Before I start off, I just want to say that I’m not trying to make anybody feel bad about the content of this post. People who never dealt with mental illness have a hard time understanding it, and that is totally fine and very understandable!
But I need to say something that actually kind of hurts me at times. And that’s the words: “just be positive”.
I get it, everybody should try to be. Being positive is actually what I’m trying to say about how you deal with your mental illness, to try and think of the positives or your superpowers from your struggles – but that comes with the acceptance of your illness. Not as something you just do or become, like the flip of a switch.
The thing is, people who tell me to just be positive, are often the people who never had to deal with mental illness first hand. These people are just trying to help me, and I’m sure it’s all in good faith. Cause it seems so simple, right? And how can you not think that way if you’ve never been your own worst enemy? I would probably think that way too, had I never dealt with what I’m dealing with.
My problem is not the fact that people are trying to help, my problem is in the way these words are being said. Sometimes, it feels like we’re being told it’s our choice to have mental struggles, and that we can make it disappear by just being positive. When people tell me this, a huge part of me just wants to scream: “Do you think I want to be like this? or,”oh gosh, thanks, I never thought of that, I’m cured!”. But you can’t just say that. Or you could, but I don’t think anything good would come from it. So instead, I have tried to explain it with an analogy:
What I normally tell people is to imagine them having a fight with someone. This person is frustrating you big time, and you can almost feel the anger in your fingertips – that’s how mad you are. It seems like you’re just not getting through to the person you’re fighting with. They won’t listen! You get angrier and angrier, and then finally you just give in because it’s too hard to keep fighting. You’re not getting anywhere, so what’s the point? Now, fighting generally isn’t a good experience. But then, imagine the person you’re fighting with is yourself.
Cause that is exactly what happens in my brain when I’m in a bad place. I can fight with myself for hours, even days! My common sense will be saying “your friends don’t hate you, they just knew you couldn’t hang out today, that’s why they didn’t ask you” but the other part of me is saying “they hate you, they never want to talk to you again, and they’re doing all of this on purpose” not listening to my common sense at all.
It sounds extreme, but that is what happens. It also sounds like I could just listen to my common sense, right? But I can’t. Cause that other part of me takes over. It’s like this dark cloud coming in from nowhere, with a thunderstorm, and you don’t know when it’s going to pass. And finally, you just give in to it and let it happen. Cause it’s too exhausting trying to fight it. The feelings are too overwhelming to ignore.
When these feelings hit me, this is where I now started opening up and talking about it. Cause how are people who never dealt with these internal fights ever going to understand how we can’t just be positive if we don’t let them in on why? I know it can be hard to talk about, and it can also be extremely hard to explain what’s really going on in there, especially to people who don’t understand. But I’ve found the analogy to help me explain it in a way others can understand.
As I said before, my problem isn’t the fact that people are trying to help. I love that! But those three words “just be positive” can be so incredibly painful to hear. Cause that’s really all we want. People who struggle with mental illness really just want to get better, we want to be positive more than anything! And my god, do we wish it was that easy. We need time, we need to be working hard, and we need support – “just be positive” is not support for us. It’s difficult words to hear.
Keep on helping each other by showing support! If you want to help someone who struggles, you don’t even have to say anything. We just need to know we have people around us who are willing to listen to us when we just need to get the thoughts out of our heads, and who will still love us and help us when we’re down and can’t find our way back up. With that support, maybe we can be positive one day!
Do you guys have any special ways of explaining your mental illness? If so, let me know! And for the people who are trying to help a person struggling, what are the ways you try to do that? I would love to hear from you too!
And remember: You are Non Solum ❤