How To Be Mentally Responsible

Someone asked me, “Do you know what in your life made you feel depressed?”

That’s a big question, and that’s what I told her.

I believe genetics have given me a predisposition to depression; I believe negative external influences and events have provided the opportunity for an unchecked depression to flare up; and I believe naive personal responses, my inability to recognize my issues proactively, and my innocent lack of knowledge on the matter reinforced the darkness. But, in the end, no matter what happened to me, I now have a responsibility. I didn’t choose the cards I was dealt, but I can play them wisely. Depression, anxiety, mental illness, and suicidal thoughts are not my fault, but they are my responsibility.

Embracing such a concept liberated me from the blame game and empowered me to take proper steps toward personal healing. Otherwise, the burdens of regret, hurt, and bitterness would anchor me in the darkness and prevent needed growth.

So, what does it mean to be mentally responsible? Mental responsibility is an individual’s practice of maintaining control over their mental, emotional, and physical response, and if, in any of those ways, the person feels out of control, they actively seek out help and support.

Consider the three A’s: acceptance, accountability, and autonomy.

Acceptance

First of all, being mentally responsible requires acceptance. “It is what it is” can be used insensitively in conversation, but it also carries a valuable truth. Whatever the reason for your struggle, well, it is what it is. You might not have chosen to be in the darkness, but you can actively choose to seek a way out.
Come to terms with your past and accept the fact that you have control over the present, and if not the present then the future. Accept yourself, the cards you were dealt, and the truth that you can’t do it alone.

Accountability

Come on. You know it’s true. You can’t do it alone. Still, our minds convince us that we can fly solo or the anxieties of what people might say, do or think immobilize us in isolation. Mental responsibility, however, trudges through such fears and clings to the facts. It pines for personal accountability with the understanding that the greatest accomplishments are earned alongside friends, family, loved ones, and professionals.

Autonomy

Self-government offers a healthy balance to accountability to others. No matter how fantastic your support circle is, you are accountable for your own actions. Understanding this is vital to being responsible for our mental health. A loved one can encourage and challenge you for years and years to go see a counselor or a doctor, but you will always have to be the one to step through the door.

Additionally, you have autonomy from your struggles. You are not your depression; your anxiety does not define you; you are not destined to kill yourself. Separate in your mind your identity from your struggles.

Mental illness is not your fault, but it is your responsibility. Take responsibility for your mental health by accepting the cards you were dealt, seeking accountability, and striving for self-government and autonomy from your problems. You have more control than you think.

No one can be the victor when they’re stuck playing the victim. Choose to be the victor. Take responsibility. 


What is a step you can take this week to help you be mentally responsible? 

Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

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