Mental Health problems have such a horrible stigma attached to them. If someone has cancer most people send love, support, and well wishes to the sufferer and their family, but if someone comes out and says they’re Bipolar it can leave people twitching in their seats. An automatic discomfort floods over them. Why?
Things relating to mental health issues tend to be very hush hush. You have depression? Well you just need to buck up and deal with your problems head on. Look at the glass half full. Gee, thanks. I’ll log that away in my file of useless advice I’ve already heard. You have anxiety? Well you just need to calm down. Do some yoga. Regular exercise will burn away calories and excess worry! Yeah…because that’s how it works. You have self-harming tendencies? Well you just… I’m going to stop you right there. The whole “well you just” nonsense is not, I repeat, is NOT helpful.
If it was as simple as “well you just” don’t you think I would have “just” done it by now? Do you think anyone who suffers from mental health issues chooses to see the world as they see it? Our brains do not function and process things the way a healthy brain should. Our views get warped by our illnesses. It is a grueling fight to battle with ourselves and so many of us keep it hidden from the outside world. Why? Because society makes us feel like we can’t talk about them because if we let others see the darkness within us our lives could become devastatingly overturned.
If you tell the wrong person this, that, or the other about your mental illness and the darkness you keep inside, they could rip your entire life apart. I’ve seen it done to mentally well people for far less. Now throw in a mental illness and social workers will have a freaking hay-day. No thank you.
Having a mental illness does not always mean an individual is dangerous and we (as a society) need to stop treating individuals with these invisible illnesses as if they are lepers. If you are unable to handle the fact that so-and-so are unwell, explain to them you don’t feel equipped to properly help them in the way they need it and point them in the direction of someone who can. Don’t try to brush it off like it’s not a big deal. It IS a big deal to us and if someone comes to you and tells you of their struggles it’s because they have finally reached a point where they can no longer bear the weight of it all on their own.
Everyone has their limits and some can handle more than others. There is NO shame in that. So what may not seem like a big deal to you is a huge deal to someone else. Do not judge. Be there to help and support if you can and if you are unable then do your best to send them in the direction of someone else who can help them. It is not your place to decide what they should or shouldn’t be able to handle.