Things people say

If you struggle with mental health issues, aren’t you sometimes annoyed by things people say to you? Stop wallowing? Pull yourself out of it Go for a run?

There are many things people say to me about my mental health – and that of others – that annoy me. I am sure they may have the best intentions in mind. They usually mean well. They think they’re helping. Speaking to others, I know that I am not alone in feeling that normal, healthy, happy people should be more guarded. All my life people have been saying things like the following to me.

“You should stop wallowing in your misery and snap out of it and pull yourself together.” As though I have a choice. I find this the most annoying thing people sometimes say.

“But you are so successful …”. I am often told that and it is clearly given as a reason as to why I can’t be mad, or be on the spectrum, or have ADHD. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that by most measures I have been relatively successful in my career, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been very hard work, or that I haven’t just been very lucky. (Yes, I have “impostor syndrome” too.) Or that I couldn’t have done even better with a more normal brain.

“You should just go for a run.” It helps, I know, but when you are severely depressed you just can’t. And it will not cure a seriously depressed person.

“I know you’ve had mental health problems but …” People have actually said this to me. Bring on the equality, diversity, and discrimination training in the workplace! Would they have said something similar to someone in a wheelchair?

If only people would stop before they say anything personal to someone struggling with mental health problems and ask themselves “would I say this thing to someone with cancer?”. Of course the person might think that mental illness and physical illness are different, and that the former is a person’s fault, while the latter isn’t. Changing that outlook is the most important task in the fight against stigmatising mental illness.

Don’t let people say any old rubbish to you.

(I am sorry about the brevity of this post, but a post is better than no post. I have been “wallowing” a great deal lately.)