What You Don’t Get to Say to People With Mental Illness

They say to write what you know, and if that’s true, here’s what you don’t get to say to us.

1)      Snap out of it. If I could snap out of it, I wouldn’t be here right now in this moment. Yes, I know everyone feels sadness at some point in their life, but in my case “at some point in their life” translates to “every freakin’ day,” or a hopeless pit of despair where it’s so dark, I’ve forgotten what light looks like. And I know everyone feels anxious, but that’s not the same as having an anxiety attack, which is best described as: “a terrifying lightning storm of despair, self-hatred, and the absolute certainty of my immediate death.”

 

2)      You don’t look depressed or conversely, you look depressed. Thank you, really I appreciate it. Thank you for letting me know I can’t be sad, because I don’t look sad. Conversely, thank you for letting me know you can see my sadness. I appreciate knowing that it must be real now.

 

 

3)      You must have asked for it somehow, or you must have done something wrong to be depressed. I asked for a pony, but all I got was this lousy feeling of impending doom. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

 

4)      What’s wrong?  I don’t know what’s wrong. If I did, I probably wouldn’t be here, right now, in this moment. Yes, it’s true that a particular event sparked what would eventually become known as Depression, but right here, right now, in this moment, everything’s wrong and nothing’s wrong, and I’m still trying to figure out how that can be. (You can ask me what’s wrong, but don’t expect a coherent answer).

 

 

5)      Stop focusing on the bad stuff. Thanks, now I feel horrible about myself, because I’ve tried this many times. I’ve listed out all the good stuff about life, but it hasn’t worked so far. And right now, I’m not feeling very hopeful, because the Evening News begins with “Good Evening,” and then proceeds to list off all the reasons why it isn’t. And yes, they usually conclude with a little “bright spot” showing that there is in fact light at the end of the tunnel, but this tunnel isn’t getting any smaller, and I’m not getting any closer, and really, right now, the light bulb is rather dim. I think it needs to be changed. And you know it’s bad when a listed side effect of anti-depressants is: increased suicidal thoughts. I’m sorry, but isn’t that why we started taking this little happy pill to begin with: to make us just happy enough so we weren’t thinking about suicide all the time?

 

6)      Just pray about it. I have witnessed the power of prayer, but prayer can’t fix everything, and you’re making me believe that I don’t have enough faith. Are you implying that the way I feel somehow equates to my lack of faith? Because if so, let me explain to you that my faith is quite intact. Because it takes a lot of faith for me to get out of bed in the morning, to believe that the ground won’t fail beneath my feet. I have enough faith for the both of us.

 

7)      Being busy will help distract you. Ignoring an issue, doesn’t make it go away. I’ve discovered this when I ignore homework.

 

8)      Sleeping all the time isn’t healthy. Maybe not, but it’s the only escape I get from my feelings. If I could sleep for a week straight, I would. Because sometimes I have too much pain to be awake for. Sleeping is like death, without the commitment, because I know one day, I will be temporarily happy, and I want to be awake to see it.

 

9)      You’re doing this for attention. This is literally the worst thing to do for attention. If I wanted attention, I would wear a clown costume as I was riding a unicycle while juggling. It’s much easier. And that way, the stares and whispers would be because of something good.

 

10)   I understand. No you don’t. The only way you’d understand is if you have the same feelings I do.

 

Instead of saying those, try doing these instead:

1)      Sincerely listening to what we have to say. Let us vent. It’s healthy for both parties involved, because when you need someone to vent to, I’ll be there.

 

2)      Talk to us like we are normal people. Treating us like we are different is no good. Invite us to do things. We are the same person we were before, but we are just dealing with an issue less visible than a broken arm. We are not broken.

 

3)      Tell us that you still love us, and that you support us.

 

4)      Learn about the problem we are dealing with. Talk to other people you know who are struggling so you know better how to help us.

 

5)      Ask us what we need or how you can help. Even if that means sitting next to us so we are not alone.

 

 

Remember: You cannot cure us, but you can help make our lives more enjoyable.

 

see also: “What Doesn’t Kill You”  “You’re Better Off Dead

 

 

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