Yay, let’s celebrate living with an illness that sucks!
Nah, I know that’s not at all what this day is about…it’s about spreading hope, furthering understanding and decreasing stigma 😉
For World Bipolar Day I thought I’d come up with my own list of ‘things not to say to someone with a severe mental illness’
1) Snap out of it!
This is one of THE worst things you can say to someone who is suffering, be it Bipolar, Schizophrenia, anxiety or any mental illness.
When you have a mental illness, you CANNOT just snap out of it. Can you honestly imagine telling someone with diabetes, or cancer, to snap out of it? It wouldn’t be possible, would it? And most importantly, it wouldn’t help.
It’s exactly the same for those with mental health problems!
2) You are lucky – think how many people are worse off than you in the world
Yeah, I’m pretty sure we’re all aware of this…
What YOU don’t seem to be aware of though, is that we don’t choose to be this way, to have these illnesses.
We’re not lazy and we’re most certainly not lucky – I can say from the heart, having Bipolar has ruined my life, and every day is a huge struggle. Thinking about people who have it ‘worse off’ than me (how are you gauging this, by the way?) doesn’t help – it just makes me hate myself for being so pathetic and selfish.
3) I know how you feel
I hate this.
And the most annoying thing is, I can see that the people who tell me this are honestly trying to help, they’re trying to make me feel better and say ‘look I understand, you’re not alone’ – but the thing is, they DON’T understand!
I’ve had a family member tell me “yeah I’ve been depressed for a few days before, I know how hard it is, but I just picked myself back up. That’s what people do!” – NOT HELPFUL!
My mum, bless her, told me that she knows what I feel like when I’m manic to a small extent, because her migraine pills make her feel energetic, and she laughs and talks a lot…I really appreciate the effort, and the fact she said to a small extent, but it’s just not the same.
I have had so many people tell me they ‘know how I feel’ about all sorts of symptoms…they’ve felt anxious once when they were waiting for exam results so they totally get it, or they felt sad once when they were too sick to go to a concert they’d been really looking forward to…none of them had Bipolar, none of them had experienced true depression, mania or anxiety, and quite frankly none of them understood.
Instead of everyone saying “I know how you feel”, I’d like it much more if they said “I can’t imagine how difficult it is, but it sounds like it really sucks!”
4) Taking medication for a mental health problem is a sign of weakness
Yep, I’ve had a friend actually say this to me, right after I was newly diagnosed with Bipolar.
I’d just like to say: f**k you!
And more eloquently – would you say a diabetic person needing insulin was weak? Would you say someone suffering a migraine and taking pain relief was weak?
I know for a fact the person who said this to me relies on inhalers for asthma – aren’t they automatically weak, then?! Oh no wait I forgot – you’re apparently only weak if you have a mental health problem, not a physical one!
5) Maybe you should try leaving the house more, or get a job
Getting a job is out of the question – you try being this ill and living, never mind working.
And getting out the house more – are you kidding? I can barely even muster up the energy to go to the toilet, and I don’t have to worry about the outside world spying on me or plotting against me when going to the loo – well, not much anyway.
Because it’s easy for everyone else to leave the house, people don’t seem to understand that for me it is massively stressful and more effort than I can handle. If my body is screaming out for me to stay inside and cuddle under blankets, it is helpful for me to listen to it…
Back when I followed my social worker’s advice, I did used to force myself out into the world when I was severely depressed. I had numerous days where I’d get back home after spending a stressful day out, trying to act ‘normal’, and I’d just burst into tears as soon as I walked through the door. I’d slump against a wall and just cry so hard I couldn’t breathe.
It. Doesn’t. Help!
Finally I’d like to leave you with this, which is much better than everything I’ve just written – I shoulda just posted this haha XD