I have been curious about “what not to say” and “what to say” to someone with a mental illness. I have Bipolar 1. I know what I don’t like to hear and I’m not alone
1. “Everyone has something.”
2. “You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.”
3. “You always look for an excuse.”
4. “How are you managing?” (And other loaded questions).
5 “Be nice.”
6. “Calm down.”
7. “I’m not very happy with you right now.”
8. “Why can’t you just be happy?”
9. “You have every reason to be happy.”
10. “What happened now?”
12. “Why can’t you have one day where you feel good?”
13. “You’ve been like this for so long.”
14. “Maybe you need to change your medications.”
15. “Maybe your medications aren’t working anymore.”
16. “You should discuss this with your doctor.”
17. “What does your doctor have to say about this?”
18. “What did your doctor say?”
19. “You should exercise.”
20. “I’ll motivate you.”
21. “Don’t be lazy.”
22. “Everyone has stress.”
23. “Stop making excuses.”
24. “You’re making yourself anxious.”
25. “Stop anticipating.”
26. “You’re making yourself nervous.”
27. “Why can’t you make a decision?”
28. “So-and-so said it would be nice to see you.”
29. “Don’t worry about it.”
30. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
Most of these sound pretty reasonable to someone without an mental illness. But to those of us who do, some seem pretty harsh as if we always have control of our thoughts and feelings. I honestly don’t have control because my brain doesn’t always work right or interpret things the way a person without an illness would.
I am not a doctor I just know how these types of phrases affect me. I feel less than at times. People telling me how I should feel or act has no business in my life. If you can’t accept me for who I am I don’t need you. I beat myself up enough. I don’t need to be made to feel inadequate. I can do that on my own as well.
The struggles are real. Who wants to lay in bed for four days at a time because of something someone else said to me that was offensive. I’d like to fight back but I would only be hurting myself in the process. So I retreat for a short time to evaluate the situation and decide if I need to take an action.
Most of the time the answer is no I don’t. I don’t like conflict and try to avoid it at all cost. We are very sensitive people and of course not everyone understands that. Sometimes we are called babies or insecure and that’s just not the case. I can’t wish or will my illness away. I have to learn to deal with it just as others need to learn how to deal with it. You can’t just put up a wall and walk away. That’s not dealing with the situation. That’s pretending it doesn’t exist.