Throughout my recognized time living with mental illnesses, I have run into a few different people who say they are trying to support me and the active recovery it takes to live with a mental illness, but in all reality they are saying "I get that you're struggling, but if you drink water and meditate, everything will be fine". Every time I am given this extremely sage of advice, I smile with my biggest "thank you, now walk away" smile and tell them I'll try that in the most sarcastic way possible.
Some of you may be thinking: "well, if you're on medication and getting therapy you should just be able to cope and get over the chemical imbalances in your head, right?" Wrong. You are not lifting me up and empowering me by telling me that everything will be fine in the future and that I am strong so therefore that equals my ability to make everything right. On my worst days it does not seem as though everything will be fine. And although it sounds like you're giving encouragement when you affirm that there will be better days--you are doing just the opposite.
You are suggesting that these feelings are fleeting and will be gone in a matter of hours, days, or weeks. When, in all reality, they are ever-present, albeit sometimes at lesser degrees and others at higher degrees of influence. At any given minute things are not going to be fully fine in the scheme of things. The chemical imbalance never goes away--we just have good periods of being able to cope with the side effects of our shortcomings. On your bad days it might work to tell yourself everything will be okay, but that is wholly true for you. It is not always that way for people living with mental illnesses.
Instead of reminding me that things are, in fact, not fine at the moment of our conversations, open up a conversation as to what makes things not so great at the moment. Ask why I feel that way; if I don't have a concrete example try to see if anything may have happened in the past few days that could have triggered these feelings. And, if all else fails, try to distract me. Turn on a funny TV show, pull out the coloring books (but don't suggest that they will cure everything), or suggest an ice cream trip. Honestly, even if I do open up, suggest an ice cream trip or a TV show or coloring books: they never hurt.
To the people who tell me "everything will be fine": next time those words start to slip from your tongue, rethink your approach. Instead of encouraging me to push down and not debrief the feelings I am experiencing in search of the "fine" days, help me find the source of my distress in order to avoid any triggers of those sorts in the future.
An "unfine" person
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