I agree one-hundred percent about how trauma, a disability, being a victim or having a mental illness does NOT excuse behaving like a jerk to other people. It goes back to the generic scenario where a kid is being bullied his/her whole childhood just to grow up to be a bully his or herself. The same thing applies to a kid who is a bully because they are abused at home or they have low self esteem.
Now, with that being said, I draw the line at somebody who was abused as a child, may share some of the same struggles listed in the first paragraph, is a good-hearted person, but may exhibit harsh behavior as a self defense mechanism. Here’s an example from my life recently. I randomly met a therapist on twitter a couple days ago who offered to help me with my PTSD struggles. I accepted and gave her my email and a link to my blog. Little did I know that I would instantly be sending emails to her explaining my story, just to be told more about what I need to do to change, right after talking about how the things that were done to me were not okay. I was confused because I still don’t know what she means by “change”. She never met me in person. She knows me from the emails I sent her and a couple blog posts. She not only contradicted herself but prejudged me from just a couple of sources within less than 20 minutes. Her emails back said survivors like me can behave in a way that “legitimately turns people off”. What behavior are you referring to? I’m not gonna lie. She obviously saw a blog post I referred her to (see “My Most Personal And Revealing Post So Far…Get Ready) and thought it was a “turn off”. Well, I can’t and won’t help venting over things done to me that were NOT okay. She also kept telling me to accept what happened for what it is and to “walk away” because that’s what we “healthy adults” do. That was it for me. Not only did I tell her the next day we should stop here and not book online sessions, but I then blocked her from my email in case she tried forcing some “positive energy” on me at random times.
I am not saying the person’s name obviously. But I feel zero shame in talking about this person in my blog. I don’t need an excuse because it’s perfectly okay in my book. As for her and any therapist dealing with mental health, there is NO excuse for telling someone who has been hurt to just accept it. If you have been through this yourself and you accept it, fine. But one size DOES NOT fit all, especially if you don’t know your new client yet.
So I didn’t behave in a “polite” manner but I will never apologize for that. Mental health and PTSD are not excuses, but standing up for one’s self is. It’s a right. And it takes balls to do it (although to be fair it’s very easy on the computer vs face to face). People who actually DO behave in a way that turns people off DO need to change and accept they are part of the problem. Why? Because not only are they actually being a pain in the ass, but also because they CHOSE to be. Mental health is unrelated all the way.
With all that being said, if you are invalidating someone who is seeking help and understanding, it’s YOU who needs to change.