18 Clever Responses for When People Say Mental Illness is 'All in Your Head'


When people say, “It’s all your head!” to a person with a mental illness, they’re most likely not pointing out where the illness originates from. Instead that phrase implies — and reinforces the misconception — that a person with a mental illness is somehow being dramatic and would feel better if only they could stop thinking about it. The phrase suggests that because the origin of a mental illness is not seemingly physical, it’s somehow less legitimate.

So for those who can’t understand why a person can’t just turn off anxiety or why petting a puppy can’t pull someone out of depression, here’s what our Mighty readers have to say. Because while there are things you can do to better manage mental illness, dismissing it entirely isn’t one of them.

Here are 18 responses to, “It’s all in your head”:

1. “So simple but useful: ‘If someone had a broken leg, you wouldn’t ask them to run, would you?’” — Amy S Paegel

2. “It is in my head. It’s a mental illness, but that doesn’t make it not real.” — Abby Stansel

mental illness meme: It is in my head. It's a mental illness, but that doesn't make it not real.

3. “You can’t see a major panic disorder or depression with the naked eye. You can’t see asthma either — until the right conditions leave you gasping for breath.” — Cassandra Coogan

4. “It is all in my head! I’m wired differently, and I have an illness, an illness that requires me to be medicated and see a professional once a week. I take that seriously!” — Melissa Cote

5. “You can’t tell just by looking at someone what they are dealing with inside.” — Danielle Rupp

mental illness meme: You can't tell just by looking at someone what they are dealing with inside.

6. “Just because you can’t ‘see’ it, doesn’t mean it’s not real.” — Shannon Dolan Starmer

7. “There’s no difference between my brain not being able to make correct levels of serotonin and my pancreas not being able to make the right amounts of insulin.” — Paula Cayer

mental illness meme: There's no difference between my brain not being able to make correct levels of serotonin and my pancreas not being able to make the right amounts of insulin.

8.“‘You aren’t in my shoes.’” — Cynthia Adams McGrath

9. “With all the information out there, with so many people affected, you not taking this seriously says more about you than me.” — Nicole Ricketts

mental illness meme: With all the information out there, with so many people affected, you not taking this seriously says more about you than me.

10. “Not all illnesses are fixed with a bandage.” — Beth Winters

11. “My seizure disorder is all in my head, too. But nobody tells me not to treat that. Neither do we recommend ignoring my son’s autism, which is all in his head. Many people have illnesses. The fact that you can’t see them doesn’t make it any less real or any less significant.”  Angela Bond

12. “Yes, it’s in my head. That’s where my brain is.” — Georgina Lee

mental illness meme: Yes, it's in my head. That's where my brain is.

13. “It’s not only in my head; there are debilitating physical symptoms.” — Erica Enos

14. “Some days I control it and other days it controls me. I don’t expect you to understand, but I’m open to discussing it with you as long as you ask without judgment.”  Katie DeMore

15. “Of course it is [in my head]. Where else would my depression be? In my toenails?”  Bob McKay

mental illness meme: Of course it is [in my head]. Where else would my depression be? In my toenails?

16. Don’t dismiss my disease as less simply because you cannot see the injuries. Some of my deepest scars don’t show, but are a part of my everyday existence.” — Frances Bene Fann

17. “No one asks to be sick — heart disease, diabetes or mental illness. It’s just something that happens.”  Peggy Cannalley

18. “This is not a choice.” — Calandra Rubin

mental illness meme: This is not a choice.

*Some responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

18 Clever Responses for When People Say Mental Illness is 'All in Your Head'

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