Talk To Me As A Friend, Not A Medical Student

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I’ve been living with mental illness for my entire life.

You would think it gets easier to explain as time goes on, right? Well, not exactly.

The words are usually hard to find when looking for accurate depictions of experiences most people never get to feel.

Let’s think about depression for the moment. You could say it’s an extreme, overwhelming, all consuming sadness…but it’s so much more than that.

It’s paralyzing and it can come on without reason. Usually there isn’t even a legitimate source behind your unhappiness other than the chemical imbalance in your brain. Yet, you still become trapped in your own mind with your negative thoughts circulating and you become unable to properly function throughout the day, week, or even for a month’s time.

For someone who’s never experienced clinical depression, these words leave them with questions and confusion.

I’ve literally heard it all…

“Why are you still in bed, you have a great life.”
“Don’t you take meds for that? Why aren’t they working?”
“Just exercise, it lifts your mood!”
“If you didn’t surround yourself with other mental health people, you wouldn’t get sucked into this crap.”

 

Excuse me while I let out a sigh loud enough for the entire mental health community to hear. UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

 

It’s not their fault! It’s our job to educate the people who still don’t understand mental illness.

And I know, it’s not like you can provide people answers with medical jargon either! Speaking in clinical terms only works for a handful of people, whereas most people just want to be spoken to like a friend as opposed to a medical student.

So, the best advice I have for you when it comes to talking about your experiences with mental illness is to remember this:

Humans are storytellers. People enjoy hearing stories.

 

Remember those awesome books we used to read as children? The ones that would have 6 words to a page and great vivid imagery to help us understand what was going on?

Turn your mental health experiences into THAT!

Take one of your most extreme moments with mental illness (go with the most extreme because it will be easier to recall every emotion, sensation, visual, and auditory aspect) and write it down!

Write down what brought it on, write down the feelings you felt, write down how you overcame that moment, write it all.

Once you finish spilling your heart out on the page - reflect.

Read it as if you’re someone who has no idea what anything means and add enough details to make it comprehensive in the eyes of a child.

You’re going to feel silly when you start to simplify your experience, but it will help you to see what was actually happening, making it SO much easier to explain to other people in the future.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go write!

Enter your information in the fields provided to enroll in my free 4-day mental health advocacy email course, Turning Wisdom Into Words!

Marissa Pane

New York