You’re having a rough day.
You forgot an assignment, or haven’t slept, or your car just became the next victim of a hit-and-run.
Or maybe you’re just not feeling good.
Not the “I-need-a-Nyquil-this-second” kind of feeling, more of a general disdain for the past day, or week, or year. You just feel, well, bad.
And, that’s ok.
I am by no means an expert when it comes to these sort of things. I’ve been lucky enough to never have been diagnosed with a mental illness, but from what I’ve seen friends and family go through, it looks like it can be pretty rough. One family member cried for hours when they saw they had served someone a potato with a black eye. Another asks the same thing three times to make sure we completely understand what they’re saying. A close friend of mine once broke down because he couldn’t find an umbrella.
Anxiety is more common in my family than depression. In fact, I’m the only female in my family not to have been diagnosed with it. I cannot say this enough: anxiety isn’t a mood, it is a disorder. People who suffer from anxiety or depression can’t fully control their emotions. Yes, they might overreact to some things, or overly obsess over small details, but that’s something they can’t immediately control.
Though awareness has substantially increased, the stigma of mental illness still stands. The most effective way of breaking this stigma is by talking about it. If you know someone who is suffering from anxiety, depression, OCD, or any other mental illness, reach out. Be there for them. If they need to talk, lend an ear. If they need to cry, lend a shoulder. These aren’t illnesses caused by some microscopic amoeba ready to catch its next victim. These illnesses don’t define the people they take hold of. Mentally ill people are still living, breathing human beings. Yes, they would like to feel happy again, and I’m betting that we’d all love to see a less-stressed world. So why not do our best to make that possible?
There isn’t really a point in telling someone with a mental illness to just ‘look at the bright side’. That’s like Velma to find a needle haunted haystack without her glasses. Velma doesn’t have the same vision as Daphne, Fred, Shaggy, Daphne, or even Scooby. Even if Velma had the brains to find and light a match to burn the haystack (which she most definitely does), it’s not going to be nearly as easy for her to find a light as it would be for Daphne or Shaggy. If someone with a mental illness reaches out, don’t just tell them where the light is, help them find it.