the worst things to say


Natasha Tracy’s list of worst things to say to a person with a mental illness, from her article Stop Minimizing Mental Illness: Worst Things to Say at her blog| Breaking Bipolar:

  1. Snap out of it
  2. There are a lot of people worse off than you
  3. You have so many things to be thankful for, how can you be depressed?
  4. You’d feel better if you got off all those pills
  5. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger
  6. Go out and have some fun
  7. I know how you feel
  8. So you’re depressed, aren’t you always?
  9. This too shall pass
  10. We all have our crosses to bear

Natasha’s personal favourite is We create our own reality.

The one I would ad to this list is We all feel that way sometimes. This is, of course, and like all the others in this list, coming from a loving and well-meaning place — in this case, that I am not a complete wierdo, not so different, not defective, since what i feel is not so different from others; but then, what is the point of a diagnosis? Doesn’t that mean that while I have the same feelings as others, they are more intense and last longer and this is the disability? The effect of this phrase is that I feel shame, guilt and confusion. Oh, if everyone feels that way, and I am the only one who is needing support around this, I must be a real loser.

My own mind begins a relentless loop of shaming put-downs, which often resembles the contents of Natasha’s second list, of the inherant messages in the statements above:

  1. They could choose not to be sick if they really wanted
  2. Their illness is not serious
  3. They have no “reason” to be ill
  4. Their treatment is wrong
  5. They’ll be better off from it
  6. They would be fine if they would just “go out”
  7. Their illness is minimal
  8. Their pain doesn’t matter
  9. They should just wait for the pain to end
  10. Their illness is just like anyone else’s problem
  11. They choose to be sick

And here we have arrived again, at the old corner debate of weak vs. ill. Do i need a big kick in the ass and to just “stop listening” to the thoughts and feelings I have, or do I need to accept that it’s not as simple as that, forgive myself, and lead my life accordingly. Again and again, I see that the kick in the ass theory can have disastrous consequences. That I am so hard on myself that few sane people would survive a day in my brain. That I have accomplished a lot with the kick ass technique, but that it has further damaged my brain and almost cost me my life.

Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Furthermore, and as Natasha speaks about also in the last part of her post, others are not so lucky as to write about it. Death by mental illness is a real and prevalent threat — a lot more prevalent than a lot of people are able to see.

I’m going to finish by recommending another one of Natasha’s posts, about the best things to say to someone with a mental illness. More people need to know these things. People with mental illness, or in trauma recovery, are far from minority status in the world. The status quo is the new minority.


Author: innerlight

A capricorn horse. Creative dreamer, over thinker. bpd, insecure attachment and any other labels for deep and chronic wounds and other gifts of brilliance that propel intense and eclectic lives and make for good art. We are high needs and high return, all the way, all the way. Surrender, integration, repair, rebuild, connect, create, evolve. Deeply.

5 thoughts on “the worst things to say

  1. Hi,

    I really appreciate that you like the article so much. Thank-you.

    Unfortunately, you cannot reproduce it without the expressed consent of as they own that content.

    You may quote a portion of the article, if you like, but you cannot reproduce it in its entirety.


    – Natasha Tracy

    • Very sorry about that, Natasha — I didn’t realize there could be an issue as long as I gave proper credit and didn’t alter it. Maybe I am naive (highly probable). At any rate, thank you for letting me know in a gentle way that everyone can benefit from. I have revised the post; please let me know if there are any other requirements I have breached or not met. All the best, Underground.

  2. No problem.

    Looks good to me now 🙂

    – Natasha Tracy

  3. Pingback: My Views on Suicide « kstruggles

  4. Pingback: eternal pajama party + dating sucks « underground

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