Lists like this are nothing new. I’ve seen them on blogs and mental health websites for years so I never anticipated writing one myself. However, an individual recently made an insensitive comment to me that caught me off guard. Soon after I asked my followers on Twitter to tell me what they hoped to never hear again. The answers I received resonated with me and most of those responses are included below. Here is my list of things you should not say to someone who has bipolar or depression:
I know exactly how you feel
No you don’t. Even if we’re both 5’9”, have blond hair, blue eyes, drive a Prius and diagnosed with bipolar disorder on the exact same day, you can’t possibly know how I feel. I am a unique individual with unique feelings and unique reactions to the world around me. You may sympathize, but you can’t possibly know exactly how I feel
You don’t need to take all those medications
My psychiatrist went through 4 years as an undergraduate student, then 4 years of medical school, then 4 years as a resident psychiatrist, and another 2 years of specialty training. None of that is important, though, I’ll base my actions on your opinions even though they may have serious impacts on my health.
Don’t take “____________” it made me sick
This is similar to the one above, but at least the person believes they are making an educated recommendation. However, they obviously don’t understand that different people react to meds differently.
Everyone feels that way sometimes
No they don’t. Sure, most people go through a period of deep sadness, maybe even a period of depression, but they are usually situational and therefore temporary. A person with chronic depression becomes depressed for no damn reason.
You could feel better if you wanted to
Do you really think I don’t try to feel better? Like, wow, I never thought of that. Unitarian Universalist minister, Peter Morales once said it best about those who are depressed “Events in their lives did not make them depressed. They were not depressed because their lives were hell; their lives were hell because they were depressed.”
When I was younger people didn’t have bipolar
Yes there were plenty who did, but they usually went undiagnosed. Remember the kid who was lazy? He probably had depression. Remember how over-excited your cousin would get? She was probably manic. How about Aunt Lilly who just quietly went away one day? It’s a good possibility she spent some time in a mental health facility. Bipolar disorder (manic depression) is nothing new, we just now have a better understanding of it.
I heard your social security benefits are good if you have a mental problem
Here in the U.S. the social security payments are not even close to being good. They are good enough to keep me right at the poverty level.
You would be fine if you would just “go out”
“Going out” might be fun once I get the energy to get out of bed, take a shower and get dressed and getting out the door. Sometimes each one requires more effort than I possibly have.
You seem like you can go to work to me
That’s because you don’t see me when I’m home in bed with the lights turned off, the blinds closed and refusing to pick up the phone.
You have so many things to be thankful for
Yes I do and thank you for pointing that out, however, that doesn’t stop my depression or mania.
I’ve heard each of the comments or questions above at least once. The one about Social Security is the one which prompted this article. How about you? Any more you can add to the list?