You’re not depressed, you’re just an Arsehole

Stop using your mental health as an excuse for all your flaws


Colin Creevey | Fri, 18 Jan 2019


Image Courtesy of Let The People Speak, Flickr

So I am imagining that you have read the headline for this piece and are immediately outraged. How very dare you, opine writer? How dare you come and tell me that my mental health illness is fake? 
 
Well, bear with me here. 
 
Let me start off by saying that mental health issues are important and we need to talk about them more. People shouldn’t feel ashamed of mental illnesses that they suffer and should be able to openly discuss them the same way we discuss physical illnesses. Most people are not faking their struggles and too often suffer in silence. 
 
However, some people – and these people are a minority – use their mental illness as an excuse for all their faults. 

 

Take Kanye West as an example. West claimed that slavery was a choice in a now infamous interview on TMZ that left the interviewers stunned and speechless. It was a worrying rant that many felt merely demonstrated how estranged West had become from the very community he is supposed to represent. The incident was later attributed in part to West’s alleged bipolar personality disorder. 
 
But that’s not an excuse.
 
There are so many people that struggle with mental health problems that don’t go on racist tirades. Take Kristen Bell, actor and star of Frozen: she has spoken frequently about her own struggle with depression for years. She has yet to go on a crazy diatribe or as far as I know say anything that is massively problematic. It doesn’t excuse West’s other seemingly random and unhinged twitter rants, that range from his rant on Drake to calling himself god. 
 
It maybe explains it, but it is not an excuse. When it comes to criminals, a severe untreated mental health problem can be an explanation for why someone shot up a school or murdered a random passer-by. But it doesn’t excuse it. These criminals are not then allowed to walk free. No, they are convicted as normal, sometimes with sympathetic sentencing and committed to a secure mental facility. They deserve our sympathy for sure, and we should absolutely try to bolster our mental health facilities so that this doesn’t happen again but we don’t and we shouldn’t allow it to be an exonerating excuse. 
 
This is a worrying trend.
Public figures are increasingly using their supposed mental health problems as an excuse for their abhorrent behaviours.
Just look at Harvey Weinstein – he claimed that the slew of allegations of sexual harassment against him were a manifestation of a mental health problem that if he merely went on to a facility would be fixed. A systematic abuse of women cannot be excused with a meek apology and crying ‘mental health.’ We need to be more aware of this incredibly worrying trend. It detracts from those who really do have sincere struggles and labels everyone suffering as overreacting and inauthentic. 
 
I am all for having patience for those with mental health problems who genuinely struggle with simple day to day tasks. I have grown up with a parent with a serious disability and know only too well how even small tasks can seem complicated and insurmountable. But, this, this is where I draw the line. It doesn’t excuse all of your crappy behaviours. 
 
Your mental health illness is not a get out of jail free card. 
 

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