I wonder why, when it comes to mental health, people often interpret me saying “you are responsible for your actions and reactions” as “you have to do this alone?”

If I were writing about physical health, nobody would assume that by saying “you are responsible for your own physical health” I would be implying that you should perform surgery on your own arm if you break it.

Being responsible for your own recovery means that you accept that you are the primary agent in your recovery. It means that you understand yourself to be accountable for your actions (regardless of the actions of others upon you).

That’s not the same as saying only you can be involved in your recovery. Nor is it saying that doing recovery alone is somehow superior to doing it with help.

Being responsible for our own actions is one of those shitty things that happens to us when we grow up. Being an adult is full of crap like this. I’m still trying to deal with most of it — like opening bills. There is currently a pile of bills waiting to be opened on my kitchen table. I just walked past it actually. I was going to open one then I decided I absolutely must write a blog at this very moment instead. That’s me choosing to not deal with my bills. It isn’t anyone else’s fault that my bills aren’t getting opened. It is a choice I just made and it is called procrastination.

Like it or not, as an adult there are a ton of things I am responsible for. Top of the list, I am responsible for my own actions and reactions. Understanding this (I mean really understanding that I can in fact control my own reactions to things) felt at first like a judgement, and then like a blessing.

It felt like a judgement, because it is. And my defensive reaction to this judgement existed because I didn’t like to think that I was to blame for … anything. And I was. (I know lots of people dislike the word “blame.” I’m sticking to it. Sometimes I absolutely am to blame for bad things that happen to me and to other people, even if accidental or unintended. That too, is part of being human, and not being perfect shouldn’t be something that I can’t admit to.)

It is annoying as hell when someone tells you that you are responsible for your own actions and reactions. It is a shitty thing to say to someone. It implies all sorts of judgement. It implies that you are not currently acting responsibly. It implies that you are not the victim in this cruel world and that you could be taking actions to change your circumstances. It implies a lack of sympathy. It implies that you could do better, or try harder. It quite rightfully should piss you right off.

And after you are done being pissed off, you will hopefully realise that being responsible for your own actions and reactions is actually the key to everything. It is power. It means that no matter what other people do or say, you get to choose how you react. This, and learning how to do this, is a super-skill that every one of us is capable of learning.

My main aim with all this responsibility talk, is I want you to know that nobody is going to get you recovered for you. That’s just a fact. Nobody else can rewire your brain for you. Nobody else can decide to recover for you. Nobody else can stop you taking restrictive actions. Nobody else can make you take un-restrictive actions. Nobody else can stop you compulsively moving. You have to be the one that does this.

And when you understand that you will stop waiting for someone else to come along and get you recovered and you will start taking the action that you need to take. And you’ll recover because you forced yourself to follow through because you understood that was what you had to do.

I’m not telling you that you are responsible for your actions because I want you to feel blamed. I am telling you it because I want you to recover.

Part of this responsibility is knowing when and where you need to ask for help. It is about getting it done however you need to get it done — and that part is unique to you. So it is a good job that you know yourself so well, as you are the best leader for your own recovery.

So, you tell me. What do you need in terms of help in order to get you where you want to be? There is no right or wrong answer, but you do need to find what works, and it is your responsibility to do so. Which is quite right, because you are the perfect person to know the answer when it comes to what you need in order to recover.


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