I came across this video on Facebook via the Canadian Mental Health Association. It’s a great statement. I was awed at some of the stats.
“46% (of people polled) believe that mental illness is an excuse for poor behaviour and personal failings”
Wow, does that ever say something. Let’s look at it this way: I have 216 friends on Facebook. According to that statistic 99 of those friends would believe that I, and my kids, use mental illness as an excuse for not conforming or for being “lazy” or for just not being “right”.
As much as that bothers me I believe it’s pretty accurate. Some of the things I’ve been advised to do by well-meaning (I use that term loosely, since I’m almost positive not all of them were well-meaning at all) GUAs (givers of unsolicited advice) have more than proved that stat to me.
“Suck it up, buttercup.”
“Put on your big girl panties and get over it.”
“Just don’t think about it and you’ll be fine.”
“It can’t be that bad. I mean, there are people a lot worse off than you.”
“You just need to get in control of your thoughts is all. It’s not hard.”
Well, thank you, Mr. Compassion and Ms. Empathy. If it were that easy, don’t you think we would have done that already?
I know for a fact my kids don’t enjoy feeling ostracized by their peers. I know they don’t get a kick out of having a racing mind and an inability to focus. I know they don’t like how often they get in trouble for not being able to focus or pay attention. I know they’re self-conscious about how they don’t “fit in”. I know this because they tell me.
I know this because I feel all the same things – inadequate, useless, undervalued, unappreciated, unaccepted, unwanted.
Everyday we have to battle our brains so we can function. Everyday we have to battle those feelings so we can deal with other people. Some days we come out on top. Some days we come out ok (thank God, the kids have been coming home feeling pretty successful lately). Other days we feel like complete failures (I know, I’ve been having a lot of those days lately).
Next time you’re talking with someone who is feeling a little down, or is suffering from something pretty intense, remember to use words that actually encourage, rather than words than sound encouraging but are actually demoralizing. It could make all the difference in the world for that person. I know it.