As my meet&greet project was such a huge success (if it hadn’t been for two people who answered I would’ve thought something went wrong when I published it) I thought it might be time for something “deeper”.
This is probably a topic that has been covered in many blogs similar to mine but nevertheless I have the feeling I should write about it: Things that people say when they hear about a mental health issue that can hurt those who have a disorder. I’m not going to talk about obviously insulting comments like “You’re a lunatic!” or “Are you stupid?” because I reckon that most people are able to recognize that those are not very helpful things to say.
I want to talk about things that people might say because they try to be helpful but really they aren’t. Lets start with a classic one:
- (To a depressed person) “Just cheer up, you have such an awesome life, you just have to try going out a little and you’ll feel better!” I’m sure those people think it’s an incredibly clever thing to say but when the mere thought of getting up and dressing frightens me to tears and walking to the bathroom exhausts me like running a marathon it’s literally impossible to “just cheer up”. If it was that easy, nobody would suffer from depression and it wouldn’t be an illness.
- (To somebody who’s going through a panic attack) “There’s no reason to be afraid.” Right. I know that. Still I feel as if I was dying right now. That’s the problem, you know. Just recall what you feel like when I put a spider onto your hand (if you’re afraid of spiders) or what you feel like when the flight attendants have to sit down (if you’re scared of flying) and then imagine that feeling hits you out of nowhere on a regular basis. I don’t care if there’s a reason because it’s not something I thought of but something I feel. You can’t take fear away by explaining.
- (To somebody who cuts) “That doesn’t make your problems go away!” I’m aware of that. I could probably explain what happens to a body that feels pain or what it is like to not feel your body for days but actually I don’t think that would make sense if you obviously think I’m too stupid to see that cutting doesn’t solve my problems.
- (Again to somebody who cuts) “You just want the attention!” Oh yeah right, that’s why I hide my cuts, put make-up on them or tell you I had an accident. I fucking don’t want the attention (and if I did, you should think of why such a drastic thing as self-harming is necessary).
- (To someone with whatever mental health issue) “You seem perfectly normal to me. I don’t think you’re sick.” How’s that supposed to help? I know that I should get an award for acting as if everything’s okay when really it isn’t – you don’t have to tell me that, it doesn’t comfort me. It just makes me feel as if you didn’t believe me and although my diagnosis is not that important to me I want it to be taken seriously. There is a reason for me seeing doctors, avoiding parties, taking meds or whatever else I do trying to cope. I know that I feel unwell so I don’t need you telling me that everything’s okay because you don’t see what I feel.
- (To an angry borderliner) “Have you thought about your friends/family?” Believe it or not, I have. I depend on them and I feel like shit most of the time because I don’t treat them as well as they deserve it. I don’t want to be an asshole and I bottle up most of the things that could end up in a rant to protect everyone but sometimes I fail in doing so. Sorry.
- (To anyone with a mental health issue) “You’re hiding behind your diagnosis. I know you’re sick but I don’t think it’s that bad.” Okay, so now I’m supposed to be grateful that you see that I’m not just my diagnosis – thank you…but no, it’s not okay, believe me, I’d rather have none of my “peculiarities”, I didn’t ask for being special. I mean, do you think the quickest spermatozoon was just allowed to pass because it was different? I don’t think so…
- (Again to anyone with a disorder) “You’re lucky that you have such a tolerant family.” I am. But on the other hand, I’m really really grateful for those who accept me, and a little sceptical about those who tolerate me because there is a distinct difference between acceptance and tolerance: Accepting somebody means taking them just as they are and without questioning. In contrast, tolerating means allowing someone to be but still judging them in a non-approving way. I want to be accepted, tolerance is better than disregard but not what I want from people I love.
I could go on like that for hours and the text is already longer than I had intended. Tomorrow, I will post the counterpart with a few things that people said that I’m very grateful for. And also, I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences with people who said stuff that was intended to sound nice but actually hurt.
And to those who now think “Oh no, now I don’t dare say anything to someone with a disorder anymore” – just ask them if what you said was okay because what hurts me doesn’t have to hurt others and everyone is responsible for themselves and will tell you if something wasn’t okay for them 😉