an instruction manual to me and my mental illness

An Instruction Manual to Me and My Mental Illness


Often friends and family will tell me they don’t know how to help me when I’m in a mental health crisis, or how to act around me when I’m feeling low. So to make things easier for everyone involved, I present to you: Me, An Instruction Manual.

Thank you for purchasing your very own me, with an included mental illness! Each one of us is made differently and no two are alike! Here are a few things to remember:

1. I am unique. I have bad days, good days and even days I can’t quite understand. But I’m not crazy. I simply want to be me, living life the best way I know how. Although I make mistakes, so do people without mental illness. Don’t treat me any differently.

2. You can’t fix me — please don’t try. Mental illness is treatable, but not always curable. But for the most part, those who seek treatment can lead “normal” lives.

3. Whatever coping skills work for you might not work for me. I’ve done a lot of work formulating my own coping skills, techniques and routines designed to help me cope with everyday life. You can’t make things better for me. Only I can do that.

4. Don’t ignore me. I find it difficult sometimes to find the words to ask for help. When I do, please don’t ignore or dismiss me. If I come to you seeking help, I need help.

5. I am not seeking attention. On the contrary, being the center of attention gives me anxiety. I’d rather blend in the background than have people worry about me.

6. You cannot get sick from me. Funny thought, I know, but I’ve actually encountered someone who thought this.

7. I have borderline personality disorder, but that doesn’t mean I will automatically make life harder for you. I’m loyal as a dog, caring and defensive of the people I care about.

8. My anxiety makes me a safe person to be around. I try my hardest to control my surroundings to make things less stressful for everyone.

9. Don’t be afraid if you don’t know what to say. The worst thing you can say to me in a crisis is nothing. I just like to know someone’s there for me.

10. Know that for me, stigma is still very real. Although I publicly discuss my illness online, it’s still difficult for me to discuss it in real life, especially with people I’ve just met. If you’re one of the lucky few I’ve opened up to, it means you’re important to me. I trust no matter what I told you about my mental illness, you still think of me as the same person. Thank you.

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