Have you ever read one of those “Ten things your guy wished you knew” or “Ten things your mother-in-law would never tell you but thinks you should know” (though in many cases—unfortunately for you, there’s nothing your mother in law wouldn’t tell you). Well I wanted to create a lists of things that those of us who struggle with mental illness wished the rest of the world knew—and hopefully get insight from my support team about what they wish I knew!
Number Five: Don’t tell me “I’ve felt the way you’re feeling” or “Well, I’ve thought those same thoughts”. I know you’re just trying to emphatize with me–but it’s not working. You likely haven’t felt the way I’m feeling. My feelings are more frequent, more intense, less easy to manage, and less related to my circumstances. To me, this phrase disregards the reality of the disorder. It’s like you’re saying, “well I’ve felt this way—what makes you think you’re sick? Or that your feelings aren’t normal?” Now, I drive my husband and mom to distraction by reading into what people say…but hey, this is my blog and therefore I can ask politely that my family and friends avoid this phrase!
Now, on the flip side—you likely had similar experiences and feelings. I know my husband has days when he just feels depressed or irritable (on those days I try to get him to go back to bed and get out on the other side!). That’s what makes the disorder so hard to diagnosis and understand. So often the feelings are within the realm of “normal” human experience (who defines normal I have yet to figure out!). But like mentioned above, those with a mental illness experience these feelings to a greater degree and with significantly more frequency (I get to ride the roller coaster every day, while you only get on once in a while–lucky me?).
Disclaimer: Not all of these thought will reflect all people, in the same way not all “Ten things your guy wished you knew” would relate to my husband—some will not even relate to me. They are thoughts/concerns/opinions I’ve heard when talking with fellow adventurers along the journey that is mental illness.