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How Overhearing Hurtful Comments About Mental Illness Can Affect People

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When I was a freshman in university, I lived in a residence building with all the other arts kids. That included theater, film, visual art, design, etc. For the most part, everyone was super accepting and really friendly and just good people overall. Some of my best memories and best friends were made while I lived there, but I also had some of my darkest times while I was there too.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

One day, I was walking down the stairs behind a group of girls who also lived in the building and I couldn’t help but overhear what they were talking about.

“I hate her,” said the one girl.

“Yeah, she’s literally crazy and so difficult to deal with. I can’t,” the second girl agreed.

“You know she has bipolar. She’s legitimately crazy. I don’t have time for that kind of stuff,” the third girl said casually. My heart broke a little.

My heart broke not only because I couldn’t stand to hear people talk about another person in that way, especially when they are dealing with something like a mental illness that can be incredibly overwhelming and debilitating at times. But my heart also broke because I live with bipolar disorder. I would hate it if my friends or people I knew spoke about me in that way. Being called “difficult” and “crazy” for something that is often out of your control is unfair and just mean. How could you “hate” someone for something that is not their fault? I remember going back to my room and thinking about this experience obsessively, not being able to shake the feeling that’s what my friends and family thought and said about me too.

Please be supportive of those in need, no matter how “difficult” or “crazy” they are or appear to be. Please be careful of the words you use and be considerate of others. Live a life led by empathy, and if you are someone who struggles with mental illness, don’t let words affect you. A word only has power if you give it power. And who cares what others think or say anyway? Not you, because you’re stronger than words. Words don’t define you and neither does your mental illness. Please remember that. Surround yourself with positive people and people who care, and make an effort to understand what you are going through. You deserve good things and good people. In my experience, all the best people are a little “crazy” anyway. So get out there and own it.

Thinkstock photo via Wavebreakmedia Ltd

Originally published: June 23, 2017
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