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The 4 Worst Reactions
to My Mental Illness

I used to only disclose my mental illness to a few people because I was worried about the reactions I would get. I had already received negative responses when I had to stop working. But not talking about my mental illness limited my ability to converse. It was hard to think of things to talk about. I was afraid my secret would get out, so I’ve slowly been opening up. And although being open about my mental illness makes me feel free, it comes with a cost.

Here are some of the worst things people have told me after I’ve opened up about my mental illness:

1. “I want the old you back.”

First off, I know I’ve lost a lot because of my illness. Jobs, friends, income, time. I feel that loss. I want those things back, too. But, I’m realistic enough to know time has moved on and I have to deal with where I am now. But, more importantly, I’m right here. I may act strange sometimes or think unusual thoughts, but I’m still the person I’ve always been. Accept me as I am now.

2. “You need to…”

I’ve been given a lot of unsolicited advice. But I’m
actually doing pretty well at the moment and don’t need suggestions. But, even when I was more symptomatic, I didn’t need people to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do.

3. “You’re too emotional.”  I’m not sure what that means. I have a mood disorder and changing moods come with the territory. When you point out I’m “too emotional” or “too sensitive” it’s completely unfair. I can’t help how I feel.

4. “You don’t look like you have a mental illness.”  I don’t know what to say to that. I think it’s meant as some sort of compliment, but it negates all I’ve been through and denies something that I know is real.

All I expect from others is to listen and be understanding. To treat me like a whole person and not something that needs to be fixed. To feel loved and like I matter. That’s all I need.

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