15 Ways 'I Don't Believe You Have a Mental Illness' Makes Us Feel
When you’re struggling with your mental health, the last thing you want to hear is that you’re faking it. Far too often do we hear someone say, “I don’t believe you have a mental illness, you don’t act like it,” and it can be more hurtful than anything else. We just want to be accepted for who we are, not shunned or disbelieved.
I asked people in the mental health community one simple question: “Tell me how you feel when someone doesn’t believe your mental illness?” The response was overwhelming. Here’s what they had to say:
1. “Shame spiral. If they don’t believe it, I’m A: a liar or B: really good at faking a smile, hiding behind some ‘good vibes’ facade. Either of those shame spiral me.”
2. “When people don’t believe me, I try to gently educate. If they still don’t believe me, then I let it go and try to not take it personally. Some people have a hard time understanding things they don’t experience firsthand.”
3. “It makes me feel misunderstood, not heard, dismissed as if I am not important.”
4. “I feel like I live in 2D and am not allowed to have complexity. I feel invisible and completely invalid as a human.”
5. “For me it feels like I am what they think about me and that I’m just ‘crazy.’”
6. “It doesn’t make me feel valid. I then start to question myself, wondering why I am not managing better and whether they are right.”
7. “I think there is nothing worse in the world. As if my whole being and existence was erased.”
8. “Well, it is indescribable.”
9. “I typically have to fight down the reaction to tell them to ‘go away’ in some term or other.”
10. “Frustrated but also ashamed and guilty and weak because I feel like I should be able to overcome these struggles enough to ‘show them up’ but I can’t.”
11. “Feelings of having to justify myself, feeling pathetic and like I couldn’t cope with life and needing an excuse were prevalent.”
12. “It actually made me more depressed.”
13. “It makes me feel like maybe it is all just in my head. Maybe I don’t really matter, maybe I am all the things my depression tells me I am. It’s hard to believe myself when others don’t believe me.”
14. “It used to make me feel embarrassed and silly, like I was a drama queen, or at least that’s how they thought of me. Now I just feel sorry for the people in their lives who live with a mental illness because they lack the education to help them.”
15. “I tend to feel somewhat frenzied at first, almost as though I have an insatiable need to prove it, to immediately do everything I can to make them believe me. Once that anxious wave passes, I usually feel invalidated, frustrated, disgusted, cynical or hopeless/tired of trying.”
For anyone who has ever pushed to the side someone’s mental illness and dismissed them as being invalid, keep in mind the above responses. Take care of your loved ones who may be going through a rough time. Never dismiss their feelings.
*Some responses have been edited and shortened for brevity.
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