9 Things This Mentally Ill Person Wishes You Would Stop (Or Start) Doing

You know someone who is mentally ill. Even if you don’t know you know someone who is mentally ill, I assure you, you do. In fact, you probably know several mentally ill folks. One in six Americans has at least one mental illness — many of us have more than one (I have like five?). That amounts to about 45 million people.  Some of these folks may be “out” as depressed or bipolar or OCD or anxious or schizophrenic. Some of them may be hiding behind centuries of cultural shame. Some of them may be medicated. Some of them may never take meds. Some of them may be medicated and refusing to take meds.

Please, read this article for those folks who are struggling — but also read this article for yourself. This is the path to being a better ally. The people you love need you.

You are not “bipolar” if you woke up sad and were happy by the end of the day.

Being mentally ill is hard. It’s hard to get up. It’s hard to take meds every day. It’s hard to raise kids and function like an even remotely normal human being. Some days it’s hard to even LIVE. Being mentally ill is hard enough without having to baby-sit every person who acts like a jerk, but today I’m going to do it. Because today I have the spoons (though tomorrow I might not), and today some of my mentally ill comrades might have no spoons. They might be having a day (or a week, or month, or LIFE) where they actually can’t get out of bed, much less try to educate the general public.

Here are 9 Things This Mentally Ill Person Wishes You Would Stop (Or Start) Doing

1. Please Stop Gaslighting Me.

Stop telling me that my mental illness isn’t real. Stop making me think I'm crazy for being actually crazy (more on "crazy" later.) Don’t tell me I can pray or yoga or keto diet or meditate it away. If those things worked, don’t you think I’d have done them already? Are you under the impression that I haven’t tried literally everything to not be complicated the person I AM?

When I say I am mentally ill, just trust it to be the truth. 

2. Please Stop Gaslighting Your Kids.

Acknowledge their anxiety, their sadness, their struggle. Recognize that their pain is as real, if not more real, as any adult. Children are not equipped with the ability to resign through mental health issues. They need you. When they say they are scared, just take their word for it.

Treat them the way you’d like to be treated if you were terrified of going to school. Kids whose feelings are honored become adults who honor others' feelings.

4. Stop Calling People “Crazy” Or “Moron” or "Looney."

Did you know that the word moron was closely tied with the American eugenics movement? Yeah, that’s the movement that was basically the Hitler of America. So, can we not?

I call myself crazy sometimes, but unless you are crazy, I’m just going to ask that you don’t say it. It’s just so easy to choose another word. Please do.

5. Stop Referring To Everything As “OCD” Or “Bipolar.”

Weather that is sunny and then rainy and then sunny is not “bipolar.” That’s actually just weather. And frankly, those wide fluctuations in temperature are a result of climate change, not hormonal imbalance. Blame greenhouse gasses.

You are not “bipolar” if you woke up sad and were happy by the end of the day.

When you haven’t slept in a week (or you’ve slept two hours a day) and still aren’t tired, then you can start to think about maybe being evaluated for bipolar disorder. When you start seeing things — like Jesus in your bedroom or Oprah in your car — then you can go to a psychiatric facility and say “whoa, this isn’t right.”

Want a blueberry muffin at Starbucks and then change your mind to coffee cake? Not bipolar.

Spend all your family’s money on clothes you never wear? Now you’ve probably got a problem (though sometimes the problem may just be you shop too much.)

 

You Might Also Like: Destigmatizing Psychiatric Meds Literally Saves Lives

 

I know you like your silverware in the designated spots in the organizer, but that doesn’t make you OCD. If you can’t sleep until all your silverware is in the designated spots in the organizer, then you might have a problem.

If you are obsessed with the thought of something until it keeps you up and interferes with your life, that is not the same thing as being "obsessed" with ice cream.

6. Stop Blaming Every Mass Shooting On A "Crazy" Person.

Mentally ill people commit mass shootings, absolutely. But also, NOT mentally ill people commit mass shootings. Furthermore, it’s entirely too easy for anyone to get an automatic rifle to commit a mass shooting. ALSO the mental health care system in American is a joke.

Instead of blaming shootings on “crazy” people, blame it on the government who won’t help those people be well. Blame it on a culture that is so terrified of mental illness that they can’t even mention it in any context that isn’t negative.

7. Please, My God, Don't Ask Me If I've Taken My Meds.

First of all, just don't. Secondly, my meds don't fix everything. I am still a human being with feelings and emotions. If you hurt me I will still be hurt whether I popped eight pills that morning or not. If we are in conflict, the answer is not automatically "she must be off meds." Sometimes, I'm just about that you're being an actual ass. Stop blaming me for being irrational, and take ownership of your own shit. 

If we are in an intimate relationship, then we can discuss the way to broach this topic at some time I am not feeling particularly vulnerable. 

8. Start Talking About Your Own Problems/Struggles/Experiences.

If you’ve never been anxious or depressed, GREAT. That’s amazing. But you probably have, and you definitely know people who have. The only way we will be properly educated and treated is if we destigmatize mental health, and the only way we will destigmatize mental health is if we talk about it.

This means to share your experiences in a non-judgemental, neutral way.

You don’t have to say “I’m mentally ill,”  but you could say “I have struggled with anxiety/depression.” Solidarity does wonders for those who feel utterly alone.

9. Start Listening To Me Talk About My Problems/Struggles/Experiences.

I don’t expect you to be my therapist. But I would like it if you were willing to hear me tell you what’s it’s like to not want to get out of bed or to imagine everything in your life is about to fall apart. I would like to tell you so that you can understand that my reality is not your reality.

If I come to you with my pain, please be aware that this is because I trust you to do the things I've discussed to the best of your ability. 


Related:

I Gave My Son Bipolar Disorder

How Do You Navigate Mental Illness When You're Working-Class?

"I Can't Stand The Sun": My Struggle To Find The RightBipolar Meds

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