Mental health is very difficult to understand and it’s much harder when you’re experiencing it second hand with little prior experience. It can be hard to know what to say, what to do and just how to be around somebody when they aren’t feeling their best.
There are so many wrong things that somebody could say and although they’re not intentional and come from the best place, they can be really frustrating to hear while you’re already so caught up in your own feelings and not fully understanding why or what is happening to you. So, if you aren’t too sure what the best things to say are, I’ll give you a little help by sharing 7 things not to say.
It’s just …
“It’s just asking a question”, “it’s just going to the shop” … It’s never just anything when you have anxiety. The simplest of tasks to one person can literally be the most difficult thing for somebody who struggles. It’s also blindingly obvious to the sufferer that it’s a really simple task that they are struggling to do, don’t make it worse.
When you struggle with anxiety, it can be difficult to think positive OR you can be thinking entirely positive but simply cannot escape it. It isn’t a case of think positive and you will feel positive – it consumes you.
You were OK yesterday
Anxiety can make a person anxious all the time, some of the time or very on and off. Different people have different triggers and something that can cause anxiety one day could be completely manageable the next day.
It could also be the case that the individual has a certain extent of control over their anxiety and can easily do something one day that they struggle with the next day. It’s important to recognise that anxiety isn’t an illness you can see from the outside so although something may look easy, all sorts can be going on within.
It wouldn’t be this way if you didn’t let it control you
It’s really not that easy and although some people think it’s as simple as turning off a switch, it isn’t. Nobody wants it to control them or the way they react to things.
Believe it or not, calmness is the goal. Nobody wants to get stressed/worked up over little things but it cannot be helped.
What have I done?
One of the worst possible things to do (in my opinion) is think you are at fault. Don’t get me wrong, you very well could be a contributing factor, but saying something along these lines is horrible to hear. It makes the sufferer feel guilty that you feel this way because of something they simply cannot help.
You aren’t the only one / People are much worse than you
Mental illnesses can be the most selfish illness because of the way it makes you feel. When you feel awful, all you can think about is yourself. So, despite knowing you aren’t the only person going through this, it still feels that way.
When anxiety takes over, it is the worst feeling and in that moment, as selfish as it sounds, nobody is worse than you. This thing is taking over your wellbeing and in that moment, it’s hell.
If finding the right words isn’t your forte, simply being there during a bad time can be the best thing. It might not be easy because I know a lot of people who struggle with mental health like to do this little thing of pushing loved ones away (me included) but fight through it and stay. You’ll soon learn what the right and wrong things to say are.
Is there anything you hate hearing?