In a previous blog post, we asked our community to share their experiences on what it’s like to have a high-functioning disorder. Simultaneously, we also asked them to offer advice for other people on how to treat these -almost invisible- disorders. Read on to learn more.
1. “[People] need to do the research on their own. We’ve done the work, we’ve lived it, and we’re high functioning. That means we’ve climbed out of a ravine before we could get over the mountain. Having a mental illness is exhausting and complicated. They need to work through their prejudices and ignorance. Mental illness isn’t cute or glamorous, it doesn’t make me a true artist or a fascinating subject for a Lifetime movie. Mental illness is also not a moral weakness. They need to read first person accounts and books.”
2. “[They] need to know that our outward presentation is highly controlled and takes a great deal of effort and that it should not always be taken at face value. Try to keep our mental illness in mind despite a lack of cues and don’t rely on us to remind you that some things are harder for us than for others. Ask how we’re doing and what we need and make sure the relationship isn’t one-sided support. If you care about someone, learn about their mental illness so that you know how best to support them. And most importantly, BELIEVE US when we say we are having a hard time, even if all appearances point to the contrary.”
3. “I think they should understand that we might be going crazy, but that doesn’t change the person we are inside. Learn more about bipolar disorder so they realize what can intensify our emotions. Have the understanding that sometimes we cannot tell you how we feel. We are too numb to speak, all we need is to cry and sit with someone.”
4. “I think everyone I have ever opened up to has responded in the best way they know how. Personally, I have a strong ability to read emotions because I’m overanalyzing mine to keep them in check. I realize that others may not have that same level of emotional awareness, and may not even know the way they are responding could be hurtful. I think it’s not so much something that that particular person should have responded differently with, but more society as a whole should work on improving awareness of others as well as awareness of themselves as individuals. If we took out the “shock factor” that mental illness has, we would get rid of a lot of the awkward, desensitized, rude, or overly sarcastic remarks as an effort to try to seem like they are treating us the same as others, when the reality is, society doesn’t let them.”
What do you think? Do you have any additional advice? Comment below.