Okay, I’m just going to come out with it and say I’m more than a little tired of the opinions people throw out about mental illness. You know, it’s like when you have a kid to raise and people try to tell you that you are parenting wrong and you just want to choke them because you know that you have made the best choices for you and how could anyone not in your personal shoes know that?
I’m Bipolar (and, yes, this subject will get revisited pretty frequently) these “episodes” happen more than I’d like. I’m learning to live with the illness, what I’m not learning to live with is unsolicited advice from people who think they know what they are talking about… but in fact don’t.
Please allow me to share just 5 of these things that irk me, that maybe you too can think twice about before offering advice to others with mental illness.
“Stop taking those meds! That’s poison for your body!” Well, okay, I’ll give you that, but would you honestly tell a cancer patient to stop taking chemo because it’s poison? I hope you wouldn’t because that poison is possibly the only chance at saving their life! And with being Bipolar it can often be the difference between life and death as well. People often think of Bipolar as the ‘moody disorder’ but it is far beyond that. This Bipolar site gives a better idea that it is not just about mood… totally legit. I have ended up in the hospital several times because I almost killed myself. And harming myself is something I fight often. It isn’t that I hate myself. It’s that my mind likes to tell me to do things that I know isn’t healthy. In the end, with medication. We have to pick our battles. I’m crunchy about a lot of stuff. My nail polish is even non toxic. So, if I choose to take medication into my body that you think is bad for me, but I know it is is the only thing that keeps me on this end of the keyboard and not in a coffin. I’m not trying to sound over the top here. Just being truthful. Lots of people die from Bipolar. From self medication, from no medication, from bullying, from being on medication, but the Doctor got the wrong one and one of the above then one of the above happened. So, just don’t play like you are a Doctor unless you actually are one and assigned to my personal wellbeing.
Diet and Exercise people. I kind of get where these people are coming from because I’ve been raised with these people all my life and I have used this as a supplemental help for my mental well being and my Chronic Illness that I wrote about Here. So, yes, diet and exercise play a huge role in our health, but they aren’t the end all be all. You cannot control mental illness with just diet and exercise. I ended up in the mental hospital when I was on a very healthy diet. I know for a fact that you can have a breakdown while on a good diet. So, yeah, I get where you are coming from. I don’t care if you think you have cured your mental illness with Diet and Exercise. I really don’t care if your sister’s best friend cured hers. HA! If you aren’t my Doctor you should not be telling me that Diet and Exercise is the end all be all cure. (P.S. this is very different from when people blog about their personal stories, I hope we are taking stuff like that with a grain of salt and chasing it down with bringing it up with our Doctor anyway.)
“It’s all in your head” people which I think should really also be paired with the “It will go away on it’s own” people. To the first No Duh, its all in my head. That’s why it’s called Mental Illness. Haha. But, to be a little more serious here. I’m not sure that these people actually hear themselves. It’s really mean to say this to people! Or to give someone false hope because mental illness is basically a short circuit in the brain. That is not going to go away. You may experience periods of time where you remain steady in either manic or depressive and it feels like it has gone away because you no longer known what normal is anymore. Ha, I’ve gone and told people I slept good the night before because I got 4 hours of sleep in instead of staying up around the clock! So, yeah, if you aren’t my Doctor don’t tell me that it is going to go away. That’s not your call to make.
Religion/Spirituality I tread carefully here, because I find it offensive that anyone makes this connection. But, I do realize that not all people make this connection. If you know what I mean. I just want to make sure that you know. I feel this covers everything from feeling that I somehow have a demon inside me, not having “Found” the “correct” religion, to just needing to meditate and all this will go away. I have known many religious and spiritual people that have struggled with mental illness of all kinds. And besides, has anyone ever considered that being told you have a demon inside you is just not nice? Thankfully actual doctors don’t make a practice of making this connection and if mine did, he would no longer be my doctor.
Asking “Does this mean you will kill me in my sleep?” For more of us mentally unwell it’s about “ME” if you get it. Even if I go without my meds, I’m more of a harm to myself than to anyone else. I’m sure there are a few people with mental illness likely to be violent. But, most of the time there are other issues involved. Like heavy drug and alcohol usage. And even then, my little brother was Bipolar and on Heroin and an Alcoholic and he was really the sweetest person ever. When he got angry he took it out on himself. And he was always giving, and serving others, in everyway he could. He was such a tortured soul. Anyhow, asking if someone is going to kill because of a mental illness just goes to show that maybe that person needs to go read that link that I shared about Bipolar. Because it’s kind of hurtful. And my Doctor has never asked me if I felt like hurting others even though he knows that I live in a high stress, high hate environment. He asks me if I feel like hurting myself because that has a much higher chance of happening, even while on medication.
I think it’s safe to say that the take away message here is that, if you aren’t a doctor or the physician of the person in question. It’s not your business.
The only exception to this rule is if you are someone that honestly loves and cares about this person and you think that self harm or suicide are emanate. Then you should drag that person into the doctor or the hospital as needed.
Do you or a loved one suffer from a mental illness that you wish more people understood?