Mental Health is a reason, but never an excuse.

‘Just because your pain is understandable, it doesn’t mean your behaviour is acceptable’
Steve Maraboli

This week popular TV personality Ant McPartlin was arrested following crashing his car. He was drink driving. The public’s reaction was mixed. Some people condemned his actions but it seemed that the majority of the public and his celebrity pals rallied around him in support. Ant’s battle with mental health issues and addiction has been well documented and he’s a huge public figure here in the UK. I guess, that’s why people had so much sympathy for him when these events unfolded.

And I get it. He’s going through a hard time. I understand that, I’ve been there myself. When you are suffering from poor mental health, you do make bad choices and I can 100% vouch for that. I can understand that it’s not Ant’s fault that he feels that way. I can understand that his brain is clouded at the moment, that he’s made decisions that are totally out of character. I understand that.  But as much as I understand, his behaviour and his actions were completely and utterly unacceptable. And I’m sure on reflection, he probably echo’s my sentiments.

Accepting responsibility isn’t dismissing mental health…

It’s such a huge step forward that we’re displaying empathy for mental health issues, especially when it comes to men.   What we can’t do though, is use mental health as an excuse. It is most definitely a reason for behaviours, and poor mental health explains bad choices, but it can never justify them.  What Ant did was wrong, and he put other people’s lives at risk, there is absolutely no excuse for his actions. If we sweep it under the carpet, if we are lenient on punishment, then it undoes all of the hard work people have done to campaign against drink driving, and he will never be able to recover if he doesn’t face up to his actions.

I’ve said and done some truly horrific things when I’ve been in a bad place. I try and apologise as much as I can, because I know that even though sometimes I can’t help it, I really can hurt people and let people down. If I spent my life blaming everything on my bipolar then how am I ever going to grow as a person? How will I ever recover? I couldn’t. I need to be honest with myself and self-reflect.

I need to take ownership of my problems, and when I do wrong, I will expect adequate punishment just like everyone else.  Think about it, if it were anyone else, then they probably wouldn’t have received the support Ant has. That said, the average Joe wouldn’t have had this much public backlash. I wish the media would just leave Ant alone. He deserves adequate punishment for the crime he committed, but he doesn’t deserve to be ridiculed and mocked all over the national newspapers.

Here’s to his recovery…

I absolutely love Ant McPartlin, I’ve grown up watching him and Dec grace my television screen over many years, and I wish him all the very best of luck in recovery. Thank god no one was hurt and he can move forward from this. It very easily could have been a different story. But for all the people getting angry about negative reactions towards Ant, understand that he must be held accountable and we cannot let mental health be the excuse.  If anything, this just goes to show that no one is exempt from mental health issues, not even the rich and famous. We all have problems, but it must be ten times harder having a spotlight shining on all of them.

Let us condemn his actions, but let us be kind. Saturday night takeaway is going to be weird tonight, but I’m glad that Ant is taking a step back and prioritising his recovery. People like Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, even Ant, they show us that mental health is real. It isn’t always a product of your lifestyle. You can have every opportunity at your fingertips and still feel hopeless. It’s okay to acknowledge that and it’s a step in the right direction. The support Ant has received has been heart-warming and seeing people so empathetic towards mental health has been refreshing to say the least, but we need to remember that mental health is a reason, but never an excuse.

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