I was going to make the subject of this post, ‘Things you should never say to someone with depression’. But, thinking about it, you should never say these things to anyone. You never know what someone is going through or how someone feels and the last thing you want is to say something, even if you say it with the best intentions, that will make that person worse. I have created a list of some popular phrases or sayings that you should never say to anyone, especially if you are aware this person is suffering with a mental health problem. Some of these have been said to me before and they effected me very badly.
Pull yourself together/Snap out of it
This is one of the worst things you could say to someone. They cannot help the way they feel or react. I can guarantee they would love nothing more than to ‘pull themselves together’ or to ‘snap out of it’ but it is physically impossible for them to do this in the moment. This is also a pretty rude thing to say to anyone.
They can’t. You may be trying to help here but in fact you will make it worse. When someone is feeling pretty low and you tell them to smile they will start thinking about why they don’t smile, why they never feel like smiling, why aren’t they normal like every other smiling person. This thought process will make them feel bad about themselves and give them even less reasons to smile.
What have you got to be sad about?
Someone might have everything in the world that they could ever wish for but still suffer from a mental health problem. Depression can effect anyone regardless of their circumstances. For example, I have recently been offered my dream, to live and study in America for a year but, for some unexplained reason I am still suffering and have felt pretty sad by this. Many celebrities and seemingly perfect people have also suffered, for example Robin Williams. On the face of it he seemed to have the perfect life but unfortunately his depression led to his suicide. By saying this you will make them feel guilty and even worse, you never know what someone is going through.
It’s all about you
Depression is a selfish disease, the person suffering is not in any way selfish. Quite often, when one person is doing something to help themselves get better by, for example, having therapy or talking to someone about their feelings, it may seem like that person is only talking about themselves. But they have to to try and get themselves through it. Just remember, when someone is talking about their problems they are doing the selfless thing to try and get themselves out of their problem so they can be happy.
Stop wearing black
This one is probably more personal. I have worn black for the good part of 10 years, it is just my style and a colour I am comfortable in. When I developed depression I was told to stop wearing black. I thought about this and thought why should I stop? By starting to wear a different colour I am changing myself and letting the depression change me as a person. I don’t want to let it win. I need to hold onto anything left of the old me to get back to that. The clothing people wear doesn’t effect anything and you should never tell anyone what to wear, regardless of the situation.
You’ll be fine
Hopefully that person will one day be fine but this seems impossible for them at that time. Saying this to them may feel as if you are dismissing their problem which will make that person feel pretty sad. Obviously try to convey that things will get better for them but try to say it in a way that will help the person and make them feel hopeful for the future.
This person is probably trying to be strong already and if you say this to them they might feel as if they are not trying hard enough or alternatively, it will make them feel pretty weak. Tell them they are strong already.
Move on/Get over it
In my experience I have a difficult time moving on and letting go of any bad thing that has happened to me, I will dwell on it for a while and I can’t help it. Telling someone to move on when they can’t is the worst thing you can do. Instead try to help them move on or get over the problem, give them time and they will get there eventually.
I understand it is hard to know what to say to someone with a mental health problem. You don’t want to overstep the mark or risk saying anything that will make them worse. My main advice with this would be to be careful what you say to people and think before you say it. Think how it could effect them or how it could help them and judge yourself whether it is worth saying to them.