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Mental Health Disorders and the Blame Game

by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.


This article goes out to ANYONE who has a mental health disorder, whether it is bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, ptsd, panic disorder, agoraphobia, schizophrenia, etc.

You know, there is a lot of discussion about the families of people who have mental disorders; we now know them as brain disorders, which is more accurate. I have a great deal of respect for these families because let's face it, it isn't easy to live with many of the symptoms of our disorders and for most of us it seems, we live with more than one disorder. 

These kinds of disorders as I always say, don't like to come alone and love to bring company whether it be panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, you name it. I have discussed the "affective spectrum" many times. 

So I encourage families to reach out for support but as I have mentioned before, be careful where you find that help. There is much hate in many family groups and that is an ok place to begin but the goal should be to move past that and not remain in that place. Look for swastikas hanging. LOL

However! I am more of an advocate for the person with mental health disorders because I understand this world better on a personal and professional level. My article today is a caution against something I see a lot.

Because many of the symptoms of our disorders are so visible, so easy to see by our families - so obvious, our problems are so much the focus of our relationships. 

For me it wasn't easy to not see the bookshelf coming down, or me clearing my desk and the last and worse one, breaking apart two wooden tv trays. 

The family member can say "See! Look! This is the reason for all my problems. I have no problems of my own because they aren't so visible and you can't see them so easy as the person who has the disorder."


Does this mean the person without the obvious disorders don't have deep issues? Does this mean that the family member doesn't ever trigger the person with the mental health issues? Does this get brought up in therapy?

It is so common when relationships come to an end for the family member who does not have an obvious mental health disorder to say to everyone "I left the marriage because my wife/husband acted out too many times." Or "I left the marriage because I could not stand their disorder another second." 

When you hear messages like this, WATCH OUT! Never is there one simple pat answer to a break up of a relationship UNLESS the person does not want to face their inner responsibility for their part and that part has NOTHING to do with the other person's disorder. Yes, you heard me right!

Because our disorders are so visible, I'll say this again, we are and can be excellent scapegoats for people who do not want to face up to their responsibilities. It is so much easier to blame a very easy scapegoat and many do and the sad part is that the person with the disorder buys into it and takes all the blame. 

Not one person is all guilty for a break-up for a relationship. 

If both people have mental health issues, one party can still blame the other person just the same. Some mental health disorders express themselves "quieter " but can be even more deadly to a relationship than someone acting out physically. We call that emotional abuse, emotional violence, being unavailable to their partner such as depression, ptsd, etc. 

Have you ever went out on a first date and asked that person why their marriage didn't work, which in my opinion is not an appropriate question for the first date? Have you noticed it is a very simple answer and it isn't multi-faceted and it is the other person's fault? You are hearing a very twisted story. 

Remember for those of you that have mental health disorders who are in relationships, don't buy into the theory that you are lucky to have this person and that not many people would have you. You are very loveable and many people would love you. Never take second seat. 

Remember if your partner has no mental health disorders that he/she still has issues of their own. Everyone does. Never let them blame you for things that do not belong to you. 

Now if you are out of a relationship and your ex has created a false story, what do you care? Be glad that this person is gone. Obviously they have a problem with compulsive lying and you want none of that. 

Never ever allow your mental health disorder(s) to make you feel bad or less about yourself. Mental health disorders are brain disorders. You wouldn't feel bad if you had diabetes would you? Same type of thing. 

You are not your disorder. You are still you, just working hard to feeling better and you have lots of company. 

Never ever let anyone make you feel less than who you are because of your disorder(s) whether it be your work, your friends, etc. In today's society people are extremely uneducated about mental health so you are likely to hear incredible things that are far from the truth and expected to just "snap out of it." 


Last piece of advice. Watch out for "victims" who are looking for a persecutor. These people love the attention of playing the victim and they create situations that look like someone is abusing them. They will go out of their way to set situations up. If you touch them, you "hit" them. 

They have a history of being abused themselves.


Many of us with mental health disorders have a long history of being abused both by society and the mental health system itself. 

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