It is Not Your Fault, But it is Your Responsibility

This week, while teaching my acting classes, we were greeted with a symphony of building facade work. If you don't know what that is, I'll describe the sound - imagine motorized farts, that aren't funny, being pounded into your skull with a rock hammer. It's startling, unpredictable, and fucking relentless.


Trying to conduct an on-camera acting class, where silence is paramount while the work is happening, is like trying to enjoy a horror movie in a theater full of teenagers. Not to mention the workers on on the scaffolding, right outside our window, stomping around and bullshitting.


It all fucking sucks, for everyone fucking involved. I pay rent to teach there -my students pay a lot of money to have a good experience. This facade work, aside from triggering a horrid stretch of memories from when I was forced to live with it happening on my wall while it was peak pandemic and couldn't escape it (another story), is a city-mandated task.


The workers are just doing their jobs. There is nothing to stop it. I could open the window and Karen them to death, but it's not going to change anything. I can barter and ask them to only do it during certain times during my class, but that just adds another level of stress. They have to get this done, and I have to teach this class.


I spent the entire week apologizing up and down to my students. The sounds were maddening. How can anyone, in a space where they need to be their most vulnerable, tolerate this shit?


I was continuously forgiven and told it was not my fault.


Alas, it was not my fault… however, as the leader of the group, the person they pay good money to help them get better at their craft, it was my responsibility to do everything in my power to make it right. Even though I was on the verge of a full-on, five-alarm panic attack.


So we, as a group, came up with a solution. We decided film our scenes, one at a time, in a dingy, creepy hallway. We turned it into an audition exercise. After we filmed the scenes out of the classroom, we reconvened and watched the clips together. It was the absolute best we could do, and we made it work (and, of course, the fucking construction stopped the second we came up with a solution.) My students, as they do, rose to the challenge and crushed it.


What does this have to do with mental health, you say? Well, I'll tell ya!!!


I recently heard the term "it is not my fault, but it is my responsibility". The person who said it to me was referring to addiction, but I strongly feel as though the same goes for mental illness, and to some degree, trauma.


Fuckin' Kanye West is in the news again. And when fuckin' Kanye West is in the news, any type of de-stigmatization of bipolar disorder gets thrown out the fucking window to the masses. Kayne embodies the "yes, but they have issues" person who ruins it for the rest of us, who work tirelessly to figure out how to cope with this card that we have been dealt.


I think back on my twenties, when I ignored my first bipolar diagnosis and let that shit go unchecked for another, count em, six years. There are a lot of instances I look back on where I say "oh, yeah, that might have been that thing I have, maybe if I had dealt with it head-on in the beginning, I would handled that in a much better way."


It's taken me a long time to figure out that mindset. Before I did, I definitely went through a period where I thought, "oh, yeah, that might have been that thing I have, so it turns out that thing I did wasn't my fault! Full stop."


No pal, that ain't it. I learned a very hard truth about myself, something I feared my whole life. Instead of accepting the diagnosis and doing the work that lied ahead, I sought out a second opinion, lied in my answers to the next doctor, got a clean bill of health, then continued on acting like a raging dickhead.


I was using my metal illness and trauma as a get-out-of-jail-free card.


Every case is obviously different - especially when you throw trauma into the mix. Trauma is not the victim's fault. And there is no timetable on healing. There are no "buts" there. I have a shitload of trauma, many of it I didn't know was trauma till I started therapy, twelve years ago. I'm 38 years old still have shit to unpack.


The problematic thing that can come from trauma is passing it on.


Trauma is not your fault, but refraining from passing it on to someone else, however that looks (I really don't need to go into detail there), is your responsibility. I think of those old-school mentalities like "my parents gave me a beating when I deserved it and I turned out fine"... come on. Have you?!


On the same token, mental illness is not your fault, but consciously keeping it unchecked and using it as an excuse to be reckless - or, let's face it, a fucking asshole - is your responsibility. Kanye, talented as he may be, is a just fucking asshole with a few platinum records. He sets ablaze everything people like us work towards - fighting for a world without stigma… and smugly laughs about it. Fuck him.


And the masses eat it up, then regurgitate all those stigmas to the "yes, but he has issues" crowd.




If you are struggling with your mental health, there is no shame in getting help:


If you are in immediate crisis:


  • Call 911

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (now 988, however you can still connect with this number): 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish

  • Crisis Text Line: Text SIGNS to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling

  • Disaster Distress Helpline: CALL or TEXT 1-800-985-5990


ABUSE/ASSAULT/VIOLENCE

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522

  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

BIPOC/AAPI


Black Mental Health Alliance – (410) 338-2642


Therapy For Black Girls: https://therapyforblackgirls.com/


National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association: https://www.naapimha.org/


Inclusive Therapists: https://www.inclusivetherapists.com/


Indian Health Services: https://www.ihs.gov/communityhealth/behavioralhealth/


LGBTQ+

  • Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860

  • The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

OLDER ADULTS

  • The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 – TTY

  • Alzheimer’s Association Helpline: 1-800-272-3900

VETERANS/ACTIVE MILITARY

  • Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), then select 1, or Crisis Chat text: 8388255

AFFORDABLE THERAPY

  • Open Path Collective - Open Path Collective is a directory of low-cost options for in-person and online therapy. The directory includes filters for therapist matching. Open Path has a fee for a lifetime membership, and therapists on this platform commit to providing services for no more than $60 for individuals and $80 for couples/families. Lifetime memberships also available.



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