’s accompanied by expectations and judgements or a belief that one “should” become entirely self-sufficient, it is likely to be ineffective, ultimately. I think instead a LOT of self-validation is needed… that no matter how much work you’re putting in, how skilful you’re being, how much responsibility you may be taking…. It is still fucking hard, fucking hurts, and is fucking brave how willing and perseverent you are remaining.

    Also I wonder if a part of you does perhaps want to get better more than you realise. After all it sounds like you were able to take what your therapist said the right way, take ownership for what happened and see it as a learning opportunity. A learning opportunity means that you are expecting a next time, and insinuates there is a willingness to try and be more effective when that next time occurs…. And all the next times after that too. I think you are stronger than you know.

    I definitely see situations like this as learning curbs. I have learnt so much more through the “fuck ups” I have made than if I had never had those blips in the first place.

    It is not our fault that we are sick and struggling. We cannot take back the past even if we have been ineffective. However, what we can focus on is taking responsibility for the present, the ways we are willing to approach difficulties in the future, and not letting our pasts dictate that.

    Also, taking responsibility does not mean being alone in our pain. It can contrastingly mean knowing when it’s appropriate to reach out for others for necessary and much-deserved support.

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