Eight Things You Should Never Say To Someone With A Mental Illness
Health and Wellness

Eight Things You Should Never Say To Someone With A Mental Illness

You could be really hurting someone without even knowing it; stop being part of the problem.

Eight Things You Should Never Say To Someone With A Mental Illness
Emotional Resource Center

I got diagnosed with generalized anxiety and bipolar II disorder about two and a half years ago, and I was struggling for a long time before that. Believe me when I tell you that you just don't understand what that means. People without mental illnesses simply can't fathom the difficulty that someone with it faces. Which is fine, I'm not angry at those people. Some days I wish I was them.

But what does bother me is when they start saying detrimental things as if they understand what I'm going through. What's worse is that many people don't even think before they say these things. Either that, or they simply don't care. It's so frustrating, and I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. So, to try and help you not be the next ignorant person to say something offensive, here's eight things you just shouldn't say to someone with a mental illness.

1. "It's all in your head."

Yes, and that asthma is all in your chest. Please, whatever you do, don't say this to someone who's struggling with a mental illness. Because yes, it is literally in their head, but that doesn't make it invalid. Trust me, the hardest thing I've experienced in life so far is having to fight against my own mind every day. You don't understand that unless you've lived it, so the best thing you can do is understand that you don't understand. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches in the long run if you just realize that you never really know how much someone is struggling.

2. "You're doing this for the attention."

Honestly, in my experience, the last thing people struggling with mental illness want is attention. People who deal with self-harm especially often have to endure this comment from everyone. Parents, friends, and even strangers. If we actually wanted attention, don't you think we'd make a bigger show of our cuts, our panic attacks, our crippling depression? Don't you think we'd wear it like a badge of honor if we actually wanted attention? Everyone I know does everything they to hide their pain and pretend like everything's okay. So if someone trusts you enough to be honest with you about what they're going through, don't make them regret it by making some snide comment about attention-seeking.

3. "Suck it up."

No. Mental illness is not something you can just get over with enough effort and willpower. It can be improved and made more manageable through a lot of therapy and medication, but it cannot be eradicated. It doesn't go away. No amount of "suck it up" or "be a man/woman" will magically change the fact that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way their brain works. It's a chemical imbalance, not a funk that can be broken with enough hard work. It's understandable why someone would say this, as most problems in life can be fixed if you try hard enough. But that isn't how mental illness works. You wouldn't tell someone with cancer to just get over it, would you?

4. "______ has it worse than you."

One of the first things they taught me at the mental hospital was that comparing pain is unhealthy and dangerous. For all the things that were wrong about that place, that was very, very right. I've been told everything from "That girl has attempted more times than you" to "There are starving children in Africa and you're caught up in your own insignificant problems" and it's really asinine if you think about it. Is it unacceptable to be happy because someone else is happier? No. So why would it be wrong to be sad when someone else is sadder? All saying that does is make that person feel guilty for having problems, which makes them far less likely to reach out for help.

5. "Happiness is a choice."

My grandma says this all the time. It's a nice idea, self-empowering and positive. It comes from the right place, too. All it's trying to say is that you have the power to improve your own life. However, when told to someone who is constantly sad, angry, anxious, jumpy, or anything else, it can be taken to mean that you think they can snap their fingers and get better. That hurts, it really does. Don't plant that idea in someone's head who already feels insecure about the state of their mental health, that they're weak just because they're having a hard time. It stings, and it's something that's hard to shake once someone's said it. You can make someone start to feel inferior for something that's completely beyond their control.

6. "You're crazy."

You know, crazy is a relative term. It can be used to refer to anything from a wild kid to a drunk frat boy to a serial killer. However, when applied to someone with a mental illness, you make them feel even crazier than they already saw themselves as. We aren't delusional. We know there's something wrong with our brains, and it makes us feel insane sometimes. So if you tell us that you agree with us, that we're totally out of our minds, we're never going to stop seeing ourselves as monsters, because we think that the rest of the world sees us that way.

7. "You aren't even trying."

Trust me, if that person wasn't trying, they'd be dead. It's a constant struggle just to keep yourself alive, sane, to try and act like a normal person. Just because they aren't doing everything you think they should be doing, doesn't mean they're sitting on their butts all day feeling sorry for themselves. Normal everyday activities can be nearly impossible for someone with a mental illness. Someone with anxiety would probably rather die than give a presentation in class. For a depressed person, getting up to go to school in the morning could take literally all their energy. If someone is trying to quit self-harm, simply getting through the day without it can be nearly impossible. It's an entirely different lifestyle, and trust me when I tell you that you don't understand how hard someone could be trying just to be there in front of you.

8. "It's just a phase."

It's really not. Mental illness is a lifelong struggle. It isn't like the bouts of sadness that everyone goes through, like after a breakup or a rejection letter from a college. Mental illness is suddenly being on the verge of tears for no reason. It's being curled up in a corner with numb fingers and the ground falling out from under you, hyperventilating with your heart beating 100 miles an hour. It's not being able to do the things that every teenager should be able to do, like go to dances and out on dates, because it makes you too anxious. It's being angry with everyone who doesn't deserve it and not being able to explain why. It's being incredibly happy one minute, and suicidal the next. It's knowing you're being completely irrational but not being able to stop it. It's things I can't even describe because I know that I don't fully understand it, because I haven't gone through it. But that's what someone who's mentally ill goes through on a daily basis. It's like nothing you've ever experienced. So don't tell someone that it's just a phase, that it'll pass, because they know it won't and you're just making them feel more alone.

So there you have it. Hopefully, now you know a little bit about what goes on inside a mentally ill person's head, so you can be sympathetic and understanding the next time around. The best thing you can do is just be there for your friends who are struggling. You never really know what someone could be going through, and the last thing you want to do is contribute to the problem.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Being a pharmacy technician never held as many risks as it does now. Exposure too hazardous conditions were little to none, and garbing up was only conducted in IV compounding. But, now, in order to give nurses the medications they need to help their patients, they need us, pharmacy technicians.

Keep Reading... Show less

Epic Activewear Deals Every Leggings-Lover Needs To Know About From Nordstrom's Biggest Sale

Wearing my pleather Alo leggings till someone physically removes them from my body.

I'll be the first to admit I'm not an athletic person, at all. Since junior high school, I've been happily cheering my friends on at their football games and soccer matches from the sidelines as long as I could go home to my yoga mat and spend Sunday mornings at Pilates with my mom's friends.

Weekends are often spent in my casual wear, from the second I throw them on for morning meditation through running errands and evening walks. No, I won't be running a marathon or joining my friend's volleyball league anytime soon.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

11 Reasons Why Getting A Cat Is The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Mental Health

Cats may mess up your puzzles but they'll always love you unconditionally — as long as you have some catnip, that is.

Scout Guarino

Alright, everyone, it's time to stop spreading the rumor that all cats are mean, aloof, and hate everyone. Like dogs, each cat has its own personality and tendencies. Some like a lot of attention, some like less — each person has to find the right cat for them. As for me, my cats Bienfu and Reptar have seen me at my worst, but they've also helped pull me out of it. They're a constant in my life and they give me the strength to get through the day in spite of my depression, and there's even scientific evidence to support it!

Keep Reading... Show less

TikTok was banned by the president, but Instagram is here with its newest feature called Reel. Many of us are still wondering why TikTok was being banned in the first place. Was it all the dangerous TikTok trends? It was because of a security concern, but not in the way you might think.

TikTok is owned by Dancebyte, which is a China-owned company. Basically, just like any other app, TikTok collects the user's data. The main question to ask yourself when investing in any app or marketing tools who will be owning my data? So yes, China currently owns all the TikTok user's data worldwide.

Keep Reading... Show less

I've always been a huge Disney villain fan — whether it was for their cryptic one-liners, enviable outfits, or sidekick banter. Some of the most iconic lines from cinematic history have been said by the characters we love to hate and occasionally dress up as once a year.

The fear-mongering Gaston I now find hilariously cringe-worthy is now charming and oftentimes considered by fans as rightfully justified in his actions. Die-hard fans of the Disney villain fan club claim alternate egos in their favorite evil characters, adopting their hilarious witticisms into everyday life.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Reasons To Put The Damn Mask On, And Stop Fussing With It

COVID-19 is real people, do your part to protect yourself and others.

Ilana Stein

With the ever-changing reality of our world due to COVID-19, there has been one constant throughout these past unforeseen months, masks. Ever since coronavirus hit the ground running in the US, the CDC has been recommending social distancing and mask-wearing to stop the rapid spread.

Many people have been great about adhering to these policies, mandates, and suggested uses, but others, not so much.

Keep Reading... Show less

Anyone who goes to Panera Bread will tell you that their mac and cheese is to die for. If you're a huge fan of their mac and cheese, you won't believe the new recipe they're coming out with!

Keep Reading... Show less

I've been an athlete my entire life. I love movement and I've been jumping, kicking, swimming, dancing, throwing, you name it since I was in diapers. I'm also pretty competitive and probably went through a few sore loser phases. What can I say? I like to win, and losing can sometimes feel like I've failed. Especially, when your competitor is your best friend or someone that you worked all year long to defeat.

Keep Reading... Show less

I Asked My Boyfriend His Opinion On Liking Other Girls’ Pictures, And, Spoiler Alert, It's Cheating

"When you get into a relationship and you're in love, you have to realize that liking photos is for the single lifestyle."

Ladies, listen up. If you are in a relationship with a guy and he is liking other girls' pictures on social media, then it's a red flag. A man who can look at someone else and show interest by liking it means he doesn't care about your feelings AT ALL.

Keep Reading... Show less

Picture this, we're settling into our date, the conversation is flowing, we're ordering drinks, laughing, and then it happens... the job convo.

Him: "So what do you do?"
Me: "I'm a dating and relationships editor."

Keep Reading... Show less

- I have extremely sensitive skin, which is why I have always resorted to a plant-based organic beauty line such as Radha Beauty.

- Radha Beauty won me over years ago when I was looking for organic skincare brands.

- I was so excited to see they launched a new line incorporating USDA organic rosehip oil, so when their PR team sent me some, I could not have been more thrilled.

- After a week of using the products, my face felt as smooth as a baby's, looked more glowy than ever, and even cured some of my summer sunburn.

Radha Beauty isn't just a best-selling beauty brand on Amazon — it's a USDA-certified organic beauty brand I live by, and anyone who knows me knows I am all about holistic wellness.

Typically, it only takes three days for me to tell if a skin product is working or not because I have extremely sensitive skin. It's also why I have always stuck by plant-based organic beauty lines such as Radha Beauty.

Keep Reading... Show less

I have definitely had my fair share of breakups. I broke up with my high school sweetheart my second semester of college (he was cheating on me), I had a breakup with another guy I thought I was going to marry, and others in between. Regardless of whether you're the one doing the dumping or being dumped, breakups can HURT.

Keep Reading... Show less

Social media is something many of us have been addicted to (whether we want to believe it or not) since the moment we got it. I remember getting Facebook at 10. Instantly I was hooked. I loved being able to share my life with people, a little too much in my opinion, and I loved being able to see how/what other people were doing all the time.

Keep Reading... Show less

I am not in any way any sort of medical expert. These are just some tricks that work for me and have worked for others who also suffer from anxiety. These may not work for everyone, but I do hope these help some people in their fight against anxiety.

Keep Reading... Show less

-Having struggled with acne prone skin for years, I was cautious to try a new serum on top of the other products I've come to trust.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments