Do Not Apologize For Living With a Mental Illness

September 24, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Do. Not. Apologize. For. Living. With. A. Mental Illness.

Remember that brand Nike and their slogan "Just Do It!" ? Well, "Don't Do It!" Instead, explain it.

"I've Met Someone New and Important, Shouldn't I explain?"

Yes, of course. If you had a chronic physical illness you would also explain. Of course, there is a time and place for everything but here is an example:

Scenario: You have met someone special! You find he or she attractive and smart and suddenly you watch movies with this person you would normally find terrible. You cook and clean your house before they come over. You put some lip-gloss on or, for equalities sake, try to find a pair of jeans you think she might like.

A couple of glorious months have passed. Hopefully, they have involved intimacy and some roses, chocolate and smitten smiles. Your mental illness has been in remission, or well controlled for some time, enough time that life is pretty 'normal'--whatever that is. But you need to tell this person. You need to tell them before they leave a toothbrush at your house strategically. What do you do?

>Talk. Talk. Talk!

>Educate them on the illness

>Educate and inform them on how your illness presents itself in your life

You need to be honest. It's tough but it's also irritating hiding your medication under the sink. Hiding your illness when you do not need to.

Do not apologize. Why should you? We all have skeletons in our closet, some are more rusty than others, but you might be surprised by the result.

"I'm Scared! What if They Don't Understand?

If they don't understand, the two of you are just not a good fit. A piece to the puzzle of the relationship is missing and all the pieces are needed. This applies to many relationships: employers, friendships and even conversations with a new medical doctor who is not your psychiatrist. It is socially transferable. It's crucial to tell people about a chronic mental illness, particularly if you see a sustained future together.

It's normal for those of us living with a chronic mental illness to harbor fear regarding letting people in. Explaining what we might believe we should hide. We might fear:

>A negative response

>The recipient expressing shock and/or distaste

>An onslaught of question's!

Among other things. And these are not bad things. A negative response helps us determine who will understand. A person expressing initial shock probably wants to know more. They probably want to understand the illness and how it affects you and, in connection, your relationship. If they ask questions this is a very good thing. After all, put yourself in this persons shoes: If you cared about them you would want to know everything you could.

In summary: Relationships are different for all of us but we need to explain our illness at some point, it's only fair, and we don't need to apologize. Instead, educate them, open dialogue. More often than not, I don't think we give other people enough credit. People all experience pain and diversity in our lives and this allows us to be human, to feel empathy and to understand others.

It's worth the wait to find people who understand. It's important not to apologize. We live with a chronic mental illness but we are not damaged.

We are human.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, September 24). Do Not Apologize For Living With a Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

John Taylor
August, 24 2015 at 12:28 pm

any help you can send, please do.

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