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Stop Minimizing Mental Illness: Worst Things to Say

September 7, 2010 Natasha Tracy

Some people say the worst things to a person with mental illness. They're hurtful and minimize mental illness. Read and see what I mean.

I feel, sometimes, that I am at war with the mentally-well world. This isn’t to say that many of them aren’t lovely or that I have a desire to harm anyone, but I do feel embroiled. And it’s mostly because the well population just doesn’t understand what it is to be unwell. They demonstrate this heartily by repeatedly saying the worst things possible to a person with a mental illness.

Worst Things to Say to a Person With a Mental Illness

Some people say the worst things possible to a person with mental illness and minimize mental illness. Read and see what I mean.Here are some of my favorite worst things to say to a depressed person or really anyone with a mental illness.

  1. Snap out of it
  2. There are a lot of people worse off than you
  3. You have so many things to be thankful for, how can you be depressed?
  4. You’d feel better if you got off all those pills
  5. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger
  6. Go out and have some fun
  7. I know how you feel
  8. So you’re depressed, aren’t you always?
  9. This too shall pass
  10. We all have our crosses to bear

And as a bonus, my personal favorite: We create our own reality.

Ugh. (I'm not the only one thinking about this, check out the worst things to say to anxious people.)

Why These are Stupid Things to Say

Any of those statements shows that you have no idea what you’re talking about. You fundamentally do not understand the concept of a mental illness if you think any one of these are appropriate. I suggest trying it with other physical health problems and see how you feel:

Hey, diabetic, snap out of it.
Hey, epileptic, I know how you feel.
Hey, paraplegic, so you can’t use your legs, isn’t that always the case?
Hey, person with multiple sclerosis, we create our own reality.

You get the idea. No one would think that is reasonable, and it’s no more reasonable just because you can’t see the illness because it’s in my brain.

These Are Hurtful Things to Say

And perhaps worse than showing ignorance, these things even inflict pain on the person you’re trying to “help”. You are saying that:

  1. They could choose not to be sick if they really wanted
  2. Their illness is not serious
  3. They have no “reason” to be ill
  4. Their treatment is wrong
  5. They’ll be better off from it
  6. They would be fine if they would just “go out”
  7. Their illness is minimal
  8. Their pain doesn’t matter
  9. They should just wait for the pain to end
  10. Their illness is just like anyone else’s problem
  11. They choose to be sick

Again, I dare you to tell a person with any other illness any of those things.

And lest we forget, the mentally ill person in front of you is already probably feeling very bad about themselves, and you have chosen to go and make it worse.

Let’s Not Forget, People Die From Mental Illness

Here are the worst things to say to a person with mental illness. Isn't it time you stop minimizing mental illness?The idea that mental illness is serious isn’t something that I made up, it is a fact. Estimates are 1 in 5 people with bipolar disorder commit suicide and 1 in 2 people (yes, that’s half) attempt it. And, of course, there are hospitalizations, work absences, destroyed families, having to go on disability, and so on. This is serious stuff people. It is not a runny nose.

Why Do People with Mental Illness Have to Justify Themselves?

Why is it that just because I see a psychiatrist and you see a neurologist your disease is real and mine is not? Why is it you assume I can will my disease away while you can’t? Why is it that you can expect me to bring you chicken soup when you get the flu but when I get sick I can’t even expect that you’ll stick around?

I do understand that people don’t know they are being hurtful. People are trying to help. I get it. But here’s the thing, my illness is just as real as anyone else’s. Please stop forcing me to convince you.

Update: Check out the best things to say to someone with a mental illness.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2010, September 7). Stop Minimizing Mental Illness: Worst Things to Say, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2010/09/stop-minimizing-mental-illness-worst-things-to-say



Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Ross
says:
June, 2 2013 at 10:40 pm
Don't confuse mental disorders ("mental illnesses") with brain diseases. Psychiatrists treat the former; neurologists treat the latter. Your bipolar condition may be real, but that doesn't mean it's a brain disease.
Louise
says:
June, 1 2013 at 4:16 pm
Hmmm...I have a mental health illness, have suffered from my teens...I am now stable after therapy and am on meds. I don't know if I agree with comparing some comments to commenting on other illnesses i.e. 'snap out of it diabetic'. You wouldn't compare someone with diabetes to someone with heart disease, for example. And I personally do believe that myself, as a mental health survivor, I create my own reality. I may not CHOOSE to have my symptoms but I can choose how to manage those symptoms. I can choose to stay in bed or I can get out bed; I can choose to actively do things that help me i.e. talk, exercise, eat well, take my meds. Someone with diabetes or heart disease or MS does not have much of a choice - they can not eat sugar, do more exercise, do things their doctor suggests...my point is, when I decided not to allow my mental state to control me, when I decided to accept things, my life got better. Just my subjective opinion :) xxx
Joyce
says:
May, 5 2013 at 1:49 pm
People with Borderline Personality Disorder don't choose to feel the way they do. It has been shown in brain scans that they are different than people without the disorder. They feel things ten times stronger than others. They are highly sensitive, empathetic and easily overwhelmed.
Qua
says:
April, 13 2013 at 4:03 pm
My #1 most hated thing people say about anyone feeling unwell, in pain, depressed, hurt etc, is that they have a choice in the matter, and that we choose to be unwell and can just "will" it away. Seriously, out of anything, this drives me batshit insane with rage. Someone once told me I was CHOOSING to be hurt by some really awful shit someone said to me that I cared about.... and on SO many levels, that is just bullshit and it's awful to say to someone. I don't choose what OTHER people say to me or do to me, nor do I get to choose how it makes me feel or hurts me. I also don't goddamn choose to have mental illness or be in severe physical pain. If I could choose, I certainly wouldn't choose to be this miserable...and the implication that I WOULD, that is probably most offensive. Those people, for all I'm concerned, should have everything they love taken away from them, and given illness and pain, and then someone should tell them the same thing. I don't think most of those people have EVER truly suffered.
Debbie Steagall
says:
April, 3 2013 at 10:01 am
My gosh! How loud "we" scream for help sometimes - although "we" must be screaming under a pillow - or might as well be. Thank you for publishing this article. I'm a "newby" bipolar - having been misdiagnosed for 18 months and feeling like a guinea pig with meds. I don't even remember how I found "you" and Bipolar Burpy yet I know it has renewed my faith in myself - in re-finding ME!
Angelena Larrosa
says:
January, 8 2013 at 2:12 pm
Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! "There are places and moments in which one is so completely alone that one sees the world entire." by Jules Renard.
Alan Mcconney
says:
November, 15 2012 at 3:11 am
Only wanna state that this is extremely helpful, Thanks for taking your time to write this.
Dee
says:
September, 7 2012 at 12:25 pm
I feel so lost and have gotten to the point I really don't care. I just don't want to continue. I don't think my insurance pays for mental help and don't want to have another bill I can't pay. Just more stress. Reading these stories makes me feel like its not worth going through it to seek help that really is not help. I am tired of the roller coaster. Maybe I should go away and start new. Not sure this will make it better. Thank for listening.
Barb
says:
September, 5 2012 at 6:06 am
My husband of 36 years has severe, treatment resistent depression. I struggle every day of my life NOT to say, feel or think the above "what not to say to a mentally ill person" phrases. My adult daughter, our only child gets so angry at her father because he's always sad, angry and doesn't want to share me. He gets angry when I want to go out & be around other people or even if I want to do things that interest me - he barely tolerates me having interests that do not include him - which I do because he has no interests other than restoring cars which is too expensive for our budget - he has been on disability for 18+ years. How can I cope - how can I know WHAT to say - I already know what not to say?
How do I make my daughter and extended family understand why I stay?
azhummingbird
says:
September, 4 2012 at 9:38 am
sometimes family doesn't want to accept the fact that you have a problem and that they could let you know that they love you anyway and will be there for you. They say it is up to me to change the way I feel about myself. I try but when they do not accept me it is hard. I feel like I am just not worth it and should just go live by myself where I can't "hurt anyone" and try not to depend on others to make me feel better.
Amanda
says:
August, 20 2012 at 6:22 pm
How about all you need is wisdom or if you'd just listen to me I could tell you how to fix this? I heard both of those today after telling my husband I finally made a call to the therapist. And the awesome thing is most of the reason I'm going back is because of how I treat him and the fear of how I will treat my future children if I can't get a grip on myself.
Ronald Madill
says:
August, 16 2012 at 12:50 pm
Hello! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading through your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Thanks!
Natasha Tracy
says:
August, 10 2012 at 5:57 am
Hi Jane,

Oh yes, the mental health thing isn't easy.

I can understand the urge to stay in bed - believe me, but maybe you can draw some healthy boundaries for yourself where you're not getting "dragged around" but you're also not completely trapped in your bed either. There can be a middle ground.

And if you find that someone sets you off, as you say, then I would recommend talking about that in therapy, if you can. There are reasons it is happening and if you can work through those reasons, you may be able to break the trigger.

What I'm saying is, it doesn't have to be quite so much of a tug-of-war for you. You can take more control. It's tough, but it's doable.

- Natasha Tracy
Jane
says:
August, 9 2012 at 1:33 am
WOW you really hit home with this article .... I was diagnosed Bi Polar 1 manic depression at the age of 44. I'm 46 now. My family & friends just don't understand the whole "going out" problem I face daily ... I just want to stay in where I feel safe & no one understands that. Most times I just allow them to drag me around .. it's easier than having to listen to them bitch but then my moods change rapidly during the day. I have 3 sisters & when I'm around one of them I just totally lose it (everything she does just sets me off). I can't explain it & my other sisters just don't understand it as well. This whole mental health thing is so hard =(
bipolar
says:
August, 9 2012 at 1:19 am
Right on sister, well said!
jess
says:
June, 10 2012 at 6:50 am
i hear these all too often i had too break up with my first boyfriend recently after 2 years because i kept hearing ÿou cry more than a baby", "grow up", "fine just do it"and now at work since a few of my colleagues know i have bipolar but know very little about the disorder as they come from countries where little is known about it i hear things such as "your taking too many drugs its making you sick"when i have a cold. Im trying to keep away from people with these comments but it seems too many people just dont understand or think that it isnt a real illness.
Collette
says:
May, 29 2012 at 6:56 pm
One I hear and absolutely hate...

When I fall back into the pit after a spell of doing well (or seemingly doing well to others), one 'friend' will often ask, "Well, what happened? You were feeling so much better!". It's almost as if she thinks that I've done something wrong to make my moods destabilize.
Natasha Tracy
says:
May, 20 2012 at 8:23 am
Hi Betty,

How you choose to disclose your mental illness and to whom, is of course your choice but I'm saddened to hear you make it a policy not to do it at all. Because, as you say, this means that you can't be honest and open about your life. I do understand your choice, but I hope you find someone you feel comfortable opening up to because not everyone will judge you or treat you badly because of a mental illness. Some people are great supports and by never telling anyone, you're missing out.

- Natasha Tracy
betty
says:
May, 20 2012 at 7:54 am
great article. Thanks.
I dont even try and tell people about my MI anymore, because I know I'll just get a dose of this kind of sh*t. I just allow them to think what they want about me. It sucks not being able to be open about my life with friends in particular, but its better than the alternative--not being taken seriously. when Im feeling especially sick I just hide myself away until I feel well enough to come out. Thats just how it is and Ive learned to accept it. Sorta.
Anita
says:
May, 18 2012 at 5:06 pm
I got a new one last week. "You think yourself sick". Well, I think I could come up with better things to do with my life besides taking handful of pills every day, afraid to leave the house, paranoid over every little thing and worry about life in general. I am just so sick of people looking down on people who live life struggling everyday just to remember to breathe. It is not easy and I applaud all of us who show we are stronger than the arrogant jerks who want to label us as crazy, lazy or just want someone to take care of us.
ircurts
says:
May, 5 2012 at 12:14 am
Spot on truth there Natasha. The first time I sought help for lifelong clinical depression (major depression now) it was about 16 years ago. It was suggested I go to any kind of meetings and all there was available was A.A. and N.A..I was prescribed prozak and later paxil (neither really worked for me.)

At the meetings I went to I heard many of the very same things your post talks about. One I heard a lot is "get a job" and I thought to myself, "ok I can do this, they feel I can."

I got a job working part time and it was enough to bump me off state health care and I lost access to paxil and ended up having to quit cold turkey and had no way to afford a doctor to tell me what to do. It was one of the worst 90 days of my life as the withdrawal from paxil is horrid.

But I was working, we moved, I worked more and somehow thought what I felt must be normal, at least I was productive.

6 years ago I had some kind of mental breakdown and was unable to work again. All the rage, hate and depression flooded back so quick and I got so bad I would go more than a month without bathing, my wife had to make sure I would eat and I refused to seek help since it was such a disaster the first time.

Does mental illness kill? Oh yes!!!! about 15 months ago I had a first heart attack and a 2nd about 4 months ago. The 2nd heart attack I took opportunity to try and end my life by pushing the heart attack. You see I am a heavy smoker and I felt the precursor to the heart attack every time I lit up. I started chain smoking, pacing, trying to force the conclusion of my mental illness.

Heart attacks hurt so much! I want to never feel that kind of pain again. I finally tried to find help but in the state I live in there is not much help for mental illness. Well not much help if you are uninsured and jobless. Many health care plans offered by employers wont even cover mental health treatment.

I had to have a serious manic episode/panic attack just a month after that 2nd heart attack before I was offered a bed for 6 days at a crisis center funded by local community members.

Today I am trying to live, overcome and heal. It is difficult and most of the time I feel alone in it. My wife just doesn't get it and I am at least a triple diagnosis (how far I got 16 years ago). Major depressive, general anxiety and very serious PTSD (2x rape victim).

Good luck getting even some of the doctors to understand.
P.J. Monroe
says:
May, 4 2012 at 8:54 am
I generally agree with #7. Unless you do. 1 in 4 people suffer a mental illness in there lifetime. There's a chance someone you know does know how you feel. And if you do know what it feels like I think you should tell that person. You need to say, "YOU ARE NOT ALONE!"
laurie batterton
says:
May, 3 2012 at 7:47 am
Just went through maybe almost the most hellish days I have ever experienced. So smart of me to go off 2 psych meds, both of which are known for brutal withdrawals, and then why not quit drinking at the same time. Just get it all done at once. I had no idea of the physical and mental consequences of making such a wise decision. And oh yeah, I was also out of my anti-anxiety meds which are my lifesavers at times. I highly do not recommend doing this yourself unless you are in a hospital. Physically, I had tremors and shakes, could barely focus and and was basically non-functioning. Every once in a while a muscle would jerk reminding me that, yes I was still alive. A gun would have taken care of that though. Emotionally I was wrecked. Unbearably anxious and suicidally depressed living amongst people who had no clue and didn't really care to about what i was going through. My saving grace was my wonderful boyfriend who I could only talk to on a computer headset because he lives in Canada for now and I am in California. He has been through his own hell with depression and gave me what I needed to hang on which was sometimes just listening to his breathing while he slept at night, always waking up when he somehow felt I needed him. Oh yeah, this one is a keeper. Anyway, I just want people to know that doing what I did was reckless and will take down your nervous system. The fifth day I decided I needed to go out because I was feeling better but still vulnerable. I did't want to bring on a panic attack which I had in the past. The great, no miraculous thing is, once I got out of the house (of gloom) I was okay and felt so free and confident in my body and mind. Surprised and so grateful just to feel "normal" because during those horrendous days I thought I never would again. I wish all of you peace of mind that hope keeps alive.
Ceres
says:
April, 24 2012 at 4:53 pm
I am a reader of the website run by the person who left the previous comment @underground.

First, I would like to thank you, Natasha, for both this post as well as the one that accompanied it, "The BEST things to say to...". I have nary a complaint or quibble, which is rare for me!

However, I do have a thought or two to share with @Differrering Perspective (or @Differring Perspective?). I both agree and disagree with your point of view. Disagreement part first: Okay, yes, I understand the concept that mental health is not cut and dry, that there is individual variation along a spectrum. Similarly, I understand that sometimes problems are situational, or start that way. Regarding the latter: There are homeless people who are mentally ill. But not ALL homeless people are mentally ill.

Behavior may initially be a reaction to something situational e.g. traumatic stress. But even though there is a direct causal relationship between the event or events and the pattern of atypical behavior, it doesn't mean it is any less real or less of an impediment to mental health. Or that it goes away, or gets better, even when the stressors are removed.

Substance abuse is not so straightforward as what (I think) I understood you were saying: That users are making a rational choice, and just happen to enjoy using drugs. And that there is nothing wrong with that, other than in the eyes of the dominant culture and social milieau. This is why I disagree: Substance abuse can be an attempt to self-medicate for mental disorders (physical too, e.g. chronic pain). What percentage are the "normal" recreational users versus those with mental health issues, trying to find a way to become, or remain functional? Unknown. Certainly there are some of each.

Trying to say that it is merely a matter of societal context that defines mental health is overly reductive. Certainly when one gets to the point where one is no longer functional e.g. able to keep a job, remember to eat or sleep (which does happen, without any sort of substance abuse), well, it doesn't really matter if it was motivated by a traumatic event or not. Treatment is necessary to survive.

Now for the part where I agree with you: Referring to conditions like Aspberger's as a mental illness troubles me. It troubles me because there is autism, which is a severe mental handicap, including cognitive skills limited to that of a one year old, unable to speak, severe mental retardation. Those children, and the adults they become, require a high level of supportive care, which is scarce and expensive. Diverting scare resources, in terms of public sympathy, energy, awareness AND mental health care-givers, to so-called high-functioning Aspberger's individuals, those who are employed (usually in well-paying jobs as programmers, electrical engineers, PhD level researchers etc), not harming their person nor that of others, well, it doesn't seem right to me. In that sense, I DO agree with you.

Some very intelligent and/ or creative people are perceived as eccentric by others. Some have difficulties relating socially. Describing that as a form of mental illness seems misguided to me. Paranoid schizophrenia and clinical depression ARE forms of mental illness. Autism is not mental illness, but it IS mental impairment (autism of the sort I mentioned earlier, where there is profound cognitive impairment, NOT Aspberger's syndrome). For example, everyone in my family other than my mother would probably be diagnosed with Aspberger's. Lots of eccentricity, complete inability to connect with others on an emotional, sometimes even physical level, lots of compulsivity about work habits, intensity, myself included. But here's the difference: I am the only one of us that cries all the time, doesn't like to leave my apartment (for months) and so forth. We all have graduate degrees. But my aunt, brother, father, grandfather, two cousins have careers as rheumatologist, university librarian, cardiologist, attorney, first cellist in a major orchestra, senior management position at Siemans, respectively. Very important: They are quite happy, consistently (even if no one else particularly enjoys their company). I don't consider that being mentally ill.
the worst things to say « underground
says:
March, 28 2012 at 2:43 pm
[...] Tracy’s list of worst things to say to a person with a mental illness, from her article Stop Minimizing Mental Illness: Worst Things to Say at her blog| Breaking [...]
underground
says:
March, 27 2012 at 9:54 pm
Thank you for this wonderful article, Natasha. There's a chorus singing hallelujah in my brain.
Another phrase I struggle with when I hear it -- it's fresh in my mind because a mental health nurse said it today -- is "Everyone feels that way."
I know she is trying to comfort me by implying that I'm not a complete wierdo, but I've resolved to tell her at my next appointment that I hear it as minimizing my illness, and wonder if she is trying to convince me that I'm not really ill at all. This is a confusion that has tormented me for most of my adult life. Am I ill or just weak.
I'm very glad to have found your blog. Thanks for being you and writing about it.
Differering Perspective
says:
March, 20 2012 at 6:53 pm
Do you mean to say that homeless individuals with mental illness attribute some other cause for their outcome in life that surpasses social context? Biological vulnerabilities, perhaps? Or no cause.. (That wasn't rhetorical, I am genuinely trying to grasp your point without misinterpretation - I'm prone to that.) For many, I would argue that social context is a huge barometer in determining outcome. For some, not so much, and some people (example - drug 'addicts') decide to engage in their behaviours simply because they have accepted their fate in life, and enjoy doing drugs. And yet society labels them addicts, often times creating interventions with ultimatums because they have become seemingly destructive to themselves or society - I would argue that this revolves around social construction, too.

Ps, I have done work with homeless individuals and other individuals experiencing mental ‘disorders’. Again, I am not denying that criteria for mental disorders or mean to say they are made up symptoms. I am in favour of assessments and therapy so long as the individual chooses it. I am simply saying it is very cruel of society to label this person as diseased when their 'illness' (again, not mocking the reality – just dislike the term) is a perfectly reasonable response to various stimuli.

Another example – I think post-traumatic stress ‘disorder’ is very real and warrants awareness and resources. But remove the word ‘disorder’. It is a perfectly reasonable response to extreme trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder was originally dubbed “shell shock” - two syllables - almost like the sound of a gun. Soldiers experienced negative emotions after coming back from war. This is not a disorder; this is a consequence of a reality endured. Negativity does not equal disorder. I completely agree that there are some very independently minded individuals out there.

Apologies for going on and on - I may have missed you point entirely.

-M
Sarah
says:
March, 20 2012 at 3:08 pm
Hi there Differing Perspective,
This is a very well-thought out argument about the social construction of mental illness, the theory of which I understand very well.
Do some work with the mentally ill-homeless for 12 months or so and you will see the social effects on the mentally ill. Also, try telling them that their lives were socially constructed and you will get laughed out of the soup van. There are some very independently minded individuals out there.
Best of luck with your studies.
Differing perspective
says:
March, 20 2012 at 12:07 pm
As a psychology student, I agree with most of this article. Trying to justify to other people why it is you feel the way you feel when you can hardly accept it yourself, or let alone fully articulate it is overwhelming on many fronts.

"Why is it that just because I see a psychiatrist and you see a neurologist your disease is real and mine is not?"
My biggest issue currently with psychology is not whether or not the behaviours, thoughts (symptoms) of mental 'diseases' are real, but the fact that I don't believe they should be called diseases. Society sets up a framework that most people can function from and make a life for themselves. In turn, society labels people of differing emotions and behaviours to have a ‘disease’- labelling these emotions and behaviour as maladaptive (which, within society, they certainly can be) when the individual is no longer able to maximize their priority, and in turn, contribute to the society that raised them. Many people take advantage of the fact that being an individual comes naturally, and that knowing what to do with your life comes naturally - it most certainly is a difficult quest, and philosophers have been concerning themselves with this since the dawn of time. I'm not arguing that the symptoms of certain circumstances do not present themselves in what we now classify as 'mental illness' (that is, I absolutely know first-hand that the symptoms in diagnosing mental illnesses are very much so present and affect tons of individuals) I just think these 'diseases' are in fact human responses that are often times justifiable, and as r.d lang once stated, "Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world".

In short, this is why I personally think having cancer or aids is a disease whereas bipolar is not. While there is some research of demonstrating the etiology of mental illness, I still stand where I do.
Natasha Tracy
says:
March, 20 2012 at 7:02 am
Hi Kelly,

I understand your point about the word "commit." There are a number of different phrases that people use to refer to the act of suicide such as "completed suicide" and some people are very particular about them. I try to use care when writing about the subject for that reason and will take your point of view into consideration.

I'm sorry to hear of your husband, and no, he didn't commit any crimes.

Thank-you for your comment.

- Natasha
Kelly
says:
March, 20 2012 at 4:15 am
Thank you so much for sharing this and putting it into such a comprehensive, easy to follow format. I truly believe education is the best way to address all mental health issues.

Could I make one request? Rather than referring to the act of suicide as "committed suicide" could it be rephrased to "suicided?" The reason for this request is because using the word "commit" makes suicide sound like a crime. In the 70's in Canadian law, attempted self murder WAS considered a crime and people were then sent to mental institutions to "fix" them. Doesn't seem quite right does it? Very cold solution for a very real problem.

In order to remove the stigma surrounding suicide, we have to change our wording. Suicide is not a crime. It is the result of untreated mental illness.

My husband died of suicide last summer. He was the most loving, warm, caring, generous person I ever knew. But he didn't commit any crimes.

Thank you again for sharing and raising awareness of this horrible disease called mental illness.
The Bipolar Project
says:
November, 30 2011 at 11:47 am
Thank you for writing this!!!!
Wayne
says:
November, 12 2011 at 8:49 am
"There are a lot of people worse off than you" is my least favorite one, but I've heard it so many times. There are people being tortured in foreign countries under dominating regimes. They are worse off than someone at home in a comfortable bed with diabetes. So what's up with this statement? I think it is the person saying it putting their mouth in motion before putting their brain in gear!
Natasha Tracy
says:
October, 20 2011 at 6:18 am
Alistair,

Ah, well thank-you.

I don't really like to think of it as being "at-war" with anyone, although, granted, it does feel like that sometimes. I feel like I'm playing defence a lot. Maybe like a hockey game. I am Canadian, after all.

I like to say "that which does not kill us makes us bitter." Well, OK, I stole that from Chuck Lore, but still, I like to say it.

- Natasha
Natasha Tracy
says:
October, 20 2011 at 6:16 am
Hi Elizabeth,

If only I could define "required reading" for people... the world would be just peachy.

Hopefully it helps you and yours.

- Natasha
Alistair McHarg
says:
October, 20 2011 at 2:45 am
One of the reasons I like you so much is that you feel like you are at war with the "mentally-well" world, and you go on anyway. I have felt this way for a very long time, chipping away at the wall of ignorance surrounding us. Other times I feel like I am at war with the mentally ill world; some of my opinions about recovery are not popular. But, I go on. -- Your #5 is particularly annoying to me. "That which does not kill me only serves to make me stronger." This lovely snippet of twaddle is attributed to Mr. Chuckles himself, Friedrich Nietzsche. When you've lost everything multiple times, been beat down by cops and thugs, done time in prison and mental hospitals, and lived - well, you must be stronger than Hercules! The fact is, you might be wiser, but you're weaker, exhausted, and used up. I quote my old friend Taz Mopula, ""That which does not kill me only serves to make me feel like taking a nice little nap."
Elizabeth
says:
October, 19 2011 at 5:04 am
Natasha, thank you for this. It should be required reading for anyone who knows someone with a mental illness. I've shared it on Facebook, and I may also print a copy and post it on my refrigerator for my housemates to see. Some of them really need it. A lot.
Joshuwhat?
says:
October, 10 2011 at 7:44 pm
I have Bipolar I and am currently 25, with the majority of a university degree finished. This was interrupted by bipolar problems causing me to fail classes in my 5th year after doing so well for the most part, after switching degrees twice, and managing to spend 100 grand in 5 years of student loans/scholarships/family loans, etc. I've been addicted to alcohol, smoking, and drugs at various times in my life, and have had some severe depressions where I almost took my life. The worst I heard was from my older brother, when I was 15 and he said "you're going to kill yourself before you even turn 18, and you'll end up in hell anyway." I've also had a severely ruptured patellar tendon (the main tendon going over the knee) caused by manic superpowers pushing me to jump into a shallow pond filled with jagged rocks. I've had people tell me (the knee injury) is my own fault, a university professor who teaches "Voice and Movement for the Actor" called me a gimp for two years while I struggled with physio to rehabilitate my ruptured and repaired patellar tendon, while helplessly watching my life in the 3rd person as my mood swings progressively ruin my social life and affect my academic performance. After being more of a workaholic than my peers for the 4 years I spent in theatre school I was called "unreliable" by some insensitive teachers, after climbing ladders to hang lights with a cast on my leg, taking on 600 hrs of rehearsal time outside of regular class hours in a 6 month period, sacrificing 3 years of weekends never and never ONCE being late for rehearsal. I've had the stigma on the my back for both my mental and physical illnesses. I also grew up with a craniofacial tumour and have had people ridicule that problem. A lot of people are astoundingly ignorant most of the time. I feel like, with all my life experiences, I'm 50 years old, not 25. Reading others' stories on here is uplifting in an odd sort of way, though I wish I could hear them in person. With love - J.
Rosacea
says:
October, 4 2011 at 8:33 pm
Oracea...

[...]Stop Minimizing Mental Illness: Worst Things to Say | Breaking Bipolar - HealthyPlace[...]...
Jason
says:
September, 21 2011 at 2:26 pm
This is a good article. It discusses many things that those who are facing "mental illness" are going through.

Those that are looking from the outside in are not able to understand what those who are going through such a thing are going through. In their way of trying to help they use words and phases such as their illness is in their head, or they just need to get over it. Another one that is used is to try and take away from it by saying there are worse things out there, or someone else has it harder then they do. To one that is struggling what they are facing is real to them and is a concern. In others knowing that what they face is legit they can get support which helps them get through anything they are facing.
Natasha Tracy
says:
September, 13 2011 at 6:55 am
Lynoth,

You're welcome. It's one of my favourite messages to give people - you're not alone.

- Natasha
Lynoth
says:
September, 13 2011 at 5:30 am
"Why is it that just because I see a psychiatrist and you see a neurologist your disease is real and mine is not?" - this brought tears to my eyes, it is so exactly what I say in my head so often. Thank you my dear. Your words help me feel less alone.
Robin Olaughlin
says:
August, 27 2011 at 2:47 am
Thank you for writing this. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of ignorance that people have about mental illness- even those who claim to be educated. I think people talk out of their butts to hide their own issues or insecurities. Finding positive supports will always trump those who try to bring you down to their level
Natasha Tracy
says:
August, 23 2011 at 5:34 am
Hi Anita,

I can't tell you how sorry I am that you have had these experiences. Many people are with you on this. Many people have been yelled at by preachers. Many people have been told their illness doesn't exist. Many people treat mental illness like a little personal flaw like biting your nails.

You are not alone in those experiences.

But this stems from ignorance. Your family is ignorant. They just, plain, don't know what they're talking about. You need to remember that when they say things that make no sense.

If possible, you could help by educating them. Print some information off the internet (this post if you like) get a good book, or take someone you trust to therapy with you. You can help them become understanding once they have the knowledge to do so.

But it's possible that your family may never be able to give you what you need. That is a fact of life. Some of us are in that position.

Well, hear this -

- there are people who understand and who will support you.

I promise. There are people like me and everyone else who has responded here who understand what you're going through. You are not alone.

Maybe you could join a mental health support group, people often find they feel less alone when they do that. (Google NAMI for a starting place.)

You deserve better. You have an illness and it's about time people stood beside you so you could fight that illness together.

- Natasha
Anita Brooks
says:
August, 22 2011 at 1:52 pm
PS- thank you so much for writing this. I wish I had a friend like you.
Anita Brooks
says:
August, 22 2011 at 1:47 pm
For YEARS I have been dealing with this illness, but only now have I been diagnosed. Since I was a child I saw and heard terrible things, went into powerful mood swings and cried a lot. At anytime of day (especially at night though), I'd be so terrified of the things of the things I saw that I'd crawl in the corner and rock until I feel asleep. In my mind I had many friends, and as well as enemies. I'd hear several conversations throughout the day. I told my grandmother about all this and all she'd do is ignore me. A few times she dragged me to church while the pastor yelled at my "demons" to come out. Of course, after that I was even more traumatized. For years I just prayed and developed my own coping mechanisms. I became active in sports, dance,acting and much more, not only because I loved it,but because it was a distraction. As I got older, I somehow managed to drown out the voices-I'm down to maybe one to three. I still here the running commentary or conversations. I even hear a man telling me about his day. It drives me crazy sometimes, and sometimes I just listen to him, lol. I'm 28 now and while things aren't nearly as horrifying as they were, I still hear and see things. I lie still for hours. I get manic. My obsessive thoughts keep me up for hours, even days. I still fly into rages and cry for no reason-basically I still show signs of SAD. At night I'm terrified that someone or something is out to get me. I don't sleep cuz I'm in the corner on the floor waiting for that "thing" to come. I have fears that my dress form and wig stand will come alive. I long for the day because it's easier to handle. I just get so scared. If anyone is wondering why I waited so long--lack of insurance, for one. The other reason is that I got so used to no one else caring, I just learned not to care. I told the closest family members and fiancee of my feelings and recent diagnosis, myfamily doesn't seem to care. My man is trying to understand. My mother didn't want to hear the symptoms or what I'd learned-instead she threw scriptures at me. My aunt just shrugged and suggested that this was the manifestations of all my bad choices. Isn't that strange? I mean I feel so alone, and that I will have to deal with this alone for the rest of my life. I don't pester anyone with this, I mean no one visits me or calls so it's not like I am or will be a burden. I mean family isn't supposed to give a damn? I love them and would do anything for them and have done so much for my family without prompting, I am there for them at the drop of a hat, but now I've never felt so alone. Why would they do this to me? My apologies for rambling but I had to get it all out. My aunt told me yesterday that I was just faking it, and just cuz a Dr tells me something i shouldn't start acting that way. Although she finally admitted to remembering me tell her I need help. Her response to my anger that she was just giving me a "little" loving criticism. Wow. Just...wow.
Fletcher Wortmann
says:
August, 19 2011 at 8:35 am
Thank you for writing this. I think the most destructive aspect of this kind of talk is that it can discourage sufferers from seeking treatment - I spent a very long time attempting to eliminate my OCD and depression through sheer force of will, convinced that my unhappiness was somehow my fault. I hope someone struggling like I was will stumble across this post and consider seeking help.
Jasmine
says:
July, 11 2011 at 10:08 am
Never heard more TRUER words! Thank you for making this article I'm gonna read it to my mom.
Benee'
says:
June, 29 2011 at 4:51 pm
hi natasha-
i guess i should clarify, my comments. they were not directed to anyone n particular, just running off at the mouth. i read some of the comments left here. it makes me so sad that we are in fact abused and at times not even aware of it. family members that don't understand, organization...A.A. (no resentment there-as she snickers under her breath), and the people that know you but DON'T know you, the ones that say those things about wanting to trade lives with you because of the car i drive, the house i live in, the way i look on the outside. that mask i put on before going out the door. that is when i can get out the door or the bed for that matter. i'm sure none of them could even imagine the pain and suffering that we go through to even want to breath on some days. would they want to trade lives with me these last 3 weeks? i've been in my jammies, haven't showered in a week. i wake up to go back to sleep and then wait for bed time to go back to sleep AGAIN!
it's been pretty bad this time, if not for my son, "tourette boy" telling me "I FUCKING LOVE BARENEE" (his nickname for me, and he does HAVE tourette's) i don't know what i would have done. he's the best cheerleader i have,when he knows i'm "sick" he shakes my head and says, "bad fucking head, you leave barenee alone" if he only knew that he might have just saved my life. blessings to you all! i'm going to bed.....YAWN
Natasha Tracy
says:
June, 29 2011 at 12:54 pm
Hi Linda,

I quoted your comment and did a video commentary on the dynamic: http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2011/06/what-are-you-bipolar-mental-illness-as-a-weapon-video/

- Natasha

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