6 Things You Shouldn't Say To Someone With A Mental Illness

6 Things You Should NEVER Say To Someone With A Mental Illness

Don't act like their doctor, act like their friend.

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Mental illnesses don't discriminate, no matter your race, age, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status. Approximately 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental illness each year worldwide, that's about 450 million people. There has been so much growth in the way society thinks and acts about mental illness, but it isn't a secret that there's still work that needs to be done.

I can't even count the number of times someone said something so insensitive to me about my mental illness and they genuinely thought they were helping. What you say to someone affects them more than you may realize, and while trying to help someone with a mental illness it's important to choose your words carefully.

Here are 6 things to NEVER say to someone with a mental illness, and some better alternatives:

1. "It could be worse/others have it worse than you."

Trust me, I know things could be worse. Things could always be worse, and I am very aware that others have a much harder life than me. But it's insensitive to say to someone that just because someone else has it worse that they have no right in feeling the pain that they feel. It's not fair to invalidate someone's mental illness/struggles that come with it just because others have it worse.

Try instead:

"I'm sorry you're going through this."

"I'm proud of you for continuing to push through these hard times."

2. "You need to change your attitude/stop focusing on all the negative."

This is one that always hurts me the most. I understand changing perspective can be helpful, but it sure as hell doesn't just magically make everything better. Telling someone they need to stop focusing on all the bad makes them feel even worse about themselves, that it is their fault for feeling the way that they do.

This makes people with mental illnesses feel like a failure and that they alone are the reason for their pain. MENTAL ILLNESS IS MORE THAN JUST A BAD MINDSET. Mental illnesses are chemical imbalances, they are ultimately a physiological issue that takes more to fix than just "changing your attitude."

Try instead:

"You seem to be having a difficult time and I just want you to know I'm here."

"You have so much going on, how can I help?"

3. "Just snap out of it."

This one fits into the two above, but I thought it would be worth mentioning since I hear this almost daily. I cannot just "snap out of it" when I'm having an episode. This is like telling someone with a broken bone or the flu to "just snap out of it, you're really bringing me down and frustrating me." I can't believe I still hear this, especially from people who claim to care about me. I understand it's hard to want to be having a good time and someone is suddenly in a bad mood, but that doesn't mean I get to just push my mental illness aside when it isn't a convenient time.

Do you think we like to have our mental illness hit during a social event, date, vacation, etc.? I wish I could just snap out of it, you have no idea how badly I wish I could just push it away when I wanted to. But this is insanely insensitive to expect someone to just "turn off" their mental illness because it's an inconvenient time for someone else.

Try instead:

"Is there anything I can get you or do for you?"

"Do you need some space or do you want me here?"

4. "Everyone is going through something."

Yes, as I stated 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental illness. I know how hard it is for everyone having to deal with something like this. But it's important to note that mental illness is never the same for any two people. It affects everyone differently.

Do you realize how selfish it is to try and discredit what someone else is feeling just because "everyone else has something going on?" I promise, I do realize that I'm not the only one who is plagued by mental illness, but that doesn't discredit mine and doesn't mean I'm not allowed to feel the way I do.

Try instead:

"You have a lot going on and you're doing great."

"You're so strong, I'm here for you."

5. "Have you tried working out, meditation, herbal tea, etc.?"

This one drives me insane for a few reasons. First, it suggests that by just changing your mindset and your activities that you're going to be able to fix every single thing. Let me tell you right now, that doesn't work for a lot (if not most) people. Natural remedies may help to some degree, but it's also important to note again that mental illness is different for everyone.

Some of these may help some people, but I can say for me personally none of this helps me significantly in any way. They may help, but are not automatic fixes. This discredits someone's mental illness by suggesting it's all in their head. The second thing that frustrates me about this is that it suggests that someone isn't seeking treatment.

Try instead:

"What works for you?"

"Is there anything that you've found that will help you in this moment?"

6. "I don't understand why you can't go to work/class?"

I've been getting this one a lot recently. "Nobody likes their job, you need to get over it and go to work." This is incredibly hurtful. What you see is someone who is smart and capable that appears to just be lazy. I hate every single time I call into work or don't go to class because I'm having a particularly bad mental health day. But nothing makes it worse than when friends for family berate you for not going, saying that you need to suck it up and go or that everyone has to do it even if they don't like it.

Again, mental illness is different for everyone. I applaud those with mental illnesses that are able to go to work or class every single day, and I wish I could, but my mental health will always come first. People need to realize that by harassing someone for not being able to handle the same things as them it either makes them feel like a failure or pushes them to go which in turns makes their mental illness that much worse.

Try instead:

"It's okay to take a day for yourself, your health matters."

"Don't push yourself, I want you to be healthy."

There are a million different things I could put on this list, but I hope these are a start for educating people what not to say to people with mental illnesses. I understand a lot of the time you're just trying to help, but it's important to realize that even with good intentions what you say often seems insensitive and hurts more than it helps.

My best advice: listen to what someone has to say, offer your help, and let them know you're there for them. Don't act like you know what's best for them, because you don't. Each mental illness is unique to each person, if something you've said to someone else worked for them it will not necessarily help someone else. Don't act like their doctor, act like their friend.

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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You Can Get In 'Bad Moods' And Still Be A Positive Person

No, it's not contradictory. It's the truth.

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For 10 straight years of my life, starting in eighth grade, I was definitely not considered a happy-go-lucky girl. I was consistently at a comfortable level of happiness, sure, but was I jumping for joy for every part of my day without a complaint? Hell no, I had something to say about nearly everything with my eyes practically rolling out of my skull. Now? I am that happy presence in the room, and I have fallen in love with my new self. Is that weird? Maybe. Is it something so simple that absolutely anyone can achieve it? Absofuckinglutely.

What am I like now? Let me break it down for you, and then I want you to try to say that you have no interest in being this way in your own life, too. These are some of the smallest, yet miraculous changes I have ever applied to my life. My normally structured everyday life, my routines and my habits (good and bad).

Some of the easiest parts of your life are the hardest to break. If you understand that sentence to the depth that I'm trying to convey it, then your life is about to change.

I get up the first time I hear my alarm, every morning. I haven't pressed "snooze" in about six months. I get up at 5:02 am every single day, do you know how hard that is?! But do you know it's the easiest way to make for better days? Start your days better, and you'll see better days.

Get excited to light that morning candle because it's still dark out. A new outfit combination to keep things interesting, and feeling that hot water wake you up and release any tension in your body and bones from the night before. It's a new day, and it's up to you to make it a damn good one.

Right there, you're thinking "I can't be a positive person because sometimes I don't have a good day." Ummm, what? Robot? Is that you?

We all have bad days. Complete dog shit days, actually. Just because we are in the process or are these "newly born positive hippie fairy people", does not mean we can control the universe and what it does to us. The world will break your heart six times by Sunday and that's a damn fact. However, you can fall in love with seven of those days. Stay a step ahead of yourself. You won't regret it.

How do you handle the bad days? Simplicity here too.

Work on what you say and how you say it. I say hello to anyone I make eye contact with. Do you know how many people I pass running through meetings and a high school all day long? That's a lot of smiles. And when it comes to conversations, I never end one sentence on a negative note. Even when I'm complaining, I make sure to find a silver lining, regardless of its size, to end my sentence.

Find that little glimmer of hope and positivity, no matter how stereotypical it seems, and emphasize on it.

Make sure you complete that sentence.

Make sure people hear you.

And yes, sometimes things just really are that bad, and you can't find a good in why something happened when it did, the way it did, or why you're feeling the way you do about it. Guess what? Not an excuse. You can still find hope, but only if you're looking. "Hey, that was so shitty and I am taking it so hard and I really hate everything right now, but it could've been worse, and at least I never have to live today again."

Easy as Sunday morning, right?

You don't have to "STAY POSITIVE" to be a positive person. You just have to promise to always try your best to stay positive. That's literally all it takes. That's it.

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