When you battle with mental illness, everyone seems to have an opinion. Here are three things I’m tired of being told about my mental illness:
1. “Hey, I’m just trying to help.”
The problem is, when you have a mental illness, everyone around you suddenly becomes a therapist, a doctor, or an expert on you and your meds and your lifestyle. If I had a dollar for every time someone offered up an unsolicited opinion on how I should go about my mental illness, I’d actually be able to pay off my student debt - and that’s no small feat. When people say this, they all think they are coming from a good place but we have experts on our story and our issues that know better than you, and who are actually helping us and know what they are talking about.
2. “You should try doing this, it worked SO WELL for my co-worker’s son’s friend’s brother.”
I shouldn’t even have to explain this: Just because some person had a treatment style or medication or technique work for them, does NOT mean it will work for anyone else. And considering I have been dealing with my mental illness for a long time, I have almost always heard of whatever it is and tried it for myself just to find it didn’t work in my case.
3. “I choose to be happy every day, you just have to choose to be happy, too!”
Dear lawwwwd does this one light a fire under me! Answer me truthfully, would you or would you not tell a cancer patient that the key to being healthy is to wake up every day and choose to be healthy? NO. Because that would be fundamentally ludicrous and you would look like an ignorant fool. Then please explain to me (actually don’t because nothing can rationalize this) why you would say this to someone suffering because of their mental illness? When I exhaust myself to scavenge the tiniest bits of pleasure and happiness out of my days, the sheer gall of someone trying to tell me that all I need to do is just “choose to be happy” is liable to make me visualize punching them square in their self-righteous face. The fact that I’m dressed and in public where you saw me and had the nerve to say that sh*t is testament to the fact that I AM ATTEMPTING to be happy because I found the energy to take care of myself and go through the routine of going out in public to run errands or see friends.
All in all, just keep your commentary to yourself, even if you think it’s going to be helpful or that it’s coming from a good place. Whether or not they say it to your face, the person with the mental illness that you felt the need to commentate to or educate about themselves really does not want or need to hear it. Stop talking, and listen. Really listen.