Saturday 21 May 2016

Words Hurt

16-22 May is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. May is also Mental Health Month in the US.

As I've said in this week's previous posts, mental health is a very individualistic thing - if any of this doesn't apply to you, then it's OK.

Also, often it's not what's said, it's how it's said. 

Do what works for you, and your situation.

I've noticed that people - well-meaning, lovely, kind, people - have no idea what to say to someone with depression.

In order to fill the void of silence (not knowing that it doesn't always need to be filled,) they stick their foot in their mouth and say things that aren't that helpful.

Don't get me wrong, I know you're trying to help (most of you anyway.) But maybe you could use some help knowing what not to say?

That way we all know each other a little better, and we can stop the misunderstandings, myths, and stigma surrounding mental health.

Here are just a few of my personal (least) favourite things for people to say to me:

  • Cheer up/Smile/Don't look so glum - I hadn't thought of that! Wow, I'm now cured. Not.

  • You must feel better - you're smiling - One smile doesn't make everything bad go away, please don't remind me of that. Please don't make me feel bad for smiling.

  • Come on - Like 'cheer up,' only less specific. I don't want to slap you, but I will. This is not my fault, and you're implying that it is.

  • But you're OK now - Really? This is news to me.

  • Everyone gets bad days/is tired now and then/gets PMS - Imagine a kitten biting you. Now imagine a full-grown, and very hungry, lion biting you. It's kind of the same thing. But lions hurt a lot more.

  • You look fine - I don't feel it.

  • You are a bit pale though - thanks for that. I feel like a million dollars now.

  • This has gone a long time now - Really? Funny, I hadn't noticed. I haven't been living with this every day or anything.

I hope that's given you some idea of what the odd careless phrase can mean - again, I'm not trying to be critical - just to bring things out into the open a little more.

And the more we talk about this, the better it will be. This is how we end the stigma around mental health (and believe me, it's there,) and get to a place where everyone can start to feel better.

Overall though, just keep trying. Keep loving. Keep going.

Like this post? Try these:


  1. I really like how you said this Cee! Sometimes people are trying to help, but they just come off as being ignorant. One thing I hate is if I'm a little anxious, and someone will just straight up say to me, you look frazzled. It just makes me more self conscious and makes me want to hide those emotions even more.

    1. Thank you. And yeah, I know the feeling!

      Unfortunately people get stuck on what they can say to you, and often resort to stating the obvious - which just makes everything worse!

  2. This is really great and very true! I have depression and anxiety and one of my *most hated* comments is, "Taking a bath/coloring/insert normal activity here always helps me when I feel anxious." Like I can just take a bath and get over it! Anxiety isn't the same as feeling anxious and "everyday fixes" aren't going to help me, that's why I take medication! Sorry for the mini rant. As you can see, I have strong feelings on that comment. But this is a great list!

    1. I know! These things can definitely *help* - but they're not magic fixes. They're not going to do it on their own. There aren't any magic fixes, and this seems to be a never-ending source of confusion to some people.

      And strong feelings is perfectly fine - you don't have to apologise, I promise! <3

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. Thank you for this post. I think that there is a definite difference between people who feel down/are sad once in a while and people who have depression or anxiety. Sometimes people tend to get them mixed up, and say wrong things to the wrong people.
    I have a few friends who suffer from depression, but I feel like the best thing to do is talk about something else, or let them start/control the conversation based on what they want.

    Great post!
    Kate @Read and Dream

    1. A very understanding attitude - and one I'm sure your friends appreciate :)

      Thanks for the lovely comment :)

  4. I agree with you - words can hurt. We should all know this because we've probably all experienced this in one way or another. But yes, I can understand how those phrases may be the worst of them all.

    1. I'm sure there are worse things to say to someone - but these are things I hear a lot, and I felt like I needed to bring the conversation out into the open a little more and explain why these things aren't helpful things to say!

      Thanks for the comment :) <3

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  6. Excellent post Cee!! Excellent!

    Yes, telling a depressed person to cheer up is like telling a cat to be a dog. Depression is a condition/illness that is very hard to explain or describe to other people if they have never suffered it.

    That's why I try to read and promote as many mental health books as I can. I've tried so many different ways to explain it to people. My favorite way is "Behind a veil". A poem I wrote long time ago. I'll be posting it soon on my blog :) basically "you can see me smiling but I'm still behind a veil" :)

    1. I'll be very interested to read it! Thanks for the awesome comment :) <3


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