Dumb things are said all the time about diabetes, based on the myths behind the condition and its two major types as well as the misperceptions of others. I know that; it has been written about plenty around the diabetes online community.
When the latest Chronic Babe carnival topic was introduced (“the dumbest thing someone has ever said to you about your chronic illness and your witty response”), I knew I wanted to go in a different direction than diabetes.
Because, believe it or not, people say dumb things about mental health conditions, too.
The one I hear or read most often, and the one to which I am constantly crafting new witty responses, is “oh come on, nothing is THAT bad, just get over it” in regards to both anxiety and depression.
I always want to throw out a “I will get over my depression if you get over your rudeness” or “You are right, your haircut is worse than my worst panic attack”. That gets me nowhere. Instead, I take the opportunity to calmly educate about what it’s like to live inside my head. Witty, perhaps not; real, yes.
The thing is, unless you experience anxiety or depression for yourself, you really have no idea what it’s like. You do not know what it feels like to think you’re going to die in the midst of a panic attack; you do not know what it feels like to miss out on things you normally enjoy because you are either in a heightened state of anxiety or in the throes of a deep depressive episode; you do not know what it feels like to feel entirely hopeless lying in bed crying for hours or days at a time; you do not know what it is like to try to overcome anxiety and depression in the workplace, at school, at home, in life.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of anxiety or depression, I am happy for you because it sucks. I wouldn’t wish anxiety (acute in the form of panic attacks, chronic in the form of generalized anxiety disorder) or major depressive episodes on anyone. But, at the same time, please do not tell me what I just do not want to hear – ”just get over it” – because I wish like hell I could.
The more you take the time to educate, the more people will begin to understand. BUT, sometimes, it just isn’t worth the effort as we all know people who don’t care to listen or learn.
Your quiet way of writing about your issues with depression/anxiety have certainly helped me to be more understanding with family members and especially at work.