Since Oct. 3 is the beginning of mental health awareness week, I think we should start a conversation of what not to say when it comes to helping someone who is struggling with mental illnesses. The most important thing we need to stop doing is telling people that everything is going to be OK.
When I was in high school, I struggled a lot with mental illnesses. Every day was a battle for me to even get out of bed. During some of my lowest points in life, as an attempt to help encourage me, my friends and family would always remind me that everything is going to be OK. While their attempt to bring me encouragement was a nice gesture, I always hated hearing that, and I’m sure other people who struggle with mental illness would agree.
To me, that statement has a negative connotation. It’s almost as if the people who are telling me that are trying to say that my illness will go away once I get over whatever triggered it in the first place. The truth is, when you have a mental illness, you are on a constant rollercoaster of good and bad days. When someone who is struggling hears that everything is going to be OK, they are given false hope, and they think the bad days will eventually stop when that is just not the case.
Another reason why I have never been a fan of that phrase is because I feel like it’s telling people they should feel embarrassed they are struggling. Struggling is a part of the process. It’s terrible and it sucks, but I wouldn’t be who I am today without all the struggles I’ve been through. The struggles you overcome in your life, in the end, are what make you, you.
Don’t be ashamed of any part of the process you are in. We should stop telling people that everything is going to be OK. Instead, we should give people the reminder that it is OK to not be OK.