How to Support Your Suicidal Friend

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Content notice: I’m going to discuss suicidality quite candidly, and make some harm reduction suggestions that some people might not agree with. I strongly recommend that anyone who is feeling suicidal see a mental health professional.

If you are lucky, you will never have a friend who expresses to you that they are feeling suicidal because none of your friends will be suicidal. However odds are that you will know someone who will struggle with suicidality at some point in their lives, and in my experience having people who are committed to their relationship with you can make all the difference. Unfortunately, it’s really easy to be really unhelpful when someone is experiencing suicidality and every person feels differently about what is helpful and what is really frustrating and downright negative. Beyond that, the moment you hear a friend say “I want to die” you tend to get hit with a wave of panic and terror that can leave you feeling completely lost about how to proceed.

Deep breath. Let’s prepare for this moment before it happens, together. Now I should note that I am not a mental health professional nor can I speak for EVERY person who has ever been suicidal, but I do have personal experience with what is helpful for me, I have been a support person for other suicidal individuals before, and I crowdsource a lot among my friends with these experiences and I can give you some information on generally what IS helpful and what is NOT helpful. Your mileage may vary, and I always recommend doing your best to suss out which particulars are best for the specific person you’re trying to help.

Let’s start with some of the big no nos. These are a little easier to find on the interwebs:

  1. Other people have it worse.
    You know what, everyone who says this can go suck an egg. Of course other people have it worse. That’s not the point. All suffering is real and valid, and whether or not there are other people who can survive worse is completely irrelevant to whether I can survive this or want to survive this. We all have different limits and other people’s lives are not important in a conversation about MY life and how I feel about it.
  2. Suicide is cowardly/selfish.
    Ah yes, the best way to help someone who is already feeling so awful about themselves that they want to die is to increase their level of shame and guilt. Wait no, the opposite of that. It is not selfish to want an end to pain, it is not cowardly to feel that you’ve reached your breaking point. If you’ve never been there you can fuck right off.
  3. You just want attention.
    So what? No really. Why is it bad to want attention? Every human needs attention or we become isolated and sad. Now it’s likely that the person doesn’t actually want attention, but even if they did, if they’re in the amount of pain that they’re considering suicide don’t they need some attention? If a person had a broken leg and kept yelling “someone help me” they would be asking for attention too, but we understand that they need it to help them manage a problem. Why is mental health any different?
  4. Just get outside more/do yoga/use essential oils/etc.
    Look if someone has reached the point of suicide you better believe that they have already tried 99% of everything you’re going to suggest and it hasn’t worked. This kind of response to someone who is at the end of their rope implies they should just be trying harder, and it’s incredibly condescending when you (person who doesn’t feel this way) thinks you know better what to do than the person who is actually living the experience.
  5. It’ll be better tomorrow/this is temporary.
    For some people this kind of reminder is somewhat helpful, but typically when you’re thinking of suicide these feelings aren’t some kind of fleeting thing. They’ve been around for a while. It probably WON’T be better tomorrow and suggesting that the problem will just fix itself seems absurd when you’re in the middle of pain that feels neverending.

Now if you’re a reasonably empathetic person who has spent any time around mental illness a lot of those won’t be too out of left field. Where things become a little bit more challenging is when you’re trying to come up with GOOD ideas of what to say. These are the things that have typically been more helpful to me when I was in an awful place.

  1. I’m here for you, and I’m not leaving.
    One of the important things you can do is demonstrate that you care about the person. Your time and attention are the most valuable things you can give to someone who feels that they are worthless/unwanted/alone. If they try to do the whole “oh you don’t need to, I’m just a burden, it’s not a big deal” then insist that you would like to stay.
  2. Don’t ask open ended questions.
    Every person will have different needs when they’re in a crisis situation, so I can’t tell you “stay close to them” or “hug them” or any other specific suggestions for how to perk them up. But what I can say is that when you’re in a crisis point making choices is very hard and it can be incredibly hard to think of things that sound like they’d be better. I like to offer either two options: do you want me to stay here or go elsewhere and text you? Or else make a suggestion and see if it’s accepted: I’d like to make you some food. Is that ok? Don’t be discouraged if they say no to a lot of things. Oftentimes nothing sounds good. Sometimes you may just have to try something and if they reject it, that’s ok (make food, put it in front of them, see if it gets eaten). When you’re trying to help someone who is suicidal think of yourself as a caretaker. They may need help with things you don’t expect. Accept that level of responsibility for the time you’re helping. Accept that it’s not about you.
  3. Literally the thing I will say for every mental health problem: deal with the basics first.
    If possible, check in with your person to see if they have eaten, slept, moved their body, taken medications, showered, or done the other basic human tasks that make your body feel functional. If they have not, try to make those things happen. Bring them food, bring them their meds, walk down the block with them. Whenever possible, do the thing with them. That might even mean going to a therapy appointment with them. Having another body there can be what it takes to get past the inertia of depression.
  4. Thank you for telling me.
    We don’t talk about suicide. Like at all. It’s considered shameful and taboo and bad. It can be scary for someone who discloses. Don’t be infantilizing or weird about it, but let them know you appreciate that they let you in and shared a really vulnerable thing with you. It shows a huge amount of trust, and it’s very brave. You can use that as an opportunity to remind them of their own abilities: not everyone can break past the fear and share. This is also a great opportunity to validate what they’re feeling: yes, it does suck and you’re sorry that they have to go through it. It’s hard and nasty and painful. It’s also surmountable.
  5. Tell me what’s going on/what you’re feeling/what the thoughts sound like.
    Suicidality comes in a lot of flavors. Some people feel that they are a burden. Some people feel that no one cares about them. Sometimes a specific event has triggered it. Let them vent and validate all those feelings. Learn more about where they’re coming from. Don’t argue, because Suicidal Brain is not logical, but you may be able to give them some reminders (if they say “no one loves me” you can be like “ah yes but here I am and yes I do and you don’t get to tell me I don’t. I will make you a sign that says I love you. I know your brain doesn’t believe it, but try to trust me).
  6. Be proactive and honest.
    If you find out that a friend is in this kind of a place, don’t wait for them to reach out to you. Follow up a day after you’ve had a conversation. Check in to see how they’re doing. Ask them to do things. You are going to have to drive the relationship right now and that commitment could be their lifeline. Additionally, people who are on the brink often have a high bullshit meter: we often suspect others of lying to us to make us feel better. Be sincere. Don’t say things you don’t mean. Obviously you care about this person because you are doing the work to show up. Focus on the things that you love about them.

Of course I will recommend that a person who is suicidal see a professional. Lots of people have legitimate reasons for being suspicious of professionals, and I understand that, but it can be helpful for many. I can’t personally recommend calling 911 because of the horrible experiences I’ve had and that I’ve heard of from others.

Do you have additional suggestions? Post in comments!

 

Why Jake and Amy Subvert Tropes

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CN: Brooklyn 99 spoilers

There’s a really common trope in TV shows and movies of the guy and the girl who hate each other to begin with but over time come to realize that they actually love each other and all the fighting that they did was just because they had so much CHEMISTRY and PASSION (or something). It’s a really common will they/won’t they scenario because you can see early on that they’ve got some kind of interest in each other, but it’s negative so there’s conflict. Easy way for writers to build plots.

Unfortunately it’s also kind of a shitty trope because it reinforces the idea that being mean is a way to express affection, and that as long as someone comes around and says “hey I love you” it doesn’t matter if they treated you like crap for a really long time. These are the kinds of tactics that abusers use to keep their victims around, and they’re also just really common ways for people to treat each other poorly. When we see them played out on our screens, we learn that it’s ok or normal, and we simply get used to the idea that that’s how you treat people.

On the flip side, a healthy, happy relationship does not good TV make. Plots require conflict. So how does one show an interesting progression in a relationship without making it shitty? How do you show people teaching each other and growing/changing because of each other without it being a crappy “let’s fix each other” plotline? How do you start with some conflict and grow into a beautiful, loving relationship?

Let me introduce you to Brooklyn 99.

There are many reasons that I love the way Brooklyn 99 takes classic TV tropes and subverts them, but perhaps my favorite one is the relationship between Jake Peralta, the main character, and Amy Santiago, my soulmate and true love. When we first meet Jake and Amy, we are introduced to them as rival cops who have a bet to see who can arrest the most people in a year. This is the classic set up for a “two people hate each other until they love each other”, especially when paired with the fact that Amy is the classic uptight woman and Jake is the classic break the rules playboy. Of course he’ll whittle away at her need to be in control until she finally HAS to go on a date with him (set up in episode one as part of their bet) and realizes she should just have fun and be more like him.

But that’s not really how it goes down, despite the fact that the show cues us to start running our scripts for those tropes.

Instead, Jake and Amy are just really good friends for multiple years. Sure, they banter, but it’s not actually mean, and consistently for the first two seasons of the show, they act as very good partners to each other. Yes, they are competitive, but instead of using that to actually get in each other’s way, they each use it as a reason to be better cops. When it comes down to it, they have a solid relationship from day one, as solid as Jake’s relationship with Terry or Rosa. And starting from a space where they clearly respect each other makes all the difference in the world for this trope.

For example, every slow burn, will they/won’t they has a time of denial, which is true of Jake and Amy. It crops up particularly when Amy starts dating Teddy and Jake begins to act jealous. But where many characters start to insult or badmouth their eventual love interest, that never happens. Another classic possibility would be interfering with Amy’s current relationship, but Jake also never shows interest in sabotaging Amy if she’s truly happy, and even works really hard to help her keep her relationship together when he inadvertently screws up by inviting Teddy to a bed and breakfast with her.

When Amy and Teddy do eventually break up and Amy decides that she doesn’t want to date cops anymore, Jake doesn’t feel that it’s his job to change her mind or convince her. He respects her decision.

These are two characters who respect each other, even if they do move from rivals to lovers, and it’s so refreshing to experience. Once they start dating, it would be all too easy for the show to fall into the “they need to change in order to be together” trap. Amy would have to relax and become less controlling, Jake would need to give up his goofy ways. Amazingly, that never happens. Instead, they sometimes have honest moments of irritation but most of the time express affection for their partner’s quirks, which is how love should be.

When Jake says that he spent all of his time in prison planning his Halloween heist (and also thinking about Amy) she just responds with “good save babe” because it doesn’t upset her, she thinks his intensity is fun. When Amy pulls out the most gigantic wedding binder, Jake just smiles and jumps in on the next set of tasks. They complement each other, as evidenced clearly in the wedding episode: Amy has planned everything and knows just how each moment is supposed to go, while Jake manages the last minute fiascos that happen in life. How have they learned to work so seamlessly together? Oh yeah, but accepting each other’s strengths and growing together as friends and partners for five years.

The final point I’d want to make about how this relationship breaks stereotypes is that Jake and Amy aren’t stagnant. They do change each other, and they do grow in their relationship. But not because the other person demands it or because they aren’t accepted as they are: they grow because they learn from each other and find the benefits in their significant other’s traits. Jake gives up his apartment because he knows it would stress Amy out to live there, and he loves her. Amy runs into the freezing ocean to get Holt and Rosa when Jake is in danger and needs backup. They face fears like commitment and family, and come out still themselves but better.

Other shows could definitely learn something about how to create tension without turning people into assholes and creating unhealthy relationship patterns.

You Don’t Know What Mental Illness Looks Like When It Matures

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I’ve been seeing a sentiment floating around a lot lately and it’s starting to get under my skin: mental illness is a health problem for young people. This isn’t strictly untrue: suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-24 year olds. There are some studies that indicate depression rates are increasing in young adults. The problem is less about truth and more about scope: it’s easy to imagine that depression, anxiety, and other common mental health problems are things that many people deal with in young adulthood, but that we outgrow.

How often do you hear people discuss mental health in regards to adults over the age of 30? I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve heard one. It’s a young person’s problem in our collective consciousness. Perhaps even more acute in my mind is that even when we do talk about mental illness in adults, we talk about it as if they were still young. What does that mean? It means that many people don’t understand that if someone has had mental illness for their whole life, their relationship with it changes. Even if they still struggle, they learn new tools and gain understanding. It’s not the same as the first wave of depression that knocks you on your ass and leaves you wondering how you’ll ever stand again.

I don’t want to downplay how serious longterm mental illness can be, because I have lived with it for my entire adult life and boy howdy is it balls, but when you’re reaching year 10 or 20, the flavor is completely different and the support that you need is completely different. Most often when we hear about mental illness we hear about people who are flailing and helpless, people who act out through negative behaviors. We hear about attention seeking behavior, or sometimes manipulation. We often hear about people who don’t necessarily want to accept help or who don’t know what is helpful.

The image that many of us have is someone who lies around looking waifish and staring out windows mournfully. In some people’s minds you can SEE depression, like that silly black cloud that follows people around in antidepressant commercials. But it’s something your’e ashamed of that you hide because it’s embarrassing and you don’t understand it.

That’s an incredibly youthful experience of mental illness. It’s one that finds the experience unfamiliar and difficult to navigate. By the time you’ve reached even 25 or 30, if you have received any kind of treatment for your mental illness or found any kind of community, you likely feel some familiarity with your mental illness. It’s not unexpected. You can often predict certain patterns. More often than not I see adults with mental illness being very frank about their mental illness. They will say straight out “I get depressed in the winter,” rather than trying to dance around anything.

On the flip side, we often get much better at masking as we age. We’ve had to function with mental illness for long enough that we know how to keep going to our jobs and leaving the house even when we feel like death on the inside. And sometimes, if we’re lucky, we’ve got some skills and strategies that we know to pull out when things get bad.

Example: when I was younger and I started to feel like death, I wouldn’t know what to do and I’d often end up leaning into the feeling, lying in bed, writing emo poetry, and feeling worse. Now when I feel like death, I put on footie pajamas, get my weighted blanket, make a cup of tea, and play a video game. If that doesn’t work, I text a friend and talk through things. If that doesn’t work I make myself leave the house. If that doesn’t work I try to work out a little bit.

Perhaps most important, most of us become more self aware. I’ve seen a lot of 17 year olds post things they thought were semi-subtle social media posts indicating that they were suicidal. Looking back, there’s nothing subtle about them. Now most of the people my age either don’t post melodramatic statuses or they’re very matter of fact about it and include notes on how others could help or what they’re doing. It doesn’t feel nearly as romantic or interesting anymore. It’s about as exciting as sharing that you need someone to help you move (and just as enticing to all your friends).

The experience of living with mental illness over time doesn’t mean that you will always be better at dealing with it. But it does mean you understand it better, you feel more comfortable with it, and you’ve probably got more ideas of things to try to feel better. I would love to see more representation of the person who has grown comfortably into a mentally ill adult, who can make jokes about the fact that they immediately think they’re going to be fired if their boss goes into a closed door meeting (yes this is me), who has lists of people to call and skills to use, and who still is mentally ill. It’s completely different, but an experience that many people grow into over time.

I’d love to have more understanding that the blase attitude many of us have about our mental illness comes from living with it day in, day out, for years and years. It gets boring after a while. I am bored with being mentally ill. That is what it means to grow up with it.

Passing Means Always Passing: How Disability Systems Punish Functionality

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I’m hitting the edge of some burnout right now, which is not really news in and of itself (there’s a lot of shit going down in my life), but what’s different this time around is that I’m very actively involved in an advocacy program and I’m seeing a. the types of services and programs that people who are less functional than I am receive and b. how hard it is to access services. Mixed in is the realization that most people don’t think of me as disabled. When I act disabled they get confused, frustrated, and angry. If you’re disabled, you’re generally expected to be exactly the same amount of disabled all the time. But that’s not how it works.

I can generally pass for neurotypical. I can be independent. Until I can’t.

There are two ways that this comes back to bite me in the ass: one is in terms of the services and supports I might want, and one is in terms of the personal blowback that comes from being disabled and neurodivergent. These problems appear either when I start to experience burnout from pushing myself to be functional for so long, or when stresses start to add up and I can’t keep up anymore.

There is literally no system in place to allow temporary respite for people with disabilities. There is absolutely respite care for families and caregivers, but there’s no system that will say to me “sure, take a vacation come stay at this place and we’ll feed you/take care of you, and we’ll cover your lost wages so that you can actually afford to take this break”. That sounds preposterous to me even typing it, because I have been so conditioned to think that I don’t deserve something like that, despite the fact that it would completely change my life for the better, make me more productive, more stable, more happy.

In order to receive services through the government, you have to prove beyond all shadow of a doubt that you are super disabled and really absolutely definitely need services or money. That means that if you are capable of holding down a job, if you make any amount of money, if you aren’t visibly disabled, you don’t get services, much less temporary services until you can get back on your feet that are easily accessible during a crisis.

Most services ask simple questions about your functioning rather than looking at how that functioning affects you. I can work, yes, but it exhausts me to the point that I sleep for 14+ hours in a go at least once a month. I can drive, yes, but it sets me on edge and gives me massive anxiety. I can call and make my own medical appointments, yes, but that’s about all I can do in a day. I have demonstrated that I can do these things, and now I’m expected to do them without any kind of repercussion to my well being because I’m “high functioning”. People don’t notice that they stack expectations very quickly: once you’ve demonstrated you can do one thing, they expect one thing AND.

If you can fake it for some amount of time, the system is not interested in the burnout or the toll it takes. It is not interested in prevention. It barely has the funding to help those who are already in crisis, much less those of us who would prefer to avoid a crisis.

On top of all of that, when you can mask for a while people start to think that that’s who you really are, or that it doesn’t affect you. We’re all so used to hiding our disabilities that when we can’t, it can result in all the ableism we’ve hidden from coming crashing down on us. Jobs assume that if you could complete the task yesterday you should be able to complete it today (and when you can’t you get consequences, or may even lose the job). Friends and family don’t understand why sometimes you can socialize and other times you can’t. It can look like you’re just an asshole if you work very hard to maintain relationships most of the time, but when you get burnt out you stop returning texts and phone calls or forget to reach out, miss a birthday, can’t be supportive.

Underlying all of these problems is the lack of recognition that “functioning” requires lots of other supportive activities: work requires showering and eating and transportation and sure maybe I can do one piece of that but not all of it. Maybe I can afford to maintain a home but I don’t have the spoons to keep it up and no one is around to help with that. Passing means being able to do all of the tiny things that keep up the facade around whatever you do: if you want to pass at work you have to pass enough to go out with coworkers, enough to bus or drive, enough to pack a lunch.

This is horrific for people like me. I can function well enough for long stretches, but one of the most common symptoms of autism in people like me (and particularly women) is exhaustion and fatigue. I am tired all the time. When I have a major event it takes me weeks to recuperate (case in point, my work’s conference and gala were two weeks ago and I’m barely starting to feel human again). If we’re lucky we find jobs and people who understand that our energy and functioning fluctuate, people who will pick up the slack when we’re struggling to get from bed to the car to work. But if we’re not lucky? We push ourselves until we can’t move, we become immensely depressed, we don’t understand what’s wrong with us because shouldn’t we be able to do all the things everyone else is able to do?

There are no supports when you can pass some of the time. It sucks.

When SAD Isn’t Just the Winter Blues

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I love spring. I hate spring. I have a lot of feelings during spring.

Last night I took a walk with my skin free to the air for the first time since November. It’s like breathing again. Sometimes it feels like I’m drowning in it. I want to run. I want to disappear. I cry. I drink. I get tattoos. I shave my head.

Spring is really, really hard for me. I feel uncomfortable in my body and bored with my surroundings. Spring is when I get tattoos or shave my head or break up or make rash decisions. It’s almost a manic feeling, but tinged with a deep, deep melancholy. I guess that’s what happens when you’re an autistic who has a strong pull towards spontaneity but also goes into a panicked shock when a plan changes.

You might be surprised to hear that these symptoms reasonably could fall under the label of Seasonal Affective Disorder. From Mayo Clinic: “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.”

Most people experience heightened symptoms of depression in the winter, and that is the most common type of SAD (low mood, low energy, nasty depression during the fall and winter months). However there are some folks who experience consistent low mood at other times of the year. I personally get SAD in the winter, and then this weird, nostalgic, anxious, mess of dissatisfaction during spring. Winter is a time of hibernation, when I can barely bring myself to move. Spring is the time when I have energy and I want to use that energy to do bad things to myself.

It can be so frustrating to have these patterns of emotion without recognition (from yourself or others) that it could be a perfectly natural seasonal issue, and that you can use the same skills and techniques that others use to deal with them. If you regularly feel depressed in the winter, most people can identify it as seasonal. Other times? Not so much.

Especially when it comes to spring and summer it can seem like everyone else is excited and loving the season, while you’re stuck somewhere else, isolated.

So today’s post (short though it is, I need to ease back into this blogging thing) is a reminder that SAD can be at any time of the year. Different people are affected differently. Your history can affect it (dates like the death of a loved one can be particularly difficult), or our current life (I always have a major conference at the end of April that leaves me drained and struggling).

No matter how your depression manifests, it can be helpful to look for patterns and start to put coping mechanisms in place preemptively. If you know summer is bad, plan your self care more actively leading into summer. If you know winter is bad, communicate with others and ask them to help you get out and about.

As I’m trying to pick back up after a very busy April, I’m trying to remember that spring is hard for me, and this spring is feeling particularly hard for me. But summer will be here soon, and the forwards looking nostalgia will dissipate, and I will someday feel functional again. That is the nice part of seasonal affective disorders: it will end. It will get easier. You can get through it

Hiatus

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Sorry for being so quiet lately! April is a really tough month for me, and because of that I won’t be posting new content until May. Thanks for being understanding 🙂

When Mental Illness Makes You a Hypocrite

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I do a lot of things that I tell other people they shouldn’t do. Basically every day. I tell other people they shouldn’t skip meals or think of food as good and bad (food is not moral). But here I am, skipping breakfast literally every day and judging the hell out of my own food. It’s basically the most common mental illness experience as far as I can understand: we all think we’re uniquely bad in some way and deserve the cruelty we heap on ourselves in a way that no one else ever could.

I’ve been feeling it a lot lately though because mental illness also limits my ability to follow through on my values. The March for Our Lives was this weekend, and it’s something that I care a lot about. I believe deeply in the importance of public demonstrations, and of coming together when you have a cause. I didn’t go. I wasn’t busy. I could have gone, quite easily in fact. But I didn’t. The thought of it made me anxious and exhausted. The marches I have been to in the past knocked me out for a day or two afterwards, and honestly I have too much shit happening right now to manage that.

I feel awful about it.

If one of my friends came to me and said they feel like they aren’t doing enough for the movements they care about because they don’t go to marches and call their representatives, I’d remind them that there are a thousand ways to make a difference. Writing, talking to friends, supporting those people who are on the front lines, volunteering, working at an organization that supports the community, pushing for accessibility in events and spaces…these are all things that I do. I’d tell them that all of these things are important, and that staying functional and happy as an oppressed person is honestly job #1.

But I can’t listen to it when it comes to me. I’m special. I should be able to do more than other people, or do things that make me miserable because of…reasons.

It’s doubly frustrating because it feels like no matter what I do I betray my values in some way: go to a March, push myself too hard, feel like shit, and betray my strong value that each person has something to bring to social justice movements and it doesn’t have to be marching in the streets, and it’s ok to recognize your own limits. Or, don’t go, and feel like I’m betraying the movements I care about.

It’s amazing how many of these instances come up. I think we all have places where we have to compromise our values because we’re human and fallible and we can’t do all the things that we would like to or feel we should do. I can’t be vegan because I would actually literally die due to my sensory sensitivities+eating disorder. I can’t call legislators because it sets off my anxiety and I am a wreck before and after. I’m really awful at setting boundaries despite telling other people that they’re super healthy (because hey when you’re depressed your brain tells you any boundaries will make people leave you forever).

There are a lot of things that frustrate me about having mental illness/disability. But the worst is unquestionably that it impacts my ability to be a good person.

And yet.

Mental illness is not an excuse to be a bad person. But sometimes it’s definitely an excuse to not do all of the hundreds of things you’d like to do to be a good person. And I have to remind myself that there’s a difference between being a bad person and not being the best person (heyo look there’s my old friend black and white thinking). It’s easy to think that you’re making excuses for inappropriate behavior when you try to accommodate your disability. It’s easy to think you’ll slide into treating people badly because well I’m mentally ill and it’s just how I am. It’s easy to think only anxiety will keep you vigilant.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in myself that I’m convinced the line between “using my disability as an excuse to be a shithead” and “accommodating my disability” is blurry and grey and hard to understand. I don’t think that’s actually true. Sure, there are some edge cases like “how often can I cancel before I really am a bad friend?”. But “should I choose not to do this thing that’s really hard for me and instead focus on things that use my talents”? That’s not one of them.

So sure, I might feel like a hypocrite or worry that I’m betraying my values, and even feel like I’m ignoring my own advice by even having those feelings (seriously, anxious people can feel anxious about anything). But I’d know if I were truly violating my own ethics. One of the hardest things to do when you’re mentally ill is trust your own assessment of a situation. But our own assessments are so important when it comes to our own values. I’m going to start practicing; I am living up to my values to the best of my ability. And that’s good enough, no matter what anyone else says.