All I know for sure about mental illness is that I know nothing at all.
I was not exposed to mental illness growing up. I am extremely lucky, I know this. For the longest time, I was that insufferable person who thought people with depression simply needed to think positively.
Then, I met my husband. We have completely different childhoods and life experiences, but hold the same values and place importance on the same things. But because of our differences, mentally we are pretty much the yin and yang of each other. My view of the world is as about as PG 13 as you can get, whereas his is definitely rated R and above. I’m aware of the bad things in the world, but I have the luxury of ignoring them and moving on with my day. For my husband, the bad things cannot be easily silenced or ignored.
Since I met my husband, my view and understanding of mental illness has completely turned around. I used to have a very damaging idea of it, but now I can at least understand that it is simply not a matter of thinking positively. Anxiety, panic disorder, and depression (all of which my husband suffers from) are never a choice, and they can never be cured. If you live with mental illness, it’s always there. It is not about getting to a point where it is no longer a problem. The goal is to learn how to manage it so you can live with it day to day.
How to talk to people with anxiety, a handy guide.