Being open about a mental health issue isn’t always easy. But when met with comments that are ignorant, off the mark, or just plain insensitive, it’s enough to make a person regret they ever spoke about it at all.
Recently, Hattie Gladwell, a reporter for the UK newspaper, Metro, asked people to share, “the most unhelpful/insensitive thing someone has said to you about your mental illness.” To get things started, she volunteered one of her own, using #ThingsPeopleHaveSaidAboutMyMentalIllness.
It didn’t take long, for those who could commiserate with Gladwell, to share similar stories.
Read Gladwell’s original Tweet:
Quote this tweet with the most unhelpful/insensitive thing someone has said to you about your mental illness.
I’ll start: One person told me I didn’t need medication, I just needed to be more motivated to cope with my mental health. #ThingsPeopleHaveSaidAboutMyMentalIllness
— hattie gladwell (@hatttiegladwell) May 6, 2018
Here’s a smattering of what people said:
“I guess I just have more pressing things to be worried about” after telling them how my anxiety was going into over drive and on the edge of a panic attack.
— Kayli Marie (@Kaylsberry) May 11, 2018
that my anorexia/bulimia was due to boredom and i should find a hobby or get a job
— ME⅁HAN❤️ (@meghxnx) May 10, 2018
While at work I told I member of the public that I was having a panic attack and would be right back. Her response was to laugh and say, “Are you kidding me?”
And later to my supervisor: “She needs to get a grip.”#ThingsPeopleHaveSaidAboutMyMentalIllness
— Rachael Bejin (@rachaelbejin) May 12, 2018
Friend: “You’re the saddest person I’ve met who doesn’t have anything to be sad about”. #ThingsPeopleHaveSaidAboutMyMentalIllness
— BirdLaw (@Meg_and_Midge) May 12, 2018
Of course there’s the classic:
it's all in your head
— Bubblie Fae Hope (@TauraEire) May 10, 2018
Seems like this person has truly heard it all before:
“Why don’t you work out more?”
“Those medications are poison.”
“Yeah, but at least you’re not _____ (insert something about physical disability here).”
“You don’t LOOK depressed.”
“Have you just tried being happy?”
“I get sad sometimes, too.”
— Naomi C. Zander-Goodwin | נעמי (@NaomiChristyne) May 10, 2018
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers some eyeopening statistics on mental illness such as:
1. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
2. Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.
3. Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.
Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, medical doctors said some of the most insensitive things:
Drs said “you’d never know anything was wrong by looking at you”; “I’ll just prescribe the same thing [anxiety meds] we give to people who are nervous about their driving test” #ThingsPeopleHaveSaidAboutMyMentalIllness
— BirdLaw (@Meg_and_Midge) May 12, 2018
Not to me, but my mum was feeling suicidal and went to her doctor saying she was worried she might kill herself.
The doctor GENUINELY told her to “come back in three weeks and see how [she] feels then”.
Luckily, the paramedics took her more seriously & she’s since recovered.
— Lady A (@AllLadyA) May 6, 2018
My ex doctor literally had the nerve to say “those who do it don't talk about it” when I told him I was suicidal and worried I might kill myself as a way of trying to dismiss my symptoms
— gossipdair (@agenderism) May 10, 2018
As did therapists:
Wasn’t even something that she said. I would repeatedly try to bring up issues i was struggling with and she would only ever ask me how my son was doing. He’s great thanks for asking, now how about asking how I’m doing, since I’m paying you. I don’t go to her anymore.
— Steve Maston (@steve_CFC3) May 10, 2018
“Everyone has a stressful job, I have a stressful job, what makes you think yours should be treated as better than everyone else?” – from a therapist after my suicide attempt.
I asked if he really thought that was helpful, “I’m not here to help you, you need to help yourself”
— Joe (@joesgotcrohns) May 6, 2018
My first psychiatrist, after my first suicide attempt, at age 17 greeted my in her office with “Now. Don’t we feel silly?”
Um. I couldn’t speak for her but as for me… No.
— Mudhooks (@Mudhooks) May 7, 2018
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This 24-7 national network of local crisis centers provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.