Aloha my wonderful merfolk!
Today brings the first advice blog out of many I hope to bring you. This one focuses on mental health. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety back in 2012 and have been battling both ever since. I have suffered through my own battles, as well as battling stigma and negativity.
I have always been willing to talk about mental health. Why should I be ashamed of it? With that being said, I am going to write a post about thing you should NOT say to people with mental health problems. I can guarantee most of us who suffer will have heard these on many occasions.
If you have said anything on this list to someone suffering with mental health problems, then you need to re-evaluate how you speak to your fellow human beings. Mental Illnesses are just as valid as physical illnesses.
1. You’re just a bit sad.
There is a big difference between feeling sad for a day and the sadness that envelops your every thought, movement. It can last days, months, even years. It isn’t just feeling sad. It is a feeling of despair, of failure, that you’re not good enough. Telling someone they are just a bit sad is you bring ignorant towards this persons genuine illness.
2. Just get over it.
If it was as easy to get over it as people make out, we’d all be getting over depression and anxiety with a click of our fingers. It is not something that a person can simply get over. It is a chemical in balance in the brain. Unless those chemicals are levelled out, a person cannot just get over their depression.
3. You’re just doing it for the attention.
Yes, that is exactly what people with depression want; to be centre of attention. Not. People should not be told that they are faking an illness for attention simply because they talk about it. Talking about mental health should not be stigmatised. Why should we be ashamed to admit we need help? Or to admit that we’re on medication? Or to simply admit that we have a mental health problem? Would you turn around to someone with a physical illness and say they are using it for attention?
4. You have to just make an effort.
When you have depression, even getting up in the morning can feel like the biggest challenge you have ever come across. A lot of the time, we just want to stay in bed. If you know someone who has depression who sleeps a lot or wishes to stay in the house a lot and not go out, don’t just tell them to make the effort. Them getting out of bed, even getting dressed has been their effort for the day. Pushing them into something will not help them. It may force them into retreating more. Just give them time.
5. Just change your frame of mind.
Think positive and all the negativity will magically disappear. No, it doesn’t work like that. If we are having a bad day, simply thinking happy thoughts will not change things. If you feel anxious about leaving the house to go out with friends or to go shopping, thinking happy thoughts will not make that social fear just disappear. You have to be there for your friends. If they suffer from anxiety, don’t force them into situations they are uncomfortable with by telling them to change their frame of mind. If they suffer from depression, don’t force them out of bed and say ‘Just think happy thoughts’. Same goes with any other mental health issue. Thinking happy thoughts does not make them go away, so stop telling us to think happy.
6. Have you tried just being happy?
It’s amazing how many people believe that you can just be happy with a click of your fingers. As mentioned earlier, if it was that easy, we’d all be happy and depression wouldn’t exist. On the same wave length, do not tell someone with anxiety to just calm down. If they were able to stay calm in social situations that easily, anxiety wouldn’t exist. Just be patient and understand that they may feel sad or scared, fearful and teary. Support them. Be nice to them. Help them.
7. You’re being selfish.
I have not personally heard this one myself, but I often read that people believe suicidal thoughts or suicide is selfish. Staying in bed all day and not helping with house work, or not taking the children to school and asking your partner to do it or for not wanting to do a shop. Not socialising is not selfish. If you do not feel well enough to leave the house, you are not being selfish. If your partner has to take the kids to school and pick them up after to let you rest, you are not being selfish. There are times when being adult is so much pressure, that doing something for ourself is seen as selfish. Our health is one of our top priorities in life and if that means taking some time out to lie in bed or to simply stay in the house, then so be it. You are not selfish. It is not something that can be helped. No one can help their emotions.
8. Do not point out self harm scars.
This is quite a big one. Those who self harm do it for many reasons. Reasons which I will not go into. If you notice someone with scars on their arms or legs, do not point them out. Do not stare. Do not ask them how they got them. Do not ask anything personal about their self harm. Do not refer to them as an emo or a cutter. They are not defined by their mental health problem. They are human and they have a name.
9. Other people have it worse.
Yes, there very well might be. However, that does not make this persons mental health problems any less valid or difficult to live with. Each human diagnosed with a mental illness has a different story. Stop telling someone with a mental health problem that their illness is not valid because someone, somewhere in the world has it worse. No. Please support your friends and family during their struggles.
10. Do not avoid the topic.
Do not walk on egg shells around your friend or family member. Talk to them about their illness, but in a positive manner. Do not say or use anything previously mentioned in this post. When we finally feel ready to open up to someone about our mental health, we need to know we can trust you. We won’t want to open up if you tell us we are doing it for the attention or simply being dramatic. We won’t be able to trust you if you tell us to get over it or try harder to get better. Do your research so you are prepared for the difficult conversation that may happen.
Please support your friends and family. If you have said or do say any of the above to someone with mental health problems, please e-think your view on life. These type of comments are harmful to mental health as a whole. There is still so much stigma surrounding mental health and those who suffer from it. We need to battle this so we can feel safe to talk about our health without receiving negativity.
a mermaid be waiting for you, in mysterious fathoms below