10 THINGS NEVER TO SAY TO A MENTALLY ILL PERSON
There are better ways to communicate your feelings to someone who is struggling with an illness. I encourage you to be mindful of how you communicate with those you love and care about. This mindfulness would also help you manage your utterances around them. Here are 5 first things you should never say to a mentally ill person:
You are lazy:
A person who is appearing to lack motivation is probably going through a mental or emotional struggle of some kind. You don’t want to make them feel bad for struggling with an illness. The most important thing to keep in mind is that if the person could see themselves or help themselves, they probably would.
You are not the only one:
For example, you may feel as if the person suffering is using their condition as an excuse to avoid doing things such as seeking employment, keeping a job long-term, or doing household chores.
Get over it:
This is one of the most commonly used and most dismissive comments of all. Telling someone to “cheer up” or “let it go” sends a damaging message: that mental illness is something to be ignored, endured or both. When it comes to mental illness, you can’t just flick a switch and ‘get over it.
It is normal:
It’s true that everyone can feel a little down sometimes, or have mood swings, or get fixated on something, but, this is often not the same as having a mental illness. If someone is constantly told that the way they’re feeling is “normal”, they’re much less likely to seek the treatment they need.
Change your attitude:
While a change in perspective can be helpful, it doesn’t cure conditions such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, PTSD, or schizophrenia. And changing one’s attitude isn’t so easy as a matter of fact. It’s incredibly difficult for a high-functioning person to change their attitude, let alone someone with an exhausting mental illness.
Stop focusing on the bad stuff, and just start living:
One of the most common mistakes is to tell a person to stop focusing on themselves, or on the bad things, or on the past, and just start living. Why is this so problematic? It can make a person feel even worse about themselves.
Don’t use this as an excuse:
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a person’s condition and begin to think “they are using this as an excuse to avoid their responsibilities.” Be careful because this doesn’t always have to be the case.
You are like your father/mother:
Saying “you are like your mother” or “you are just like your father” during moments of intense stress is probably not the best thing to do. You must keep in mind that such a statement is also a judgment that can lead to escalated behaviors or worsening self-esteem.
Stop acting crazy:
This sounds like a label! It makes them feel like you are trivializing them based on the very torment they are facing called mental illness.
You are just seeking attention:
You should never tell someone they are just looking for attention. You have no insight into what they are feeling, so you should never try and invalidate them.
We have a lot of empathy towards cancer patients, or anyone with a physical ailment, but why is it that we don’t have the same empathy towards someone with an invisible illness? Try not to add to the stigma. Be a source of hope to them. Your words count.
Mental illness is more prevalent than you might think. The odds are that you may have even experienced a bit of a mental health condition.