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How to Get People to Take Your Mental Illness Seriously

Posted by Erin Fischer on

You’re just doing this for attention. You need to pray it away. My cousin’s boyfriend’s sister had depression and she drank green juice and meditated, and it went away. It’s not a real illness it’s all in your head. You have nothing to be depressed about. Isn’t anxiety just stress? Just exercise more.

If you have a mental illness, the chances are that you will have gotten similar comments when you confide in people about it. So how do you get people to understand your mental illness and take it seriously? 

For starters talk to them in person or via video chat or a phone call, just don’t do it over text or email as it will only end in frustration for both you and them.

Sit them down and explain your mental illness in basic terms, I really like using the example of diabetes. Just like how with diabetes the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, in people with a mental illness the brain doesn't make enough serotonin (the lack of causes the mental illness). So just like a diabetic needs insulin and takes an artificial source, people with a mental illness may take antidepressants to provide them with an artificial source of serotonin (there’s more to it but keep it simple). Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there, you can't see diabetes or mental illness but they're both real and they both exist. So just like you wouldn’t tell someone with diabetes to just get over it so the same should be applied with a mental illness.

Try to be honest with them, explain to them as much (or as little) as you want about your mental illness and why it’s important that they understand. Tell them how it impacts you and give examples - mental illnesses can manifest in physical symptoms from tremors to stomach aches to no appetite to obsessive behaviours.

If they still don’t understand take a break from it, pick your battles, and let them process it. Maybe you could share with them some articles about mental illness and let them read them in their own time or watch a TV show where mental illness is shown? For a lot of people unless themselves or someone close to them has gone through a mental illness they won’t fully understand and it’s going to take a while, but (hopefully!) they will eventually understand.

Feel free to drop by, just say, Hey Barty in strict confidence and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or, do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments below any time.


About Erin Fischer

Am the qualified mental health professional at Barty Single Origin. Write topical pieces with a focus on mental health. Always available on chat, Passionate about reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and letting people know it's A-OK to be not OK.


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