The Mighty Logo

6 Things to Say Instead of ‘It Gets Better' With Mental or Chronic Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

“It gets better.”

It’s something we hear all the time, but what if the truth is: “no, it won’t.” At least, not in the way you mean it.

Chronic illness by its very nature is persistent and long-lasting. They generally either last a long time or can’t be cured, though they may be improved with devices, medication, therapy and lifestyle changes. They may not ever get completely “better.” So, that expression can feel somewhat hollow.

I have major depressive disorder (MDD), anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I’m 38 and I’ve been dealing with these things for most of my life. I’m not sure I can add them up but I’ve had many depressive episodes and other complications from these illnesses. I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

I’m a model client. I show up, I take my meds, I practice self-care, I’m honest about how I’m doing, I try new things, I try to stay connected and everything else. I’m not perfect but I do my best. Regardless, I still fall apart and I struggle to see a future.

I’ve created some reminders for when I’m stuck in that muddy place, and I’d like to share them with you. I hope they can help, and please share any of your own.

1. Things will eventually shift.

Things may not get better, but there is one certainty in life: change is constant. Remembering that things won’t always be as they are in this moment can be helpful. There may still be pain but it will be less, the weather improves, you make new friends. Shifts happen.

2. You’ve survived all your worst days.

This is something I’ve seen posted online before, and I find it to be encouraging. Think of the last time you had a really bad day, now remember you got past it. You can again.

3. Enthusiasm sits next to hope.

Sometimes, when things are really bleak. it can be tough to find hope. I have an expression that enthusiasm sits next to hope. Is there something that still makes you smile? Puppy dogs? “Star Wars?” Big fluffy clouds? Focus on those things.

4. You never know.

Science is fascinating and so are humans. There might not be a cure, but in the future, one could come. If not a cure, there can be new medicine, therapies, surgeries, devices, programs and more. Something new could be on the horizon.

5. You aren’t a bad person.

The illness you are facing isn’t your fault. If you push yourself too hard or make a mistake that affects your stability, you aren’t a bad person. If a person without an illness has a busy, hectic day, we don’t get mad at them if they feel tired the next day. This should be the same for everyone.

6. You are not the only one.

When I’m deep down in my darkness hole, I begin to believe I’m all alone. While it may be true that no one else has my exact experience, many folks have something similar. As a matter of fact, The Mighty is a great place to hang out if you’re feeling this way.

I hope you find these thoughts helpful and that they can be an encouragement when you’re in a tough spot. Do you have an expression that helps? Leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this article, please take a moment to check out some of my other articles here on The Mighty. If you’d like to follow along with my journey, you can find me on Instagram as @mentalhealthyxe.

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Originally published: January 28, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home