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Intolerance through experience

2012-01-30T11:45:00+00:00

Thinking about a recent post, lest anyone think that I prefer dogs over mentally-ill people, it’s absolutely true. I prefer dogs over most people, whether those people are healthy or not. So there’s no argument there.

But I don’t wish to seem unnecessarily intolerant of the mentally ill. I’ve spent decades dealing with various mentally ill people, as friends, as partners, as family. It’s been both educational and annoying. It’s usually not their fault, of course. They didn’t ask to be mentally ill. (Except for bipolar people, who usually think they’re “perfectly fine” and don’t like to take their medication, so they go off their medication, and… well, you probably know how well that turns out.)

But after a particularly long bout of dealing with a partner with clinical depression and various personality disorders ranging from the mildly annoying to the seriously disabling (as in, she wouldn’t keep a job), I realized that what’s most important in my life is me. Not them. I’m living my life for me. If I find that I’m contorting my life to accommodate another person’s problems, then that’s where I draw the line. Their problems are not my problems. I’m happy to help, to a point. But beyond that point, I come first. And that’s the way it should be for everyone, I think. Everyone should find that point where they realize that their own needs are more important than the needs of other people. And they should be constantly aware of that point of no return, and they should push back when others try to cross it, regardless of whether those other people have an excuse (like mental illness) or not.

So if I sound intolerant, it’s because I am. And I got that way through experience. ;-)

2 Comments
  1. 2012-01-31T12:17:57+00:00 12:17

    I can agree with you to a point, because I think the concept of “living for me” is an important baseline for people to come to, especially people who are codependent or mired in the guilt of religious pressure. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s the final step on the journey. I don’t think living for me brings any lasting meaning to life.

    He’s my two cents: we start life dependent, move to independence, and hopefully, if we become wise, to interdependence, which is essentially choosing to do life in cooperation with people not out of need or guilt, but because we care about them and the sacrifices become worth it to us.

    I do agree that it’s a lot less simple with people who struggle with chronic mental illness. But say you had a child with mental illness, you wouldn’t say, “sorry kid, I’m living my life for me.”

    Which is why I think there’s a tension in the middle somewhere that we all are looking to find. I applaud your search and enjoy your thoughts. Keep writing! :)

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  2. 2012-01-30T20:47:46+00:00 20:47

    Very well said! You shouldn’t worry about what others are thinking. Nobody has the right to judge anyway, by the way. Which of course you already know, keep being you! Experience is a wonderful teacher isn’t it?

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