Good morning, Dear Readers!
I read something this morning. It said it’s best not to say “It’ll get better. You need to move on” to someone who is depressed; instead say, “It’s ok to be sad.” While this makes sense to me, I got to thinking- there are plenty of things that those of us struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD or C-PTSD do NOT need to hear. I hope writing them here will help you to respond to others when they say these things to you. And, unfortunately someone will say something hurtful or invalidating to you. Even the most well-meaning people slip up sometimes. No human is perfect!
-“Get over it.” “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.” Cold, heartless statements like this are very shaming, & there should be no shame in having a mental illness any more than in having a physical illness. “Is there anything I can do to help you?” is a much better thing to say!
-“Yanno, *insert name here* has it way worse than you. You should be grateful you didn’t go through what she did!” This only makes a person feel guilty for being depressed or having PTSD because that other person survived worse things than you did. No one should feel guilty for struggling with a mental disorder! Ever! Instead, offering support without judgement is a MUCH better alternative!
-“I wish you would smile more often.” News flash- you’re not the only one! Mental illness is miserable! Smiling is a hard thing to do when going through a depressive episode or PTSD/C-PTSD is flaring up! How about instead offering reassurance that she isn’t crazy or bad or whatever she may be feeling?
-“Life can be hard.” While this is true, this hurts! It makes a person feel like she doesn’t matter. Make sure she knows she *does* matter instead!
-“You just need to think more positive/pray more often.” “Happiness is a choice.” “Christians don’t have mental illness!” While there is great power in prayer & positive thinking, mental illnesses are just that- illnesses. God certainly is able to deliver you suddenly from any situation, however, I believe He prefers to walk with us through the situation. Remember Psalm 23? “Yea, though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death..” Going through things offers us great wisdom & experience which can help other people who are going through similar situations. Sudden deliverance is nice, but it doesn’t teach anything. Going through trying, painful times has a purpose! How about instead offering to pray or with her??
-“I had a bad childhood too, but I just don’t think about it.” Well goody for you. If that works for you, fine, but some of us experienced brutal abuse that we can’t forget, as much as we might like to. Although we don’t think about it voluntarily, we still experience nightmares, flashbacks, & intrusive memories even though we would like never to have such things again. The past just doesn’t want to let us go, even though we have done our best to let it go. Understanding that & the frustration we feel over it would go a long way!
-“You just need to find the right medication & you’ll be fine.” Not necessarily true! While sometimes anxiety & depression are basically simple malfunctions in the brain that can be fixed with medication, more often they are instead connected to abuse in one’s past. This means while the right medications may help some, counseling & other treatments are needed, especially if they are connected to PTSD/C-PTSD. How about learning about your loved one’s mental illness & the treatments involved instead?
-“You just need to get out more.” Really?? Many of us with PTSD/C-PTSD have agoraphobia, & leaving home only causes more anxiety. Anyone who knows even a little about PTSD/C-PTSD understands this. Again, learn about your loved one’s disorder.