Mental Illness and the Potential Dangers of Motivational Messages

I see them everywhere — pieces of advice for living a “full, happy life.” “Choose to be happy.” “Be positive.” “Change your destiny.” “Just relax.” “Be thankful for what you have.” “You are the only one that can make you happy.” They are in greeting cards, newspapers, scrawled in graffiti on the streets, in brand advertisements, on the internet (I’m looking at you, Facebook)…

Every single day I open my Facebook news feed I come across one of these, and, honestly, I think they can be dangerous, but people seem to be oblivious to that. See, many people can’t just choose happiness. When you want to be happy but can’t, you may see these messages and try to follow the advice, and you may fail. You may fail because you really cannot “just relax” because you decided to or “be happy” because a message told you to. You cannot just change your attitude. It is so, so much more complicated than that.

When you’re in the middle of a mental health crisis, no matter the illness you have, you may see these messages and wonder, “Am I not trying hard enough?” “Am I so weak that I can’t change my attitude?” “Why can’t I just be different?” But what you should know is this: Don’t feel bad for not being able to “just change.” Stop blaming yourself for not being able to. The only choice you do have in getting to be happier is getting help.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Gajus

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Mental Health

microphone on stand with wedding decorations in the background

Why I Spoke About Mental Health in My Wedding Speech

This summer I got married, and I could not be happier. It was a perfect day, and everything went according to plan. Many of our friends and family had come to celebrate with us, and I can guarantee they saw nothing but smiles from us all day. So why, when we were so happy, did [...]
troubled teenaged girl sitting alone in front of gray wall

10 Lessons From My Battle With Mental Illness

I use to think of my mental illness as something that weakens me, but now I look at it as lessons that have strengthened me. Growing up with a mental illness has been a struggle. There are days when I feel isolated from the world, and there are other days when I feel isolated from [...]
A line of dominos falling

When the ‘Little Things’ Add Up as a Person With a Mental Illness

This is my life. I am happy to report I can’t really think of any “big things” that have ever happened to me. I’ve been blessed and lucky this way and I am oh so grateful. And… here it comes… I still struggle – a lot! It’s frustrating. It’s my reality. Whenever I crash or [...]
Frame of yellow pills

My Decision to Go Back on Mental Health Medication

My decision to go back on medication was not taken lightly. It certainly wasn’t a decision I made overnight. It’s been a lingering thought I tried to push back for months now. I’ve exhausted all my self-help go-tos and now I’m ready to admit to myself that I need to go back on medication. This [...]