It’s a very fine line between the two. My own mental illness has made me say, react, or act in ways that are not appropriate to the situation. I find the easiest way for myself to skirt that line is to simply apologize and not try to explain, because it’s too difficult for it not sound like an excuse. If an apology with explanation is warranted or expected, I try to follow these guidelines when I do.
It can be too easy, as a mental illness survivor, to use it as a crutch. A get out of jail free card. But, we still live in a world of cause and effect — actions and reactions and consequences. While including our illness as part of an explanation may help with understanding and open an easier path to forgiveness, we should also not be surprised when it doesn’t. When we are called to account just like anyone else would be. We should accept such a fate as a learning experience. Give ourselves some grace and embrace the opportunity to continue our path toward healing.