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What Can You Do for Someone With a Mental Illness When You Don't Really 'Get' It?

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To the mothers and fathers of children with mental illness,
To the friend of someone experiencing depression,
To the teacher who notices her student struggling,

What can you do? What can you say?
How can you make them “feel better” when you do not understand?
How can you relate when you have never felt the same way, when you don’t know how they feel?

You tell them thing’s will be OK, you tell them they have no reason to feel this way.
Others have it worse, there is nothing to feel sad about, but this is not what they need to hear.

On the couch for days, isolated from other people, you tell them to stop being so lazy, but that is not what they need to hear.

You’re becoming frustrated, nothing you say seems to affect them, nothing you do is changing their mood.

This isn’t about you though. This isn’t your fault. You cannot take away their pain.

As much as you don’t understand this, neither do I.
I did not ask for this, nor do I enjoy this battle.
Some days I win, some days I lose, but it is always a battle.
A battle against myself.

So support me without expectations.
Listen to me without judgments, and love me without conditions.
Everybody needs somebody to care. Be that somebody who truly does.

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

Photo by Daniel Monteiro, via Unsplash

Originally published: May 7, 2017
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