The People You Meet When You Live With a Mental Illness
Living with a mental Illness and being open about it poses some challenges. Sometimes the people you meet are really helpful and great, and sometimes the people you meet can make things harder. Being rooted in my faith poses another challenge — sometimes people in the church can do more damage, too. Here are a few people I have ran into.
The “We Will Get Through This” Person
This person talks big talk about how much they understand and “get it.” Maybe they tell you about how they know someone else going through it, or maybe they’ve dealt with it too. But they use their experiences to make assumptions about your situation. Everything they say is “we.” But, they never check in with you after that initial conversation, which just confirms your thoughts that you’re not good enough.
The “I Get It, I…” Person
This person likes to compare. I get depression, I was sad the other day. I get anxiety, I get stressed too. I am so OCD, I can be so bipolar sometimes, etc. All this does is minimize what people with mental illness actually go though. It takes away the power of a diagnosis, and minimizes what I’m going through.
The “Pray It Away” Person
This is the person who doesn’t believe mental illness actually exists. They think that prayer will completely fix everything immediately, and that if you just believed your prayer, you wouldn’t have to deal with it. Problems with this logic…. First, you are implying that I don’t pray, pray enough or believe in the power of my God. Which is completely wrong. You are also telling my brain that I am not good enough, which I already think. Or that maybe God doesn’t want to help me, and that’s why I am not better. I fully believe in the power of prayer, and it does help, sometimes. But, you wouldn’t tell someone with a broken arm they didn’t pray hard enough, so don’t tell someone with a mental illness that.
The “Just Stop Thinking About It” Person
This person completely dismisses anything is actually going on. This tells me that what I’m feeling isn’t real.
Instead, these are the people I need:
The “How Can I Help” Friend
These are people who actually want to help. Whether it is through prayer, checking in, encouraging words, self-care recommendations and above all, no judgment and no pity. These people genuinely want to help, they want the best for you, they care.
The “Yep, Me Too” Friend
Sometimes the people who make me feel the best are the people who are dealing with the same stuff. We can relate to each other in ways that other people just won’t understand. So if you are really going through it too, bring it up, talk about your struggles, let us know we are not alone.
Now, these aren’t all the people I have ran into. There is definitely more, but these six are the most common. Sometimes people with the best intentions can be the most harmful if you are not aware of what you are doing/saying.
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Thinkstock photo via Reenya