I always enjoy reading listicles about what not to say and what to say to someone with a mental illness. I read them and nod my head in agreement, as I can relate all too well. There are sayings or comments that may seem helpful, but arent in reality because they inadvertently minimize our thoughts and feelings or may make us feel even more anxious. I devised my own list and wanted to share it.
Here is my list, in no particular order:
1. Everyone has something.
2. You dont know what goes on behind closed doors.
3. You always look for an excuse.
4. How are you managing? (And other loaded questions).
5. Be nice.
6. Calm down.
7. Im not very happy with you right now.
8. Why cant you just be happy?
9. You have every reason to be happy.
10. What happened now?
12. Why cant you have one day where you feel good?
13. Youve been like this for so long.
14. Maybe you need to change your medications.
15. Maybe your medications arent working anymore.
16. You should discuss this with your doctor.
17. What does your doctor have to say about this?
18. What did your doctor say?
19. You should exercise.
20. Ill motivate you.
21. Dont be lazy.
22. Everyone has stress.
23. Stop making excuses.
24. Youre making yourself anxious.
25. Stop anticipating.
26. Youre making yourself nervous.
27. Why cant you make a decision?
28. So-and-so said it would be nice to see you.
29. Dont worry about it.
30. Everythings going to be okay.
To add some context to some items on the list, being indecisive is as frustrating for me as it is for my family and friends. Its hard to make a decision because I am sitting there weighing the pros and cons of each choice and get lost in the process.
I dont want my anxiety to be seen as an excuse to get out of events. Believe me, its no joy ride experiencing panic attacks and being afraid to leave your house because you are anxious. If someone cannot attend an event because of how they feel, it shouldnt matter if it is as a result of a physical illness, physical injury or due to anxiety or depression. We should put mental illness and physical illness on equal planes.
I am not making myself anxious. I cant predict when I am going to become anxious. I likely wont believe someone who tells me everything is going to be okay because I am a realist and I will just ask, How do you know?, even though I know that anxiety-free periods do exist. I just dont like trite sayings.
Ill end on this note: happiness, acceptance and recovery are all journeys. I cant answer why I am not happy all the time, why I keep having panic attacks or experience depression even though its the summer or why all the whys. What I do know is that its my journey and I have to own it.
To read more from Melanie, check out the rest of her blogs for IBPF, her blogs for Healthy Minds Canada, or visit her personal blog at PS I’m Bipolar.