Stop Saying You’re Fine: 6 Worst Advice about Mental Health
Why are we the generation that has the most issues with our mental health? Is it the because of the way we live? Are we overly sensitive? Has it become more acceptable to ‘come out’ with a mental health issue? Or do psychiatrists simply see something wrong in everyone?
I think it’s a little of everything.
Today you can go to a psychiatrist and he’ll diagnose you with some sort of mental disorder in the first half hour he listens to you, the least he’ll do – he’ll tell you you’re stressed (at least in Slovenia). And then he’ll give you some prescriptive medication and send you home.
I honestly hate the way our generation deals with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and other health issues. We buy books in bulk to tell us how to feel, how to act, and how to look to be happy.
Stop being so negative. Only think positive thoughts. Pretend and it will become a reality.
All good and fine advice, but sadly, it doesn’t work every time.
Self-proclaimed new-age gurus for happiness see any negative though and negative feeling as a disease. And that is simply not true.
Sometimes we need to let ourselves feel the negative, wallow in our sorrow and misery, even if just for a couple of minutes or perhaps a bit longer. Because sadness, anger, frustration…those are all genuine feelings that deserve to be felt and not to be repressed.
Obviously you shouldn’t drown yourself in your negativity, but you shouldn’t try to erase it either.
The things that haunt us the most have, well, a habit of haunting us even in our dreams.
For example, I dated this guy who treated me horribly. I, of course didn’t see it at the time (even though all of my friends did) because when you’re in love your frontal cortex stops working (the part of the brain responsible for good decision making), and because of a bunch other biological and psychological factors. I pretended I was fine with the way he treated me and kept a smile on my face. And now when I look back – this was the time when I had a nightmare almost every night.
The things and feelings I repressed came out in my subconscious. That is because I refused to feel them and I refused to speak about them out loud, even if only to myself.
So here is some of the shittiest advice I got about mental health and feelings in general.
1. SMILE MORE.
I can’t emphasize enough what a horrible advice this is. It’s fine when it’s something trivial, like – you hate the way your hair looks today or the store ran out of your favorite juice. But when you’re truly upset or hurt because of a situation in your life or a person – this is the worst thing to do. Last year, I’ve been listening to this advice for a couple of months. I have emotionally never felt as bad as I did then because of this advice. I felt fake. And I came to a point when all I felt were the tears in the back of my eyes every time my lips stretched into a smile. So the next time a person tells you to smile more; tell them to go fuck themselves.
2. IT WILL GET BETTER.
This is honestly the most cheap-shit advice anyone can ever give you. Because it’s not even an advice! It’s basically small talk. It’s the thing people say when they don’t want to deal with you or don’t feel like listening to you. All good, I sometimes don’t feel like listening to other people’s crap, but I’ve really made an effort for the last few years to offer solid advice. I never say those words because they’re simply nothing – they’re not empathy, nor they are an advice. The next time you’re consoling a friend try using these words instead; I’M HERE FOR YOU. I realize perfectly these words are not exactly empathy or advice either, yet there is a significant difference between a friend who brushes you off with ‘It will get better’ and a friend who says ‘I’m here for you’.
3. A PERSON WHO CONSTANTLY TRIES TO ‘TOP’ YOUR STORY
I know this isn’t exactly an advice, yet still; this is a person who listens to your story and then tries to trump it with their own. Mind you – this person’s story is usually not remotely as bad as yours, not to mention that by doing that they completely disregard the way you feel, or the emotional state you are in. As their issues are valid, no matter how big or small, sometimes you simply can’t handle dealing with other people’s crap on top of your own.
4. EXPECT BOTH POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE OUTCOME AND YOU’LL NEVER BE MISERABLE.
First of all, I think ‘surprised’ fits in better. And second of all, your feelings and expectations are not a goddamn light switch you can balance between on and off. You’re either expecting one or the other, sometimes both, but one always prevails. Some people intentionally expect the worst in order not to be hurt, but, does it work? It definitely softens the blow, but with that kind of attitude you’re – miserable less intensely for a longer period of time, on the other hand, if you’d allow yourself to be surprised – you’d be miserable quite intensely but for a shorter period of time. It’s like when you step into the cold sea; you’re either the person who walks in slowly and gradually, or you’re the person who jumps in.
5. IT’S A SUNNY DAY, YOU CAN’T BE IN A BAD MOOD!
I love the person who said this to me, but bitch, emotions don’t do weather forecast! It’s not like your feelings and current mood says – ‘Oh it’s sunny today, look at all that depression just floating away’. No, you don’t have the right to expect from me to be in a good mood simply because it’s a beautiful day, and besides, you don’t expect me to be in a foul mood when there’s a storm.
6. I’M FINE.
Okay, this one isn’t exactly an advice, either. Well, you could say it’s the worst advice I’ve given myself (sometimes we’re our own shitty friend). Sometimes I say I’m fine because I’m actually fine. If I don’t feel like talking to that person I stop there, if not I tell them why I’m feeling fine. But sometimes I say I’m fine not because I am, but because I don’t want others to feel uncomfortable. I don’t want to be that ‘emo’, negative friend that is always down (especially if I’m feeling rather negative for a few weeks), and I have this deep, secret fear they won’t want to hang out with me (wow, so high school of me). This probably comes from some unresolved issues (I have a feeling some people ‘disowned’ me from their lives for my ‘pessimistic’ attitude). I’m afraid of being called negative or pessimistic, which I admit on occasion I am (or perhaps I’m just being sarcastic, or have a spontaneous moment of dark humor), but sometimes I simply don’t feel rather ‘chirpy’ – I might be overthinking some things in my life, perhaps a family matter has gotten me down, maybe a friend/boy situation is weighing on my mind…And I simply don’t feel like I’m allowed to feel that. It’s like we’re all expected to be happy 90% of the time. It’s also a social construct, a social curtsy – ‘I’m fine’ is as expected as saying ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’.
When I was a teenager I read a book where it said that some people were like the sun – radiating warmth and sunshine, and other people were like the moon – they couldn’t produce their own light, so they had to borrow it from the others.
I, myself, like to surround myself with people who radiate light. Yes, they get on my nerves sometimes with their always ‘sunny’ attitudes, but I love them for giving me the light when I can’t produce my own.
So, don’t listen to advice you feel is not right for you, or read blogs like: 4 Ways to Pretend to Be Happy, because trust me – fake it ‘till you make it attitude – doesn’t work every time. Sometimes a smile on your face and saying ‘I’m fine’ only worsen the way you feel.
Don’t be afraid of your negative emotions, they are not a disease which needs to be eradicated. Sometimes they’re there to tell you something is wrong. And sometimes you don’t know the reason why. But the most important thing is – not to erase the pain, but to overcome it.
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