The Most Pandering Things People Say About Mental Health

This bird needn’t chirp. His eyes say it all: STFU. Pretty please.

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An image of a bird who looks angry
Ekamelev Adpsgy/Unsplsah

We like a little crowd-sourcing as much as the next parrot. Particularly about mental health misconceptions, because people say triggering things all the time. We asked you on Instagram (follow us!) for the most pandering comments you’ve heard about your mental health. We categorized them into a few doozy themes, then added our own Mental Notes in support.

The Cliché

You Said: “My brother-in-law flippantly telling me to calm down in the midst of a bad panic attack on my wedding.”
Mental Note: The “calm down” response really is the worst.

Just Smile

You Said: “I hope you know you are bigger than this.”
Mental Note: Sometimes even well-intentioned comments feel condescending.

You Said: “You’re on a good track now, just keep moving forward and don’t take any steps back.”
Mental Note: Unrealistic and unfair.

Insult as Pep Talk

You Said: “If you were happier and more upbeat, people would like you more.” —my mom
Mental Note: Your mom needs to educate herself on mental health! (Was that too harsh?) A strong support group can make such a difference.

You Said: “Your OCD probably makes you really good at your job. Detailed.”
Mental Note: Or maybe you’re just detailed? An attempt to find a silver lining, but let’s just not go there. 

We All Have Issues

You Said: “After talking about my unrelenting panic attacks… ‘I get anxiety too sometimes.'”
Mental Note: It’s likely an attempt to connect, but it shows a lack of understanding of your issues. People are always saying to me, “oh yeah, I’m so OCD.” By which they usually mean they want things neat and orderly. Which is not OCD. That’s just being obsessive about neatness.  (Which makes me think of the terrifying guy in Sleeping With the Enemy who straightened the towels. Sorry! Can’t help it!)

You Said: “‘I get sad too. Like, when my hair does this thing at the back.’ Uh, no, love.”
Mental Note: How. Bizarre.

Channeling Tom Cruise

You Said: “They don’t believe in depression.”
Mental Note: Wow. Jerks or simply uninformed? Please know you have a community here who believes.

But You Seem So Normal

You Said: “You seem fine.”
Mental Note: There is so much confusion about what mental health issues “look” like. Seem does not = reality.

How Dare You

You Said: “You know, you’re wasting a lot of your life being unhappy. You need a serious attitude shift.”
Mental Note:
If only it were that simplistic. Really, people? 

You Said: “What’s wrong with you? You have education, a home, food, water… Appreciate that!”
Mental Note: People need to get the message that this isn’t a choice.

You Said: “You want to do therapy? You’re selfish.” —parents
Mental Note: Noooooo!! Check out the nonprofit Open Path Psychotherapy Collective; they provide sliding-scale therapy options, between $30 and $60 a session.

From A-OK to “not,” Mental readers also have lots of feels about the classic mental health meme ‘It’s okay to be okay.’ Here are your thoughts.

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