A friend of mine was recently informed that he was using his mental illness as an excuse. As well as making my blood boil, it made me think.

First, mental illness is not an excuse. If anything, it is a reason. When a cancer patient say ‘no, I can’t go out today, I’m not feeling well’, the response is some variation of ‘I’m sorry, I hope you feel better soon, maybe some other time’. It is not ever ‘stop using your cancer as an excuse!’, except in exceptionally stupid cases. When a diabetic says ‘no, I can’t come for coffee, my blood sugars are causing problems and I need to sort them out before I do anything else’, that’s not an excuse, it’s a reason.

Of course, mental health, not understanding, stigma, harden up. I’m sure there needs to be a word to cover the way people see mental illness, all the shitty things they say and do in one little index word.

It gets tiring railing against this stuff. No-one listens. No-one wants to understand. Just take a concrete pill and harden up. Get over yourself, stop being so selfish, get your shit together. Stop making excuses.

If mental illness was an excuse and no more, I would have got up and stopped making excuses ten years ago. If it was just an excuse then I would throw it away and live the life of a normal human being. It’s not an excuse. At all. It’s not an excuse for the way we act, but it is a reason for it.

It makes me so angry when people come up with these cruel little phrases and throw them at their friends. Not caring about your friends enough to find out even the basics of their illness is not friendly. It’s saying that you don’t value your friendship enough to make an effort.


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