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Sex + Relationships

It’s Selfish to Use Mental Health as an Excuse in Relationships

Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a professional psychologist or mental health practitioner.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, approximately 50% of the population will have a mental illness of some sort before they reach 40 years old. This means that learning how to manage mental health is a tough yet rewarding journey that most people will need to embark on at some point in their lives.

Mental health is not that different from physical health – the only difference is that it’s not quite visible on the surface. And in the same way that we take time to rest and seek professional treatment from a doctor when we break a bone, it’s important that we do the same for our mental health by seeking the right support and taking the time to reflect on ourselves and our inner demons.

But it’s at this point where self-love can sometimes turn into selfishness as some may turn to relationships for support. We’ve been conditioned to think that if someone can’t handle us at our worst, then they definitely don’t deserve us at our best. While this is true in a lot of circumstances, it’s important that this isn’t interpreted in the wrong way. And by that, I mean that it’s important to realize that struggling with mental health does not give us an excuse to get away with our actions without owning up to our responsibilities in our relationships.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that having mental health struggles can justify all the consequences of our actions in a relationship. But if you were to accidentally injure someone, their scars would still be there. Saying that it was an accident would not get rid of that nor would it absolve you of your responsibility for those actions. The same logic applies to mental health. You could end up lashing out really badly at your partner, and whether or not you meant what you said, those words still could have hurt them. Struggling with mental health does not give you an excuse to not own up to the consequences of your own actions of hurting someone else in the process. It’s important to recognize when your actions are hurting others and when to seek professional help to take responsibility for your actions and for the sake of yourself.

A lot of people assume that true love means your partner has to accept all your flaws and dark sides without question. Unfortunately, this is false. Acceptance does not mean that we get to stop growing and start giving up on ourselves, and mental health does not entitle you to anyone. A relationship is a two-way street, and mental health does not change that. You are definitely allowed to feel what you feel while you struggle with your own mental health journey, but an important thing to note is that your partner also has the right to recognize their inability to handle it. It doesn’t make either of you a bad person, it just makes you both human. Learning how to properly support someone struggling with their mental health is also a hard journey, and often times, we fail to recognize that the support that our partners can offer us is something to cherish. It isn’t our right or something we are entitled to.

Your family, friends and other loved ones will always be there to support you and cheer you on throughout your journey, but at the end of the day, your mental health is still your responsibility. No relationship or person can fill the gap for you or take responsibility for you. The power for potential change only lies in your hands.

Learning how to nurture our own mental health is an important journey that we will all deal with in some shape or form. And the path to inner growth and self-development will never be an easy journey. No matter how difficult it may get, mental health is never an excuse to get away with treating our partners poorly and struggling with mental health does not make us entitled to anyone.

Source: Facts About Mental Illness


Melissa Wang

Wilfrid Laurier '21

Melissa is a fourth year business student at Laurier with a huge passion for writing and sharing stories. In her spare time, you can find her running a 5km, taking a personality test for the tenth time, binging a novel when she really should be studying or deeply analyzing everyone around her.
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