(And Other Things To Not Say To Someone With A Mental Illness.)
Posts on this subject are posted probably every single day and thankfully we are spreading more mental health awareness, but why does it feel like people are still saying things they shouldn’t or giving unsolicited advice?
I am sure that most people mean well. I truly believe that. However, you would think that they know by now that there are things you just simply should not say to someone with a mental illness.
We all have our personal lists of the things that people have said to us. This is mine!
1. The Most Common Phrase
“You should do yoga or meditate!”
I am not the most faithful yogi, but I do do yoga. I have done guided meditations. They do not help quiet my mind; yoga just gives me a good stretch and meditation typically makes me fall asleep.
2. ESSENTIAL OILS ARE EVERYWHERE.
Nor do I believe that I can smell something and be cured of my anxiety and depression so please do not tell me to use essential oils.
I will admit, I do enjoy the scent of lavender, though!
3. The Difference Between a Feeling and an Illness/Disorder.
It is frustrating to finally tell someone about your diagnosis or even open up to them to tell them you need help and their response is: Oh, I get anxious, too! Especially when things get busy at work. You just need to get through it.
It is natural to be stressed or a little anxious when you’re busy or you’re faced with something challenging. It goes away when the stressor goes away, though.
Mine is chronic. I experience it no matter what because there is a chemical imbalance in my brain.
4. I Already Know That I Overthink Things.
I already know that I am dramatic, I make up things in my head and get bent out of shape about them, and that I need to calm down. You telling me these things won’t make me calm down, though.
In fact, it is rude and will probably work me up even more.
5. I Don’t Have Celiac’s
…so please don’t tell me to cut gluten out of my diet! Or anything else, in that case. There have been a few people who have told me to eat better, go gluten free, or even start living a vegan lifestyle. Diet is very important for various aspects of life, but it is NOT the sole answer to everyone’s issues.
What can you say to someone who is struggling with their mental health? Here are some ideas for you:
“I am so sorry. Do you need anything?”
“I can’t relate to what you are going through, but I am always here for you.”
“Hey, it might not feel okay right now but it will be okay.”
“You are important to me.”
“I am glad you are in my life.”
“If you ever need someone to just listen to you, I am here!”
Bottom line: don’t give them unsolicited advice or try to act like you know what they are going through, especially if you have never been diagnosed with a mental illness!
I wear a lot of hats: NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. A writer with a B.A. in English and Professional Writing. A fur mom and a wife. A mental health advocate and a septic shock survivor. An Airman and an athlete. I live in South Florida and am in love with the ocean. People can typically find me either in the gym or at home, writing or reading.