I think one of the most difficult things about having a mental illness is not having people being able to relate to you or understand your disease, and this usually leads to people saying unintentional hurtful things. The other day I somehow ended up in argument with my mother about my mental health, and the treatment of my illness. The conversation ended abruptly when I hung up on her after she said, “Well you just need to try harder, and stop being in such a dark place”. I’m sure others with mental illness have had someone say something on the lines of what my mother said to me, to them. These comments don’t help, personally they often just offend me and make me withdraw even more. The best way I can explain why these comments hurt or don’t help is by equating it to someone who has cancer. No one is going to tell a cancer patient, “Well you just need to stop having cancer, and you know, you just need to stop your cells from dysfunctioning”. That comment would not help the patient, and doing what the statement requests of you is easier said than done. No one wants to have cancer, and those unfortunate to have cancer don’t enjoy having cancer. The same could be said for mental illness. There are many different treatments for mental illness as there is for cancer. Like cancer treatments, these treatments can be painful, unpleasant and difficult, with a ton of different side effects. Unfortunately like some cancer treatments, the treatment may not actually work, and the disease is still there and in full effect. In both cases it can be a long, difficult path to figure out a plan of treatments that work for you. So think twice before you say “Well you just need to …”, because you’re not helping, and are most likely belittling someone’s effort to get better.
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