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

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

But probably have.

Often it's hard to know how our words can affect someone because we only ever stand in our own shoes. To help with that, I've compiled a list of things you really shouldn't say and the responses you definitely would get if you were talking to someone with a mental illness about their mental illness. The items on this list come straight from the suggestions of real people living with mental illness.

1. You’re being Dramatic

I’m being dramatic? Seriously? Mental illness is not equivalent to breaking a shoe and screaming about it for days. Often, it is an actual chemical imbalance, or it manifests in panic attacks that symptoms mimic heart attacks, or when someone is triggered their entire body might break out into hives, or it takes over one's life so much that the idea of getting out of bed in the morning is rationalized to be the worst thing that could possibly have to happen.

So you’re correct about one thing- mental illness is completely dramatic for the person who has it. But it is in no way, shape, or form a person BEING dramatic.

2. Try ignoring it

Oh wow! Great advice! I didn’t try ignoring it! I mean, I’ve tried psychologists, psychiatrists, medication,and lifestyle changes, but hey- maybe I could try ignoring it! Thanks for the peachy suggestion.

Obviously everyone with a mental illness has tried ignoring it. It creates way more problems than good. As you saw with number one, it's something that shouldn’t, and simply can’t be ignored. It's so important to take some time to focus on it and heal. Ignoring is bad.

3. OR Try just living with it

Yeah, you know- tried that and then I literally wanted to kill myself so I think I'll keep doing it my way.

4. Maybe you could trigger yourself more so you can practice handling it?

Oh I didn’t realize your CPA qualified you to be a practicing psychologist! Do I have to pay you for this session or is it on the house?

Like I said earlier- symptoms that look like a heart attack. I don’t tell someone with an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts to go eat peanuts to build their tolerance. They would die. That would be dumb.

5. Well at least you don’t have to deal with (insert bad thing here).

Do you like when people minimize the things in your life? No. So don’t minimize mine. Everyone has their struggles. No need to compare.

6. Why are you trying to make your whole life a saga?

To suggest (or straight out say) that someone is intentionally putting themselves in this situation is straight up ridiculous. It is demoralizing to hear a person tell you that you enjoy the drama that surrounds mental illness. The symptoms people with mental illness face are not a saga like twilight—they are a nightmare that you need to learn to reduce the power of. Don’t suggest that I create this life for myself as if I’m trying to write a good story. If I wanted a story, I would make myself a princess.

7. But you seem so normal/ you look healthy? Are you sure?

Again, your MD comes from which university? Thanks for telling me you think based on whatever limited knowledge you have of my physical appearance or personality that I’m totally fine. Really appreciate it. I'll just call up the pharmacy and tell them I won’t be needing that prescription refilled being that I’m totally cured!

Mental illness manifests differently in every single person- don't presume you know what it looks like in everyone, even if you've seen what it looks like in some people.

8. It's giving me such PTSD! OR- Oh my gosh I’m so depressed! OR- That girl looks totally anorexic. OR- You sound schitzo. OR- I wanted to kill myself it was so boring. OR- Yeah that test gave me a panic attack.

Be more insensitive, I dare you. When someone is actually living with or knows someone with PTSD, depression, anorexia, schizophrenia, suicidal thoughts, or an anxiety disorder (among many other mental illnesses), hearing you define something that is so clearly not one of these illnesses as such, their entire world is crushed. Anyone who knows the true severity and importance of taking these illnesses seriously, knows that they are not something to be taken lightly and when you do that, you show them just how ill-equipped the world is to treat them like people. It's crushing. You make them feel crazy. Which brings us to...

9. So you’re crazy (with a smile).

Yeah that joke isn’t funny. Just don’t.

10. If you have an eating disorder, you should be really skinny right?

How naive are you? That isn’t how eating disorders work.

11. Why can’t you just eat? Cake isn’t scary. What's the big deal?

Again, not how eating disorders work. It is a big deal, because it isn’t a fear of cake like your little sister is afraid of tuna fish- it is a mental illness. Why don’t you just jump out of a plane without a parachute? That is essentially what you’re asking.

12. Sometimes when I’m sad I (insert coping method here)

I’m not sad. My boyfriend did not just break up with me. I did not just fail a test. I cannot eat a bunch of ice-cream or go pet a puppy and call it a day. With an illness like depression or bipolar disorder (among others), a person isn’t “sad” because something unfortunate has happened to them. People can have depressive episodes for seemingly no reason other than their mental illness. Sometimes people can fall into long-term episodes, lasting days, months, even years. Thanks for the advice but I don’t need to “go for a jog.”

13. I get it.

No, you don’t.

Now instead of ending and leaving you with a whole list of things you definitely can't say, here are a couple of things you could try to say instead-

  1. I trust you
  2. I support you
  3. I’m here for you whenever you decided you need
  4. I value you in my life
  5. I know I could never fully understand, but I’m always here to listen.

People with mental illness need to know they have you as a rock. That you will always trust and support and value them, not that you think theyre just being dramatic. The truth is, you might never understand, in fact, you probably won’t but thats okay- you don’t need to. you just need to be there.

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.


So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?



Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Buying New Clothes Every Month Has Been The Key To Helping Me Become Happy With My Body Again

Loving my body in new outfits has boosted my self image so much.


Being body-positive has been really hard for me to do throughout 2019, despite there being an overwhelming surge in body-positivity around me, whether through my friends and family or YouTube. I look in the mirror and what I see is someone I want to make a jean size or two smaller like in the past. That being said, I've slowly been coming around to accepting the body I have now, instead of bashing it constantly. A key way I've come to accept the body I'm in now is through buying myself something new every month, like a new T-shirt or a pair of jeans or sneakers that help me see myself in a positive light. When I'm in a new outfit, I feel invincible. I don't think about how pudgy my stomach is, or about the hair I have growing in random places, like my neck or on my nose (yes, not just in, but ON too).

My bank account tends to suffer as of recently because of this, but it's worth it when I can genuinely feel good in what I am wearing every day. I like to wake up and think about how many outfits I can put together, ready to post my #OOTD for Snapchat without caring what anyone thinks. I've let social media dictate how I feel about myself more than I care to admit. I see how perfect all the models are in everything they're wearing from brands I know and love, yet when I try the same thing on, it's a whole different ugly story.

I don't enjoy trying things on to avoid the shame I feel when things don't fit me right, or if something that I thought would flatter me actually makes me look like a sack of potatoes. Instagram has really hurt my body image a lot — enough to make me delete it for a week after one post sent me spiraling. Going through those bumps made me finally realize it's not my fault if something doesn't fit. Sizes range depending on the item, it's the clothing items fault, not mine. Now that I see that, it's easier to brush off something not fitting me as it should. I know my size very well in the stores I frequent the most, so it's easier for me to pick out things I know will look good and not have to worry about the sizing issue.

Buying yourself something new is not something you should limit to every few months or longer. You shouldn't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone price wise every once and a while either. Coupons exist, stories always offer you them when you first sign up to receive emails and even texts. You can be crafty and still get a high price item for less. If you treat yourself to cheap things, you won't feel half as good as you want to. Granted, sticking to a limit is important but there's no shame in going over the limit every once and a while.

I love shopping as much as I love country music and writing short stories — a lot. Yes, I get yelled at almost every time I get something new. I need to save my money for important things, like for my sorority or for medical issues that could suddenly arise, or for utilities at my house next year off campus.

However, my mental well-being is not something I can ignore.

I can't push the good feelings aside to save 30 or 40 bucks a month. I don't want to feel as low as I've felt about myself anymore. I'm tired of feeling sad or angry at who I am, and I want to learn how to accept myself as I am. Buying myself something new, like clothes, is what offers a positive light to view myself under.

Whether you treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, or to face masks, or to a new movie when it comes out — don't be afraid to do it. Put yourself first and you'll realize your worth and how much you've been ignoring it in the face of poor confidence.

My confidence isn't back up to where it used to be, but it's getting there.

It may not be the most cash efficient method of self-love, but my body positivity is better than it was a few months ago. Aerie and American Eagle have really helped me become happier with my body, and I can't thank them enough for being more inclusive for people like me who are learning to love themselves again in a new body.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us hoping to promote our own body positivity, and it could all start with a simple purchase from your favorite store after you read this.

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