Recently, I've been in a situation where I have been blamed for someone else's mental illness. Now, as someone who has struggled severely with mental illness (anxiety) and is still taking medication and getting help- you can see how it was extremely offsetting.
Having been through it/ going through it, I can say with confidence that mental illness affects everyone differently. My anxiety is not the same as my neighbors, and theirs isn't the exact same as the person next to them. It's all a spectrum and will impact the lives of people in completely different ways. I understand fully that there are many circumstances that can place someone in a place where they are overwhelmed, feeling helpless, feeling alone, and overcome by anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc. And I also understand that sometimes mental illness is hereditary or there are consequences from an abusive childhood or broken relationship. Life happens.
However, with knowing all of these factors, you cannot blame anyone else for your mental illness. If there is a chemical imbalance inside of your brain, I promise it is not your roommate's fault for forgetting to take the trash out once. One, single, person is not a cause for your mental illness. I believe that because mental illnesses are SO complex, they cannot be pinned down to a specific source.
Triggers on the other hand? Sure. Please check out this article to learn about them more in depth. They are:
"... external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk. Reacting to triggers is normal, but if we don't recognize them and respond to them appropriately, they may actually cause a downward spiral, making us feel worse and worse" (Center for Mental Health Services, 2013).
You may read this and feel comforted in knowing that there's an explanation for randomly acting out for no reason. An action that someone is doing may be a trigger for you, but you cannot tell that person that they are the cause of your mental illness. Correlation does not equal causation. Aside from not being self-aware and realizing that mental illness cannot be blamed on anyone, in particular, it's also extremely selfish to tell someone that they're the reason you have anxiety/ depression/ an eating disorder/ bipolar disorder/ obsessive-compulsive disorder/ panic disorder/ etc...
If someone is performing an action that is a trigger for you unknowingly, tell them. Don't expect them to understand at first or get frustrated because they don't get it right away. Sometimes you might ask someone to change everything about themselves. It'snot fair, but if they do- be patient with them because both of these things are a learning curve.
Everyone's trying to figure this all out, don't put the blame on one person. It's not fair, they don't deserve that, and people are inherently good (in my opinion). You're going to get through this. Maybe it's therapy. Maybe it's going to church. Maybe it looks like going for 7 am runs (I've been doing that when I can lately). Find a way to cope. This is going to be a long winter, so bundle up with things you enjoy while you can.
Until Next Time,