Mental illnesses affect millions of people and manifest in ways that are unique to the individual. But in all cases, it is not a choice, nor can it just be willed away. The stigma persists, especially for people with PTSD or ADHD, which are often chastized as fake disorders.
Cjborange asked Redditors with mental illnesses: What do you wish people knew about mental illness?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
10. Please stop doing this.
That depression isn't just being sad, and that you can't fix anxiety by not thinking like that.
The way I like to put it is like this. Think about depression like you would think about cancer. It can happen to anyone. Which is why you could see someone with a great life and that person could still depressed. Because just like cancer the disease doesn't care who you are, it will come for you just the same.
Not only is the anxiety advice terrible advice, it doesn't even work if you do manage to do it.
See I spent decades thinking I didn't have anxiety issues because I could "just not think like that" - by being focused on thinking about other things and pushing that anxiety to the back of my mind.
Sure I wasn't actively thinking about it but it still sat there in the back of my head eating at me and twisting my stomach up in knots and upping my stress levels etc. I had all the symptoms of anxiety, just didn't recognize it as such. I'd learned to turn away from the anxious thoughts, but that's not the same as turning them OFF. And fixing it isn't turning them off, but turning them AROUND.
Learning to confront that anxiety face to face, and actually handle the things I'm anxious about instead of doing everything I can to avoid them, and taking medication that helps ease that process, has made me much less ACTUALLY anxious. It's still very much a problem and probably will be for a long time yet, but it's one I'm learning to manage, one day at a time.
9. *Folds arms, blinks* ah that's better.
You can't just "snap out of it."
"It's all in your head!!" Uh, YEAH. That's the point.
It's called a "mental illness," where else should it be if not "all in my head?" Up my @ss, I guess?
Next time my @sshole dad b!tches about my mental health, I'll be sure to tell him that he should stop b!tching about his alcoholism-induced symptoms because "it's all in his liver."
Actually, with things like depression and other illnesses caused by neurotransmitter imbalances, the effects are felt throughout the body, not just in the head. That's why Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be a symptom of depression.
8. Actually, we have superpowers.
Mental illness isn't like TV. Most people with a mental illness aren't babbling nonsense or talking to themselves, or psycho killers, or having conversations with their multiple personalities. By and large, mental illness is invisible to the every day public. Chances are, you are friends with someone who has a mental illness, and you don't even know.
Yep, we aren't all violent and evil and being portrayed as such is incredibly harmful to us as a community. And you don't have to be mentally ill to do harmful things, shockingly enough. Armchair diagnosing every killer or domestic abuser as mentally ill is massively unhelpful to those of us dealing with mental illnesses, please don't do it.
We also aren't all hopeless romantics, misunderstood artists or "manic pixie dream" people. We aren't one "great romantic love" away from being healed and saved by someone. Mental illness doesn't make you interesting. It isn't a part of your personality. It doesn't give you talent and it doesn't make you brilliant. There is no one big great "aha, I finally feel great now" moment.
You kind of just wish you didn't feel that way everyday and you realize it makes you self-destruct and torture yourself and others around you but you're resigned to not doing anything about it.
7. Mental illness is frustrating af.
That we're aware of how we act, are annoyed/frustrated by the condition as much, if not more, than they are, and that dealing with it secondhand in no way compares to living it so having a little empathy goes a long way
Exactly. I always hear the John Mulaney driving rant, repurposed. "I hear you. I also do not want to be doing what I'm doing. I sure would like to stop."
This right here. You think I'm okay with the fact that I can't make myself do the things I want to do. Don't you think that if I could just shrug off the screaming cacophony, I wouldn't do so without you f*ckin' pointing that out?
"Oh, sh*t, you mean I can just turn that sh*t off... Well, why didn't I think of that, golly mister, you sure are smart!"
Who DOESN'T want to go through a cycle of lashing out -> apologizing -> lashing out -> repeat? It's just so goddamn fun and a great way to form and maintain long lasting friendships
6. It's a lot of work to appear "normal."
We try like hell to hide it. Just because we slipped and you saw the truth does NOT mean its a new aspect of our existence.
I find that any new person I meet I tell almost immediately so they get it (for me). I kinda just flash it to them and like "yo it's a me, ADD!" and they're like "ah nice ok". I mean, it is part of me, so I figured (my personal preference) I'd get it out of the way. F*cks up my life in a number of ways, but I try to be open about stuff to people firsthand.
5. Chronic physical illness and pain, like I had with colitis, led to my PTSD.
PTSD isn't always from war.
On the internet it's way more likely that people assume it's from abuse.
Mine isn't from either one. I never get sent to resources for veterans. I have been sent to resources for abuse plenty of times even when I clarified before what it's from.
People, don't assume anything.
And on a sidenote, if we open up about it, we might not be ready to tell you what it's from. What, am I supposed to tell to a near-stranger about my trauma? nah dude.
Edit: I have shared my trauma with strangers online, but that's way less emotionally taxing than talking in person. Just felt like I needed to clarify so I don't seem like a hypocrite.
Adding onto that, trauma's not a competition.
4. Mental illnesses often have physical manifestations.
Some mental illnesses can have physical symptoms. Migraines, stomach issues, fainting, and these are just a few. So no, it's not "all in my head."
"All in your head" God, that phrase pisses me off. Our brain is literally who we are. Everything else is just systems to keep it alive. "In our head" is the most important part of the human body. It's like saying "Oh, can't walk? Pshh. Quit being so dramatic. It's all in your legs."
Word. People think of brains as some mystical black box where who-knows-what happens and thoughts come out. It's literally a machine made of moving parts. Like any other complex machine, it has specialized parts that carry out specific tasks.
If your friend's car breaks down would just say "ah suck it up and drive, it's all in your engine!"
3. It's a symptom of a bigger problem - our culture.
ADHD is like the diabetes of mental illness. It can be managed with discipline and/or meds. But it can also wreck your life.
It's hard, even with medication I struggle with it. Work piles up and sometimes I can handle it and sometimes it's just too much and my brain checks out.
One thing that many people with ADHD have is rejection sensitivity disphoria and it's not commonly known, but along with all of the problems ADHD can cause the person suffering from Rejection Sensitivity Disphoria may be feeling alone and always wondering what they've done wrong to people, so even just randomly texting good morning can make someone's day and make then more motivated to do what they have to do which will in turn improve somebody's life
2. No one chooses it.
That mental illnesses actually exist, and I'm not just making this sh*t up. It's amazing how many people who have never personally had to deal with, or don't know any people who have dealt with mental illness that just believe any mental illness can be summed up to not "sucking it up". They don't realize how badly I wish I could. How much I wish I could wake up in the morning and just be ok. How much I don't want to have negative and anxious thoughts.
They have no clue how hard it is to wake up some days when literally all I want to do is stay in bed and sleep. They were not there when I sat up all night seriously thinking about ending my life just so I don't have to deal with this anymore. I also wish they'd know how grateful they should feel for never having to put up with something that constantly consumes their thoughts and effects their actions daily. "Sucking it up" isn't always an option, learning to understand and support people who suffer from mental illness is. It's truly not hard to have just a little empathy.
1. Trying to maintain control is a daily struggle.
How hard it is to not spiral into an awful black pit when the depression kicks in. I failed at holding off a negative mood swing while I was at work the other day and went from gregarious and laughing to feeling like I should probably kill myself within a matter of minutes. The tiniest little thing can set it off, too. Finally decided to get professional help after the insistent urging of a close friend, so that's nice.
Same, I was at a family thing and went from having a great time, laughing, talking and stuff, to an hour later sitting alone and catching my self as I desperately looked around for a sharp object to kill myself bc someone got offended I accidentally talked over them. I know I need help but I just can't...
What would you like people to know about something you are struggling with?