Monday, 22 May 2017

Mental Health Mondays #2 : Things not to say to someone who's struggling

So this is something that should be obvious and yet I (and I'm certain I'm not alone) have several experiences of people 'helping' when they find out I have mental health difficulties. Here's my top 5 of Things Not To Say To A Mentally Distressed Person, along with a few tips on what might be the correct thing instead.

"Just talk to people!"
As someone who experiences social-based anxiety, particularly in group situations, I've heard this a lot but honestly that's the whole point. If I felt able to join in with the convos I would do, but I?? Can't??
Pro tip: if you have a friend who has this problem take the step to introduce them into the conversation so that they don't have to do it themselves, for me it's the first sentence that I feel unable to initiate and it gets easier once I'm involved.

"It's because you're a vegetarian."
Although this isn't a direct quote it has been implied to me by a doctor who told me I needed a blood test after I said I was veggie because my depressive symptoms could be due to me not getting a balanced diet. This isn't the case at all for me, I've been struggling with my mental health for longer than I've been a vegetarian and I take real care with my diet and probably eat a more balanced diet than most other (meat-eating) students! It's also just kind of a weird suggestion when you think about it.

"You know what will fix you? *Insert name of highly illegal and v dangerous drug*"
Okay so this is one that I heard most recently when someone started up a really uncomfortable conversation with me about a personal issue. I know that there are people who find some escape by means of illicit drug use and that's cool, but please don't try and tell me that taking this drug (which I shan't name because a) I've forgotten what it's called and b) it seems unwise) will 'fix' problems which I have been battling for years! If you have evidence that's fine, but when you tell me to google its name and all the top stories are frankly terrifying (and nothing is positive) you aren't going to have me convinced!
I'm not saying don't make suggestions for what might help someone but if you have zero experience with what they're going through and you know they're someone who'd never take such a substance maybe think twice.

"Cheer Up"
One of the two most annoying things you could ever say to someone who's depressed because you know what mate?! If it was a hecking simple as that I would have done it three years ago. Just think before you speak, trying hugging them and telling them that you care and you'll come over anytime they need rather than this.

"Don't Worry"
This is the other thing that is possibly the most royally unhelpful because that's the whole point with an anxiety disorder, most of the time it is disordered, irrational, and you can't stop it! Because if you could control your irrational thoughts they wouldn't be irrational and you wouldn't have an effing problem! If you don't know what to say to someone, just try not to say these two words please, think about whether you can ask if there's anything you can do and if not just let them know that you will help them if there is anything they need at any time.

So yeah, this has been Mental Health Mondays number two, aka A Big Rant. Thanks for reading and if you want to chat about any mental health related stuff or you've realised you're someone who's prone to saying any of the above things and want to figure out what you could say that's more productive pop me a comment (anonymous if you wish) or slide into my emails or twitter (see Contacts page).

Have people said these things to you? Have you had any other stupid stuff that you want to rant about? Do it in a comment! It's cathartic I promise 😎 

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