For anyone who has been diagnosed with a psychological disorder, I think one of the most frustrating things is to be offered snippets of advice, motivation or platitudes.
More often than not these come from people who really care, but just don’t understand. It is our responsibility to help them understand. We need to take ownership of the situation as well.
I have decided to explain the reality of my situation and reactions to those around me ;-
I have assured them that I know and appreciate their concern and care. I have explained that when I get annoyed or don’t respond to their words or advice, it is as I result of my reality . It does not mean that I don’t love them or need them.
Mostly I would just want to know that they are there and that I haven’t frightened them off. I’ve assured them that they don’t need to do anything else. There is no need to feel that they aren’t doing enough.
I let them know that I will ask if I need anything, but my therapist and mental health community are who I mostly need to turn to. We are a community who understands each other.
Having said that, here are 10 pieces of advice and comments that frustrate me most;-
(I must confess that when these are directed at me by people who don’t care and are merely judging me, my reactions are sometimes not ideal and most likely to perpetuate the thought that I am crazy. The upside is that I am often never ‘bothered’ by these people again.)
Just focus on being positive, think positive thoughts”. Positive thoughts don’t affect the chemistry of my brain. Right now I can’t even think.
“You have so much to be grateful for”. I am grateful for all the good things and blessings in my life. If gratitude could fix me, I would have been fixed a long time ago. I am most grateful for the days I just feel normal.
“How bad can it be?” Very bad, a bad that I hope you never have to experience.
” It is so nice to see you looking so bright and positive.”It’s nice for me too provided it isn’t the beginnings of some kind of manic episode or meltdown.
“You’ve always been such a drama queen.” I’m nothing of the sort, I just experience the world around me in a different way to your experience. Often I don’t have control over my emotions.
“Now that you are on the right medication you’ll be much better.” Yes, I am hoping that I will, but it’s a guessing game as to what works. And yes, once it works I will feel much better but even then I may still have feelings, emotions and reactions that are out of my control. Please don’t judge me for this.
“You’ve been seeing your therapist for so long now, surely you don’t need to see him/her anymore/that often?”I do, I need support, I need someone who understands my situation and is able to provide constructive advice and coping techniques.
“Aren’t you going to get addicted to all that medication?” Perhaps, but I am going to have to take it for the rest of my life. It’s my lifeline. I hate having to take medication every day.
“When are you going to be over this/get better?”It is a permanent medical condition much like any other physical condition, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean I can’t feel it.
And then there’s the one pertaining especially to me. “I can’t believe you went on such a crazy shopping spree again, don’t you learn from you mistakes?”Well yes I am trying to do this, that’s why I don’t like shopping malls and try to avoid them. Please don’t tell me I need to get over my fear of shopping malls. Please don’t frown upon or be embarrassed about my panic attacks at shopping malls.
Please don’t tell me I’m lazy or taking advantage when I ask you to do shopping for me. This is my way of removing myself from a potentially dangerous situation, much like an asthma sufferer who wouldn’t roll around in a field of hay.
I am hoping that by explaining this to those around me, by sharing this post and by continuing to spread the message, I will in some small way be assisting to diminish the stigma surrounding mental disorders.