Anxiety and depression can really affect our day-to-day lives, and all but guarantees that we will not behave the same way as people who have neither. This disconnect between our experiences with anxiety and/or depression, and those who can only imagine our experiences can sometimes lead to conflict or misunderstandings.
Anxiety and depression can cause us to feel vulnerable, and like it or not, there are people out there in the world who see an opportunity when encountering someone vulnerable. While we shouldn’t think the worst of strangers, we should definitely prepare to identify red flag behaviour so that we can protect ourselves.
These phrases were used a lot in my youth by teachers, complete strangers, and sometimes family members, as they attempted to make me fit into a mould I just wasn’t built for. With a better understanding of mental health these days, we can hope that fewer people will approach us with these damaging statements. One way or the other, if anyone speaks these phrases to us, especially in the context of our mental health, we should feel no shame in turning our backs on them and walking away:
Why can’t you be more like…?
Having someone compare you with someone else who has a trait/behaviour that they wish you had is a smack in the face, every time. Mental health disorders are beyond the control of the sufferer and learning that someone you know or care about wishes you were different is a painful cherry on top of an already difficult cake.
Anxiety and depression struggles are hard enough without people verbalising that our mental health issues are somehow inconveniencing them. These people are a detriment to coping and recovery, and we shouldn’t feel at all bad about leaving them in our past. If we must feel guilty about something, let it be that we didn’t walk away from them sooner to protect ourselves.
You aren’t trying hard enough
When we exert maximum effort to go about what is for everyone else a normal day, one of the worst things we can hear is that these efforts aren’t enough. In my experience when people say this, it’s because they believe we haven’t achieved the correct level of “normal” to satisfy them.
Upon hearing these words, it’s time to completely disregard the expectations of the person saying it. We do not exist to meet the expectations of anyone who has no empathy for our struggles, and in truth, if they utter these words, it is they who are not trying hard enough.
This person has anxiety/depression and they’re not like this
We are all different and as such, we all react to experiences differently. Expecting everyone who has anxiety and depression to act exactly the same is akin to expecting everyone with red hair to behave the same. Yes, they share something in common, but that one element doesn’t define them as a person, and even if it does influence behaviour, it isn’t the sole component.
In this scenario, the speaker has given greater validity to someone else’s experience over our own, again indicating a lack of empathy. Especially when it comes to mental health and trauma, all experiences are equally valid. Someone who wishes to prioritise someone else’s experience for whatever reason, whether it’s convenience or something else, needs to take a good look at themselves, and either shape up or shift out.
Thanks for reading! Did you know I also write urban fantasy books? Check them out here!