Why Rose-Colored Glasses Don't Help Mental Illness

September 27, 2018 Natasha Tracy

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I'm quite convinced wearing rose-colored glasses doesn't help a mental illness. In fact, I'm pretty sure that wearing rose-colored glasses doesn't help most people at all. When I watch people with them on it actually drives me bonkers. Here's why rose-colored glasses don't help mental illness and definitely don't work for me.

What Are Rose-Colored Glasses?

I'm pretty sure most people know of rose-colored glasses. They are simply the idea of looking at the world through a "rosy glow" such that everything looks positive regardless as to its actual character. Now, this is different than simply looking at the bright side or looking for the actual positive in life. Rose-colored glasses insist that everything is positive even when it isn't. Looking for the positive is simply trying to look for genuinely positive things. The latter is reasonable while rose-colored glasses are not and they don't help a mental illness, either.

Why Don't Rose-Colored Glasses Help Mental Illness?

I guess you might think that seeing the world as made up candy-canes and lollipops would be a good thing. How could seeing all those positives actually be bad? That's simple: wearing rose-colored glasses that radiate all-encompassing, unrealistic positivity is just another word for denial

And denial is decided a bad trait in life in general but in mental illness specifically. It's a bad quality not to be able to see things that really are painful or negative. This means you're not dealing with life it is but, rather, are attempting to write your own fairytale. And life is decidedly not a fairytale and trying to make it one will bite you in the end.

For example, with mental illness. If I'm wearing rose-colored glasses, I'm incapable of admitting that I'm depressed or that I see a depression coming. This means that I'm not to use coping skills to deal with a depression that doesn't exist. And I'm not going to take steps to avert a depression that I don't see coming either. People with rose-colored glasses are just "sure" that won't happen.

But the problem is, with mental illness, it will happen for many. You can look on the bright side until you burn out your retinas, it doesn't stop problems from occurring and it doesn't stop an illness either. Rose-colored glasses can't shrink tumors, can't avert traffic accidents and can't fix mental illness, either.

Rose-Colored Glasses Stand in the Way of Reality

Rose-colored glasses get in the way of you dealing with reality. And reality is a critical thing to deal with for everyone. If, for example, your friend is addicted to methamphetamines and every time you see him, he steals from you, chances are, the next time he's going to steal from you again and he's not going to get better until he enters treatment. If you don't deal with this reality, you're just going to get stolen from and hurt over and over again.

It's the same with having a mental illness and rose-colored glasses. If I can't deal with all the crap of mental illness, then I can't make any of it better. You can't defeat (or even wound) an enemy that you insist isn't there. And believe me, mental illnesses like bipolar disorder are, indeed, the enemy of many.

So don't be scared of reality. Take off your rose-colored glasses. Appreciate the range of colors that life actually has to offer -- even the dark ones.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2018, September 27). Why Rose-Colored Glasses Don't Help Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 22 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

May, 13 2020 at 12:38 pm

It's how I live .. positive vibes. I never dodge the messy stuff I face it head on like a freight train... then I embrace the beauty of rose colored glasses. No mental illness unless ADHD counts.. Blessings ! #onelove

February, 26 2019 at 12:25 pm

Thank you, Natasha, for voicing these important realities that we must accept first in order to live with them. Knowledge is power, denial undermines that power. Developing coping strategies is vital for managing to live with any illness. If you pretend there's nothing wrong, what chance do you have of surviving? As you say, learn to recognise (and appreciate) all the colours in the spectrum of your life living with bipolar. The mood rainbow, what a wonderful metaphor.

Charles Mistretta
October, 3 2018 at 8:43 am

Action creates a distraction that in turn change the way you think and feel. Unless you act your thoughts are like a script that gets unsaid. Admittedly some actions are counter reproductive and send you spiraling down self harm. You are the CEO of a corporation called myself. Profit wisely from your decisions.

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