People who suffer from mental illness on Reddit were asked: "What's one thing you'd like people to know about your condition to help them understand it better?" These are some of the best answers.
1/22 That anxiety attacks don't necessarily have physical signs. Just because I'm staying quiet and not breathing into a paper bag doesn't mean I'm not freaking the f*ck out.
Also that when depressed, and unable to shower or even get out of bed, telling me to "just get more exercise" and shouting "endorphins!" at me with a painfully fixed smile on your face isn't helpful.
2/22 People with anxiety really do need to be left alone for a little while. Incessantly badgering them till they snap only makes it worse.
Come on, just give me a little space and I'll be able to take care of your IT problem.
3/22 Telling me that my anxiety triggers are irrational is not helpful.
4/22 OCD doesn't mean we are neat freaks or perfectionists. It presents in all different forms. Your quirky habit != OCD. And our habits (if we have any external compulsions) are usually backed by horrifically intruding thoughts, so it's not something that's done frivolously or can just be "stopped".
5/22 I have disorganized schizophrenia. I don't often hallucinate, I don't get delusions, I don't get paranoid.
I know I dress weird and am not very good at talking and I don't really get how to fix my hair. Sometimes I need help getting across what I'm talking about and I know it's weird, but I could be a pretty cool friend if you just got over it like I've had to.
6/22 Don't need anything to be depressed about when you have depression.
I appreciate people trying to help because they want me to feel better, but fixing my life's practical problems isn't addressing the mental illness that's making me feel like that.
7/22 If you touch me without asking, I will flinch, maybe even scream a little. I will tell you I have a 'thing' about touching. You don't need to apologize, but please do not test it. PTSD is not a game. It is not funny. I know it may be funny to you because I will always, always react, and that kind of guaranteed entertainment is hard to come by. But it launches me into the most horrific scene of my life so far, and I can't escape from it by myself. It will take me hours, maybe even days, to recover from something like, "Oh, you don't like to be touched??! -tickletickletickle-" And I may never trust you again.
Please do not take advantage of me because I react physically to something that is meaningless to you. It is hellish for me.
8/22 As someone who has struggled with social anxiety and depression for several years, I can say that I really wish people were more understanding about how much it truly limits you. I can't stand it when someone says something like "Why don't you just FORCE yourself to go out and do that?" or "Depression is all in your head, just push past it" or "Depression is just what emos call their laziness" (All real quotes by the way.)
Also, a person I knew, (who knew I had lost friends to suicide) made the statement "Suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do and I hope that all people who kill themselves go to hell". So maybe, I wish people could empathize more, and maybe keep their opinions to themselves if they can't handle that.
9/22 Bipolar disorder is not generally rapid mood swings. In one day I won't go through every emotion on the spectrum. I'll be hypomanic for a few days, or depressed for a few weeks, generally not in the same day.
Mania tends to sound fun, but I'd almost rather be depressed than manic. I've only ever hurt myself while depressed; I've majorly f*cked over other people when manic. Cheating, spending other people's money, having callous or no regard for others' feelings... It's gotten me in trouble and screwed over relationships.
10/22 Body Dysmorphia - when I say I'm fat, I'm not looking for compliments. I am merely expressing myself and venting about how I feel. Tell me I'm skinny and beautiful over and over again, and it won't matter. It will probably just make me feel more self-conscious. What you see is not what I see, and a lot of times looking in the mirror or seeing a picture of myself is enough to ruin my whole day.
Most of the time, it's not even about what I see, it's how I feel. Feeling the fat on my body, even if it's a healthy amount, and the bloated feeling that comes with it, is enough to make me wish I hadn't eaten today. A hug or silent sympathy is nice if you feel like you need to do something or want to help.
11/22 "Oh, you take medication? My cousin's hairdresser's dog's friend cured her problems with vitamins and sunshine and you don't NEED those pills."
Yes, I do need these pills. I suffer from severe withdrawal if I don't take my medication and the medication helps me to function.
12/22 Please talk to me. Unless we've known each other for ages I wouldn't dare to approach you first.
13/22 People with Tourette's don't just go around saying "Sh*tcock motherf*cker" all the time, and using the illness for cheap comedy is incredibly demeaning, and stops it from being taken seriously by society. If you suffer from it, it's not funny, it's crippling.
14/22 People who don't understand psychiatric medication bug me because they don't know what it's like to be "chemically unable to be happy."
People with heart disease can do a lot to manage their conditions with diet, exercise, and avoiding strenuous activity. However, the only way for them to be truly safe is to include the required medication. With some psychiatric conditions, the same is true: Diet, exercise, self-esteem stuff, avoiding stress... That can all help but the only way for some people to really be safe and live more normal lives is with medication.
15/22 I can't just "stop it". And no, it's not because I have a "weak mind".
16/22 I wish people would understand anorexia more. I wish I never even knew of such a thing but it developed over time and I just want to throw it away so bad. I wish that no one ever has to experience it. Some people say you do it to become skinny, not at all. I just stopped eating hoping one day I wouldn't wake up because I starved to death or that my heart failed because I hated life. I also want people to understand that I don't do it for attention.
17/22 "What are you talking about, ADHD isn't real."
As if I can pretend to pay attention like everyone else. And then look, an idea. Better expand on that idea and then an idea springs out of that idea and so on and so on...
It's like trying to untangle a ball of wires, but you can never get one wire out.
18/22 I suffer from depersonalization. This does not happen to me all the time, but some days are worse than others. What I want people to realize from this is that it is not cool like in fight club when it gets bad for me. In fact, when it happens, I don't even realize it is happening until later. I don't have a cool Tyler Durden who I stare at during episodes.
Sometimes, all it is is that everything feels super hazy (well, this happens to me for about 90% of the time I am awake). That feeling when you first wake up, that super hazy feeling, I pretty much feel that constantly minus the tired portion.
How did this happen? I was going through sleep deprivation and formed a caffeine addiction. I have never been the same since I kind of f*cked myself up from it. I quit caffeine over 3 years ago and the depersonalization has not gone away. Basically, I tell people I suffer from this and then explain it, and they think I am constantly following around some Tyler Durden. No, I am not. There are just times where, similar to a dream, events are unfolding and I feel as though I have no control and everything is happening like a movie. So I will just let the movie go and watch the show. I have no idea it is happening when it does and then when I look back at it hours, maybe minutes, maybe even seconds later, I realize that it happened. Sometimes I can catch myself when it is happening.
Yes, the lines between fantasy and reality are slightly blurred for me. That does not mean I hallucinate or anything, but it makes the world really f*cking scary sometimes. Sometimes things happen and I don't believe they are happening, or I will not express emotion for something at all because, in my head, it is not real. Then later on I find out it is real. Some stuff I have dealt with has helped bring me back to reality as well though, like the death of my father a few months ago. That was real and I knew in my heart and mind it was real. I just wish it wasn't.
19/22 Just because I hear voices doesn't make me a violent person.
20/22 I can't just stop my anxiety about something by doing that thing. The words "see, that wasn't so bad, was it?" do not help.
21/22 Stop asking me what's wrong. I'm depressed and I am trying very hard to play along with being social because I know you like it and I'd hate myself even more if I hurt you. But constantly reminding me that my performance is not good enough because I "look sad" is not helping. You know I'm depressed, just treat me like you would if I wasn't.
22/22 Autism does not mean I'm stupid. Its not my fault that I cant be a "normal social person." I can't start a conversation it is not that I don't want to. When I don't make eye contact it's either I don't notice I'm doing it or I scared to. It's not that I don't sympathize because I can not. I just don't know how without sounding heartless or like I'm not listening. Honestly I talk to myself because some of you are so predictable at least if I argue with myself it will be somewhat interesting. All of these things don't mean I'm depressed. I'm upset because none of you can understand this and still look at me like a normal person.