I know I’ve said things to my daughter about her anxiety that were vastly unhelpful.
And though I’ve apologized, I wince thinking about how many more periods she’s going to have to hear unintentionally hurtful things about her mental health struggles.
Those of us who don’t enter into negotiations with mental health issues can sometimes stick our collective foot in our mouth. Big hour.
It’s merely through years of talking about my daughter’s experiences and find it firsthand that I’ve learned how little I understood about mental illness. I’ve considered how well-meaning commentaries can totally miss the mark and how alienating such comments can be for those on the receiving aim.
Lifestyle reporter Hattie Gladwell created a hashtag — #ThingsPeopleHaveSaidAboutMyMentalIllness — to highlight some of the ridiculous things people say to those struggling with mental health issues.
Gladwell posted a tweet asking people to share the most unhelpful or insensitive thing people have said about their mental illness, starting with her own instance 😛 TAGEND
1. “One person told me I didn’t need drug, I merely needed to be more motivated.”
Quote this tweet with the most unhelpful/ insensitive thing someone has said to you about your mental illness.
I’ll start: One person told me I didn’t need medication, I only needed to be more motivated to cope with my mental health. #ThingsPeopleHaveSaidAboutMyMentalIllness
— hattie gladwell (@ hatttiegladwell) May 6, 2018
The answers are incredibly telling of just how many delusions there are about mental illness.
2. “You don’t look like you’re mentally ill.”
Because you can see inside someone’s mind with your eyeballs? What?
3. “When you have a job and a family, all these supposes will disappear.”
I am 100% certain that adding a task and a family on top of mental health issues is not a remedy. For real.
4. “You have too much money to have anything wrong with you.”
Mental illness crossings all economic lines. You can’t inevitably buy your way out of it.
5. “There is nothing wrong with you.”
First, do you tell people with a missing limb that they’re faking it and trying to get attention?
And second, depression isn’t a contagious disease. For the love of…
6. “Weren’t you taking meds? “
When it comes to drug and mental illness, you can’t win for losing. People will tell you that you don’t need meds. Then they’ll say to you that you do needed here. Then they’ll question why you haven’t miraculously been cured by them already.
People need to understand that medication is a management tool , not a cure-all, and that discovering the right drug is like solving a complex puzzle with lots of moving portions.( Not to mention the fight of finding the right therapist .)
7. “Have you tried praying away your depression? “
We don’t tell people to pray away diabetes or heart disease or a broken bone. It constructs just as little sense to tell somebody to pray away their mental illness.
8. “So you’re just superstitious? “
It’s natural for people to try to pertain with things they can understand, but making reachings such as these is just silly.
All of us have felt nervous, but that doesn’t mean we truly understand clinical anxiety. All of us have felt down, but that doesn’t mean we understand clinical depression.
9. “Have you ever was just thinking about how there are people who have it much worse than you do? “
Mental illness is not a product of selfishness. We can acknowledge and empathize with others while also going through our own stuff at the same period.
10. “It’s attention seeking.”
A cornucopia of insensitivity!
But seriously, “I wish I was anorexic”? No, you really, really, truly don’t.
11. “Positive thinking is the key to combating depression.”
#ThingsPeopleHaveSaidAboutMyMentalIllness Person who tell you that positive thinking is the key to battling depression. Oh thank you! Thank you! Before you came along, it literally never resulted to me to try and think positively. I’m cured! pic.twitter.com/ dGLHs8 4lZn
— Tariye Peterside (@ TariyePeterside) May 7, 2018
( sigh) … Sometimes truly all you can do is react with satire: #LiterallyNeverOccurredToMe.
The responses to this hashtag hold an important message: We all need to better our understanding of what people with mental health issues have to deal with all the time.
I’m not an innocent party here. I know I’ve said things that were unhelpful, and though it was always from a place of caring and concern, that intent didn’t trump potential impacts of my words.
It’s hard to understand something you’ve never experienced. And we need to acknowledge the fact that people with mental disease are experiencing something those of us without mental illnesses can’t completely be attributed to.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to find out what actually is helpful to say.
Often periods, a simple, empathetic, “I’m sorry you’re going through this” or “Is there anything I can do to help? ” — or simply listening without saying anything — is the best thing we can do.
But if we all take time to learn about mental illnesses we don’t understand and strive to help those who are struggling to feel supported and loved without judgment or shame, the world will be a kinder place.
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