Things Not To Say To Someone Battling a Mental Illness

There are many things that our social filters keep us from saying to one another, for most of us anyway… ahem. But for those of us struggling with mental illness we hear the same cliché lines daily and it doesn’t help us while we fight out silent battle.

mental illness button

You create your own happiness:

No, we don’t. We live in constant turmoil where we fight against lies our brain tells us; med dose changes, hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and a roller coaster of emotions. Our brain determines what our mood will be without our consent.

Fresh air will do you some good:

The fresh air is nice when it’s not making us feel guilty for feeling happy because feeling happy means that the crash will inevitably come soon. This is the game that our brain plays.

You just need exercise:

When your body feels drained, sad, and like there is no point in living, hearing someone tell you to exercise makes it worse. It’s true that exercise leads to a healthier brain but we have to get to a healthier place in order to begin making that decision for ourselves.

Suicide is selfish:

Feelings of suicide, worthlessness, sadness, and depression are not something we choose. These are tricks that our brain play on us and feelings that we feel without choice. We wade through this sadness fighting to stay out of the shadows and thoughts of suicide can be freeing. Support us, talk to us about our contributions, our family, and our friends. Don’t ignore what is going on and watch for signs that things might be getting worse.


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15 Responses to Things Not To Say To Someone Battling a Mental Illness
  1. Kir
    July 8, 2013 | 9:16 am

    oh my friend, as someone who is the middle of her own mild depression these rang so true to me. I know that I should WANT TO get out of bed, I know that I SHOULD appreciate all the GOOD stuff in my life , yada, yada…but it’s so hard some days to do that.

    I am here, I am listening, I love you….very much my friend.

    thank you for writing this and for sharing your story with us.

    • multitaskingmumma
      July 9, 2013 | 11:57 am

      I can relate with this comment so much! I, too, want to climb out of bed and do things. I want to exercise, I want to heal. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
      Thank you for getting it.
      Thank you for being here.

  2. Lyla
    July 8, 2013 | 10:19 am

    My favorite is “look at what you have, you have beautiful healthy children and a husband who loves you.” This just makes me feel more guilty for not being able to pull myself out and enjoy them. Also makes me feel even more alienated from them. Which sucks.

    Basically, the only thing people should say to people with mental illness is “I love you. I need you. I’ll still be here when you are ready. I’m not mad at you. Here is some food.”

    • multitaskingmumma
      July 9, 2013 | 11:55 am

      Yes! Saying those things is exactly what we should be doing! Building each other up, not tearing each other down. Thank you!

  3. Robin | Farewell, Stranger
    July 8, 2013 | 11:01 am

    So true. And even if you could exercise it might not be enough. I tried to exercise my way out of PPD and it didn’t help the way it had helped with previous episodes. Sometimes the illness is just too strong.

    Keep up the stigma-busting, lady.

    • multitaskingmumma
      July 9, 2013 | 11:55 am

      Thank you so very much Robin! You said it perfectly; “sometimes the illness is just too strong!”

  4. imperfectJessica
    July 8, 2013 | 11:34 am

    Thank you – I couldn’t have said it better

    • multitaskingmumma
      July 9, 2013 | 11:54 am

      xoxoxoxoxo. You are so very welcome

  5. AJR
    July 8, 2013 | 3:27 pm

    Endless times I’ve wanted to strangle those people. They think they know everything. They didn’t understand the pandemonium I was going through. Damn those idiots. Being through an actual diagnosed ‘psychosis’ period of my life, no one truly understands what the mind can do to damage one’s life, one’s sanity, one’s hope. I thought I would have no memory of it,.. wrong! As much as I want to forget, I can’t. And again, my mind works against me. I did, however, find that those stupid suggestions mentioned above helped. They helped a lot. It wasn’t a ‘cure’ but it was a step in the door so to speak. Then meditation came into my life, once I learned how to do it, and when I forced myself to take that time to do it, I couldn’t believe the remarkable change in me. A change I would never take back! You can never ever understand another’s depression, another’s turmoil, another’s pain. But we can certainly struggle, struggle to make the best of what we have to work with. We struggle enough with the pain.

    • multitaskingmumma
      July 9, 2013 | 11:54 am

      I think that meditation is something I need to start learning, sounds like it is incredible.

  6. Jen Anderson
    July 8, 2013 | 10:06 pm

    A-freaking-men! Several of these also apply to people with migraines, or other chronic pain conditions. No, going outside or exercise will not help, because moving at all makes the pain worse. Yet even my headache specialist keeps encouraging me to exercise.

    I’m convinced that people who don’t get it (whatever it is) are determined to keep not getting it.

    • multitaskingmumma
      July 9, 2013 | 11:53 am

      I hadn’t thought about chronic pain as well! Thank you so much for your comment and for spreading awareness on this very important issue.

  7. Carri
    July 9, 2013 | 4:45 pm

    Yes, yes, and YES.

    So many people have no idea what mental illness entails. Would any of them tell someone with cancer to “just get over it”? Or a person in a wheelchair to try walking?

    Sometimes my brain is a giant asshole and doesn’t want to work. I can’t meditate or breathe fresh air my way out of it. Period. I wish it were that easy.

  8. Alison
    July 10, 2013 | 5:33 am

    Thank you for this, Leighann.

    I never know what to say. So I will say, as always, I’m here for you. xo

  9. […] Required Reading: Things Not to Say to Someone Battling Mental Illness […]

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