The other day, I was having a conversation with my friend about our mental illness, sharing our struggles and experiences that we both relate to very well. At the end of the conversation, we came to the conclusion that what hurts the most is that no one around us understands what we really go through every day, no one gets “our new normal”. They expect us to snap out of it quickly as if we can. Or maybe go take a walk in nature or pop some pills and all is good. This only doubles the pain and makes our healing process especially harder. And then she dropped something really important “I don’t blame them, they’ll never get it because they haven’t been through what I have been through”.
Would it Really Help?
This got me thinking and imagining and daydreaming for hours. After having a brilliant conversation with my ADHD brain, I came out with an answer to my own question.
I asked my brain: can I really blame those around me for not understanding what I go through? Would it be fair to them? And this is how my brain responded.
If you were in some remote parallel universe and got to choose to make people understand exactly what you go through by exposing them to all that’s in your head and heart in real-time would you do it?
I answered no! God forbid… because there will be so much pain inflicted upon them and I don’t wish for that to happen. However, I would still want their compassion and their “Understanding” and yes there is a big difference. I don’t want my loved ones to fully understand my experiences but rather be understanding about it, and they can do this simply by refraining from these actions.
1. Don’t Judge
Judgment is the root of all evil. Don’t judge me because no one is entitled to and because I didn’t bring this upon myself and I didn’t cause my mental illness. It’s just life and it happens to everybody!
2. Don’t Deny Mental illness
No, I am not imagining my mental illness, it’s there, the scars are there, they’re just on my heart and brain and you can’t see them so don’t you dare deny them! Instead, open up your heart and listen to what it looks like inside my mind. Take the time and acknowledge my pain and suffering and my strength.
3. Don’t Rush My Healing
Healing is a journey and my pain is not going to go away just because you love me or if I go take a walk or if I pretend I am fine so you just stop nagging.
The only reason you want to rush my healing is that you are afraid of what’s happening to me. People are afraid of what they don’t understand. So instead, take the chance and start reading and learning about a very natural side of human nature.
4. Don’t Feel Guilty About My Struggles
You don’t have to feel guilty because you may not be the reason for my mental illness and you can’t lift it away from me because you simply want to. Remember you can always help others but you can only save yourself. Instead, be vocal and honest about how you feel and I promise to try and do the same.
Every time you find it hard or overwhelming to support your loved ones that are hurting and struggling mentally, think of it as a train trip they are going on. You will walk them to the platform and say a temporary goodbye with a smile and wait for them till the train comes back and they are once again on the same platform, with no judgment on whatever they did on that train. It’s as simple as that.
Check out Omneya Hossam’s blog for more insightful content.