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What Not To Say When Someone Opens Up About His Or Her Mental Illness

This list (as seen with responses here) is for the sake of the remnants of mentally ill people’s sanity, so please do not say these things when we tell you we’re not doing well because if we feel comfortable enough to be honest with you, you are probably someone we desperately need to validate our not okay-ness. This isn’t a self-centered, masochistic thing. It’s a would-you-tell-a-diabetic-they’re-fine-? thing. We are sick. Let us be sick. Don’t take that away from us. We cling to the fact that our mental illnesses are not us so that we can maintain hope that we will get better.

When you tell us we’re “fine,” two things happen: we climb atop my guilt-heap once more and we want to stop existing because we start to think we are our mental illnesses. Trust me. If we’re telling you the truth about our mental health, you are probably one of the people for whom we feel obligated to exist and exist healthily for that matter, so please don’t make it harder by guilt-tripping us and making us think this is who we truly are.

We’re working on ourselves for you, and until we’re healthy enough to see the value in working on ourselves for us, please validate our illnesses. You don’t have to buy into our irrational thoughts, delusions, or hallucinations, but just know those things are very real to us. Never enable us. Just listen and believe us in the sense that this is our reality even though it isn’t always based in actual reality. Even though you’re well intentioned, the outcome of your words is not what you think it is. Anyway, on to the list:

“You’re fine.”

“This is just because you think too much.”

“Stop being so inwardly-focused.”

“Can’t you do something fun?”

“Find something you’re passionate about and channel all your energy into that.”

“Pamper yourself.”

“Oh, everyone feels sad and lonely occasionally.”

“Everyone drinks too much and has careless sex at some point.”

“Everyone is worried about how they’re perceived.”

“You seem like you’re coping really well.”

“You have too good of a life to be this unhappy.”

“Get involved in humanitarian work.”

“Do something for someone else.”

“Don’t be so selfish or attention-seeking.”

“Count your blessings.”

“Happiness is fleeting.”

“You should try praying.”

“Well, I have faith in god, and you don’t see me having all these issues.”

“You’re just bringing everyone down.”

“Don’t be so pessimistic.”

“Just STOP!”

“You don’t need medication. You aren’t that bad, are you?”

“You just have to find meaning in your life.”

“You’re here for a reason.”

“You have a purpose.”

“You’re not an accident.”

“Jesus loves you.”

“Lots of people would be devastated if anything happened to you.”

“You won’t ever end up in the hospital.”

“You’ll feel better if you talk it out.”

“Can’t you express any emotion?”

“Would you be sad if something happened to one of us?”

“Do you love me?”

“Why do you keep flaking?”

“You’re no fun anymore.”

“I miss the old you.”

“Just stop thinking about mortality so much.”

“Do you exercise?”

“How are you eating?”

“You should be vulnerable.”

“You need to share what you’re feeling.”

“Be mindful.”

“Mentally ill people are more creative, you know.”

“Mentally ill people are typically more intelligent.”

“You’re just too deep.”

“Do you ever do anything for, like, fun?”

“We want you to want to get better for you.”

“You know that’s not real, right?”

“How could you be so self-conscious? You have a lot going for you.”

“The weather is so bipolar.”

“I’m so OCD.”

“Don’t you realize how irrational you’re being?”

“She is so psycho.”

“I was depressed once, and then I read [insert waste-of-time-and-money book here].”

“Can’t you just care a little bit?”

“Why are you so angry all the time?”

“Just be positive.”

“Happiness is a choice.”


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