For people suffering from mental illness such as anxiety and depression, you should never say these things.
Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand. What many people don’t realize is that people aren’t just anxious because they worry too much. It’s often something they have no control over. It’s often a mental illness that they struggle to deal with constantly. I’ve witnessed the pain, frustration, and sadness that comes from fighting mental illness. It’s a terrible combination, feeling like you’re completely helpless and unable to do anything, while simultaneously worrying about needing to do something. They’re contradicting ideas and they make you want to scream. It’s something that they struggle with. Every. Day. If you know someone who struggles with depression or anxiety, here are five things you should avoid saying to them because they’re tired of hearing them.
It’s not that they want to sit around being inactive all day, it’s that literally doing anything is impossible when you’re paralyzed by the incessant worrying of anxiety and the endless weight of depression. Be encouraging of the things they are able to do and don’t get upset when they don’t share the joy you have for the day.
While you should never force someone to do something they don’t want to do, this advice should be followed tenfold when interacting with the depressed and anxious. You’ll understand after you try, and it results in a panic attack, mental break, overwhelming tears, or a total shut down of the body. If you’re getting frustrated with them, don’t persecute them for a perceived lack of effort. Just walk away.
Ah, of course! Why didn’t I think of that? I should just cheer up. Wrong. Say this to an anxious or depressed person and you’re bound to get punched in the face. Obviously, they would love to cheer up and live a life that is cheery and joyful, instead of the dark, gloomy and sorrowful existence that looms over them. Happiness isn’t a choice they make at the start of their day. It’s a war to be waged every second they’re awake.
Just as ‘cheer up’ incites anger and frustration for the depressed, ‘calm down’ infuriates those who are anxious. Why do people think that saying these things will work as if they came up with some novel idea as to how to deal with mental illness. If you were about to get hit by a car, you would be pissed at someone telling you to calm down, right? That’s pretty much anxiety, except the car is in your head, and it’s always just about to crash straight into you, but never does.
Indeed, you’re literally describing the symptoms and conditions that depressed and anxious people feel all the time. They know that they think irrationally. They know all about their craziness. They know. You pointing out the mental illness that they cannot change or get rid of doesn't help on any level.