You know that old saying, “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Or some versions say, “words will never hurt me.”
When you have a mental illness, that saying is really not accurate. Yeah, I know, you’re not supposed to let those things get to you, but it is harder than a lot of people know.
Words do hurt. And I’m not meaning in the sense of someone saying, “oh, you’re crazy.” I mean, when people say things like, “don’t worry about it” or “stop stressing.”
I know they’re intended to be helpful and make me feel better, but mental illness (at least my type) is NOT rational. You tell me to calm down, not to worry, to stop stressing. You think it is going to help me do those things. Truth is, it makes me less calm, more worried, and even more stressed out. More anxious!
I know it makes no sense. I know it isn’t rational. I know it shouldn’t happen that way. Believe me, I know!
Just because I know it, doesn’t mean I can change what is happening in my brain. I tell myself all those things, all the time, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. If it did, we could eradicate mental illness altogether!
Unfortunately, that’s now how it works.
This is why awareness about mental illness is so important!
I recently mentioned to someone in an email that I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Although the main topic of the email was something else entirely, it did relate to it, and I even told them why.
I spoke with that person on the phone a few hours later (they called me to follow up) and although we discussed the main topic of the email, they didn’t even get anywhere close to talking about the fact that I had told them I had an anxiety disorder. I don’t know if it was because they just sort of overlooked it or they were scared to bring it up, however, the person said those things to me, “don’t worry,” ” don’t be stressed” and all I could think was, “did you read my email?!”
In this particular case, it was a bit easier to overlook the comments, due to the context of the conversation, but it still bothered me a bit.
People need to know what these conditions (anxiety, depression, etc.) mean, and I feel like most people only learn about them if they have one themselves. We need to share these things with people. We need to educate the world!
Edit: Came across this on Facebook a few days after originally writing this post. Its more about bullying, but I still feel it applies.