Summer is in full swing!! Oh the joys of summer, summer, summer timeeee!! I’ve been a little busy and less motivated as of late. But this too shall pass. Or will it?? That’s the question I silently scream in my head when someone tells me “oh you’re depressed, this too shall pass.
*insert eye and neck rolls*
chileeeeeeeeeee Can you NOT tell me “this too shall pass” when it’s been months of ups and downs, highs and lows.
Depression is not a kidney stone that passes in your urine or a bad case of constipation that passes through your guts. However, some people treat depression like it’s some temporary (sometimes it is) physical inconvenience. IT’S NOT!!!
Here’s my list of the top 5 things I wish people would not say in response to someone experiencing a mental illness. Why am I sharing? Mostly because I can and more importantly to help you help me and others that experience mental illness.
1. I’m praying for you: Now friends before you roll your eyes and close your web browser. Hear me out. I appreciate prayers because I need them all the time. HOWEVER, if I or anyone discloses to you that they are feeling depressed, sad, suicidal, anxious, or any other symptom of mental illness. I can guarantee you 2 things. The first is that they trust and value the connection they have with you. So, don’t just brush them off with a prayer. The second thing is this, if someone shares with you any of the above, this is their verbalization of their needing help. After you pray with or for them, ask if they need to talk about what’s going on, ask them if they want to get coffee, see a movie or anything that shows them you care about their well-being
2. This too shall pass: Please see my opening comment. Seriously tho, mental illness is not the flu, a stomach virus or sunburn. You can’t wait out mental illness just like you can’t wait out diabetes. No one passes a manic episode. Just like fine wine it takes a minute to recognize the mental illness, reach out for help and start treatment. The treatment of mental illness is not 2 clicks of the heels and voila, you’re healed. At the end of the day, it’s not helpful to tell someone who is experiencing a mental illness that this too shall pass. More than likely, they’ve been waiting for weeks or even months for the symptoms of their mental illness to pass, and they haven’t.
3. Have you prayed about it?: Please see #1. Of course, I’ve prayed, cried, slept, ate all the food, wrote about it. If I come to you, talk to me without judgement or 21 questions. I’m not 50 Cent.
4. What’s wrong with you? ; If I had $20 for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d be able to go on a trip around the world twice. In most cases, when someone is experiencing a mental illness and you ask them this question, they will more than likely say I don’t know. It’s not because they are trying to be secretive or evasive, they really can’t put into words “what’s wrong”. They may desperately wish to verbalize what’s wrong, however they may not be able to find the most appropriate words. Just be there for them when they reach out to you, don’t try to diagnose them, or tell them what’s wrong with them. Just be a friend and let them know that you are there for them.
5. You don’t need therapy. COULD YOU NOT, tell me what I need. Unless of course you are a LCSW, LMHC, LMFT, PSYD or anyone that is licensed and able to formally assess and diagnose mental illness, don’t tell me or anyone else that they should NOT seek professional help. It’s like telling a Cancer patient not to go to chemo. It’s just not helpful. Encourage someone to seek assistance when they come to you and indicate that they are considering seeking professional help. Offer to help them look for providers and treatment options.
Nope, I’m not licensed in mental health treatment, but I have experienced all the above and wish I had the guts to speak up and say these things in the moment. Lesson of the day, people don’t know unless you tell them and what they don’t know will hurt you.
Thanks for stopping by! Be blessed and be well.