We know you’re trying to help us. We know you’re trying to put things into perspective for us. And yes, we know that a lot of the time, our emotions aren’t exactly logical. Trust me—we know, and we absolutely hate it. Even so, let me make it clear for you: these are not the right things to say.
Here are 7 things you should definitely never say to someone suffering from a mental illness:
“Other people have it worse than you.”
You don’t think we know that already? Way to make us feel more guilty, asshole. This does not put life into perspective for us—though we appreciate you for trying. All this succeeds in is adding another layer into the complex hell we’ve created for ourselves inside our heads. And the worst part: we can’t help it.
Don’t you think we would if we could? I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience, mental illness is a complex thing: it’s not always black and white. Sometimes, we need that time to feel down. We need that time to process and validate our emotions—even if they’re not always logical. We need to let ourselves feel what we’re feeling—and that’s perfectly natural. Instead, try saying: “Be strong. I’m here for you.”
Support their emotions—and let them know you’re there for them.
“You’re sad all the time. I must be stronger than you.”
How about NO. People who experience sadness are not weak. And that’s a really insensitive thing to say to someone suffering a mental illness. Do you say oh, I haven’t broken any bones—therefore, I’m stronger than anyone who’s had broken bones? Nope. It is not weakness to experience emotions. One of the hardest things you can do is to wake up in the morning, and face the day when all you want to do is cease to exist—that, my friend, is strength. How dare you make someone feel worse, just because they feel things differently to you.
“You’re still upset/hurt? Why don’t you just get over it!”
News flash: you don’t get to dictate how someone else feels. You don’t get to decide when it’s time for them to leave certain emotions behind—particularly if they’re as a result of a rather emotional and painful period of time. Instead, maybe you should realise that the thing in question must have really, really, really hurt and messed up your loved one, and support them through it.
“It’s all in your head.”
Well, duh? But that doesn’t make it any less real or any less harmful. It’s serious—and shrugging off someone’s emotions because it’s not tangible is a really shitty thing to do.
"Nothing bad has even happened.”
And nothing bad even has to happen. We can’t explain why we feel certain things—it’s an illness. And the fact that it can affect us without anything even happening is terrifying. It can strike at any time, leaving its victim breathless, faithless, hopeless and helpless.
“Why should I be there for you when you can’t be there for yourself?”
I hate to burst your ignorant bubble here, but even getting up some mornings is classed as “being there for yourself”. Every little tiny effort counts—and even the tiniest thing could have taken a mammoth effort. Just by breathing, we’re already putting in a massive effort. And if you’re the kind of person to say something like the quote above, you really shouldn’t be trying to help someone in the first place.
Your actions have consequences. Instead of putting people down, try lifting them up with support and love. We have good days, we have bad days. But we’re still fighting—and that’s what’s important.
Watch Sam Frost reveal her heartbreaking battle with mental illness...