How to Talk to Your Mentally Ill Friend

 

If you wouldn’t say it to someone with cancer…

If you wouldn’t say it to an amputee…

Don’t say it to someone with mental health challenges.

 

A person who is missing a limb can pray to God for help all day and night long. I’m pretty certain God (insert your Higher Power here, if not God) isn’t going to grow their limb back. We aren’t lizards. Not how it works.

Mental illness challenges are much the same. Not saying they’re the same as having your arms blown off, but you get me.

 

I get told to pray to God and He will take away my sadness.

One – depression and sadness are NOT the same thing.

Two – God gives us challenges on purpose. So we can figure out how to live with them in the way He wants us to. As well as help others who suffer from the same challenges. These things help us grow, challenge ourselves, rise to the occasion. Pretending like being bipolar is something I can just pray away is an insult to God and to myself. He has trusted me to handle this.

Perhaps it will go away. That happens.

Or perhaps it will be more like getting a knee injury. Occasionally, that knee will act up and I’ll have to deal with it.

There is no one way that mental health challenges work. Different person, different life experiences with mental illness.

But none of us can simply get up, decide to no longer have mental illness issues, and *poof* be healthy. Doesn’t work that way.

A cancer patient doesn’t get the diagnosis, decide to stop having it, and *poof* no more cancer. Uh-uh. They have to fight it. Give it everything they’ve got.

Sometimes the disease kills them.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes it goes into remission and comes back, only to go into remission once again.

 

If you aren’t sure how to approach or talk to someone with mental health challenges, consider how you’d talk to a friend who has fibromyalgia or is in the process of going blind.

Mental illness isn’t a choice.

 

 

Yes, making good choices can alleviate it or even get rid of it. But that’s a process. And is true of all illnesses. Get diabetes or cancer, you’re going to have to change what you’re doing, eating, etc. Get panic disorder and you’re going to have to do the same.

We can all make good choices.

That includes aiming for understanding, empathy, kindness, compassion. Instead of telling someone with devastating depression or a mood disorder or any host of other mental illnesses, to simply “knock it off”, “get over it”, “choose to be happy,” “pray and trust God to take it away”, etc.

Perhaps your Higher Power will take it away. Just as He might take away cancer. But that’s not going to happen without the person trying, working for it, making changes, and suffering through a lot of pain that they didn’t choose to have.

 

We can be happy and depressed at the same time. Because happiness is the opposite of sadness. Not depression. Depression is an illness.

You wouldn’t tell someone to just knock it off and quit sneezing when they have a cold, would you?

 

SO IF YOU’RE UNCERTAIN whether or not to say something to someone who struggles with mental health issues (anxiety, depression, personality disorders, dissociative disorders, mood disorders, etc.) a pretty good guideline is:

If you wouldn’t say it to someone with cancer…

If you wouldn’t say it to an amputee…

Don’t say it to someone with mental health challenges.

Advertisements

Hi, My Toe Tag Says Daphne

 

When there is nothing to separate the night from the day

No borders in the ether

No fences about our cells

No boundaries for our skin

 

We are lost

No sun

No moon

Yes

No

They disappear

Only void

Emptiness

 

Everything the same

Words without meaning

Form without shape

 

When we only know the lack of walls

The terror of free falling

We don’t even wonder

Are those lipstick marks or bruises?

 

There is no distinction

Only blind attempts

Empty phrases

Hollow veins

 

We don’t realize

We are all in the morgue

Shuffling about

In dull hospital gowns

Bare feet and teeth unbrushed

Pretending to have a pulse

 

 

by Daphne Shadows

Cinnamon Swirl

 

Sunlight Melts

Like lemon drops

And butterscotch lace

 

 

Kissing

Tick

An icy dam

Tock

 

Dripping down the side

Seeping through the cracks

Spilling over

 

Molten flame

Licking at the

Patchwork parts

 

The cold fights back

Tick

Like a broken flurry of

Plastic wrapped mints

Tock

 

Cutting deep

Frenzied

 

Heated satin

Cauterizes all breaches

Lapping up tiny

Peppermint tears

 

This house

Is a walk-in freezer

Tick

Burning exposed flesh

Tock

 

 

 

By Daphne Shadows

The Hollow Hearted Society

Weakness is masquerading as strength, walking among us with flashy muscles and a hollow heart.

What’s worse, is it rubs our noses in it.

What’s worse,

is some stay silent.

 

 

Weakness has slithered into our

Subconscious and rewired our sight

It has ripped from the corpses

Of its victims

And fashioned a strong looking Giant

It whispers

And we don’t turn away

We listen

We don’t fight back.

Is that why some join in?

For the lack of having to care

Exerting energy, compassion

The possibility of vulnerabilty

is it really

that terrifying

the a person would prefer

to burn another alive

so they never

have to learn what

a paper cut feels like?

 

Those who cry from the loss of a loved one

Or a life they thought was real

But found to be lies stitched together by the soul of one who

Pretends to have no heartbeat

-Them

They are eaten alive

By this instant gratifying, short lived pleasure dripping mask

This charade

That somehow

They are weak.

 

We are told the ones who are weak

Are those who fall down

More than once

And sometimes don’t tell

A soul

That theirs is slowly breaking down

And they don’t know what to do

 

We are told the weak ones

Are those who

Wake every day

With the knowledge

That their demons are still

Inside their blood, their skull,

In the marrow of their bones

And they have to fight them off

Again

and Again

And Evermore

Or cede one moment and

Never return to breathe

 

Those who feel

I mean Really Feel

And live like it all matters

Those who find life

Sacred

Worth fight for

Worth spilling would-be murderous blood

Worth dying for

Those who hurt

When another hurts

When a human is ripped away

From another soul

When a dog is

Tortured

A cat set on fire behind that building

Those who sob at home

When they see the pain

On the children’s faces

On tv

Those who ache

Because they can do nothing

For their love

Wrongly Accused

Wrongly Hated

Wrongly Treated

Battered and broken and treated

Like so much trash

Those who want life

But don’t know how to fight

 

 

Those who cry

Who hurt

Rage in their heart

Wish for some

Magical power

To make it all better

 

We are told that these people are the weak ones.

 

That the people who

Shoot for fun

Who hurt because they can

Rape like its a rite of passage

Lie to get what they want

Pretend they feel nothing

When inside

They are bleeding from every cell

That feeds into their

Battered heart

Hardly beating within a hollow

Cage made of bones and paper scraps

The people who give up on

Those who aren’t strong “like them”

The people who ressent those who

Hurt

Who can’t get back up right away

Like they pretend to

Who have to fight the same battle every day

Like they don’t bother to

Who keep getting hit with the same car

In their living room

Where there are no streets

No reason for someone

To drive through their home

And attack

Because they think it is fun

Because it feels good to hurt another

Because they no longer truly feel

Anything

But blood lust

And arrogance

An urge to strike

To force down

To hold mouths shut

and remove another’s power

 

We are told that these people are the strong ones.

Because they pretend they don’t feel

Until they don’t

Because they take what they want

By erasing another’s life

 

We are told that the people who are weak

Are the ones

Asking for help.

What scares me most, is when we believe their lies.

When we don’t stand up

We don’t cry

For people to see

We don’t step up to and beside those

Who have echoed what we know is truth

And speak truth with them

Even thought it is terror in our blood

And our bodies shake

And our hearts pound

But that’s the difference

We let the fear flow through us

as we stand for what we know

is hard

but right

What scares me is when

We don’t grab the hand

Of those who can’t find the words

Or the sense or the hope

And are seeking an anchor

A lighthouse

In another soul

So theirs doesn’t

Burn out

 

Like Gandhi once said,

“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.”

 

We are all strong and we are all weak. Simply in different places and at different times.

To pretend apathy, hate, the cold heart… is strong, is to end any chance we have at a life worth living. At a world we can attempt to call humane. To pretend we are not who we are, is to put the gun in our own mouths, pull the trigger, and keep walking around, like we are somehow real.

 

How Genre Fiction Changes Lives For Real

Sometimes fantasy isn’t very far from the truth.

I’m a storyteller.
It’s what I do.
I’m a writer.

And, not get to get dramatic but stories change lives.
Because stories ARE lives.
Stories are how we as humans relate to other humans and human values, struggles, ideologies, victories, etc.

Anywho, this is a post I wrote a while ago but then forgot about. Nice to know it still 100% applies.

 


A blood prophet is a gal who is born with the ability to tell the future…. If her skin is cut and blood flows from the wound.
This brings great pain until she speaks the prophecy out loud, which she then cannot remember, as her brains switches off and she feels euphoria to compensate for the terrible things she sees.

But what really pinged for me is how she experienced life.
And how OVER STIMULATED she got, so easily.
And yet she still SAVED LIVES.
She matters, has purpose.
Even though she can’t handle more than a few more “images” a day.
When Meg, the main character who is a blood prophet that escaped slavery, began to live in the real world, (that is, outside of a white-walled room with nothing in it, literally), she became way too easily overstimulated by all the new stimuli and her brain sort of “turned off” and she was a zombie for a few minutes. Without even realizing it, she’d zone out, turn off, numb.
You see, Meg, like all blood prophets, was kept in a teeny little room and shown photos of things from the outside world. The only experience with the outside world she ever had.
When Meg has new images or places, situations, photos in a magazine, facial expressions, personal feelings, etc…. and she get’s too many new ones in one day… she’s done.

I realized, this is exactly what I do.
My brain turns off.
Without me realizing it.
I was abused as a child and as such, learned to “detach” or clinically put, “dissociate”.
Meaning, mentally, Daphne wasn’t home.
As I grew older I continued coping with unhealthy situations and relationships this way.
Without knowing it.
Once into therapy, we figured it out.

But I didn’t know it was so pervasive in my everyday life.
I thought it was one size fits all.
Instead, there’s versions of it. Levels.

To spare any lengthy dissertation of my life and experiences in the past four years, I’ll stick with the most jarring and recent realization.
Which came about ONLY once I’d read this book and realized it was an actual thing that happens to human beings.

I started college.
One class.
First semester.
A subject I LOVE.
I approach class every day with enthusiasm, interest, excitement, ready to learn more about what I love and apply it to my life.
And I HATE college.
Let me repeat…
HATE!
LOATH WITH A PASSION!!!

I couldn’t figure out why.
When it finally hit me, I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure it out. It was once I’d read three books in this series that I added the knowledge to my life and behaviors in the past months and the light bulb BURST into life above my head.
I am a slow learner.
No, really.
I need to soak in, absorb, directly apply information to my life, and repeatedly read stuff, take notes, dissect, etc. when it comes to learning.
When it comes to doing things in a job, I learn really fast.
When I have to read and learn something new in a book environment, I’m slower than molasses in midsummer.
And it threw me. I’d always considered myself a quick learner. When I had things to do – I excelled. Give me a pattern of activities to do and BOOM I have it down.
Not to mention I got through schooling with ‘A’s in every subject.
So HOW am I a slow learner?
I focused on getting good grades. Not on learning. School doesn’t reward learning; it rewards good grades, doing the work, being disciplined, etc.
I’m a hard worker, I’m disciplined.
I’m a slow learner.
I need to learn at a much slower pace than 3 chapters of twenty-five pages each and 3 assignments with their own set of research and information – in one week. Which is the definition of college.
NOT for me.
Lucky for a gal like me, life has options.

Reading Anne Bishop’s novels on Meg taught me something about life, about myself, about how I learn, and about how often I get overstimulated and zone out, without realizing it.
REAL LIFE wasn’t teaching me this.
NOTHING was teaching me this.
A work of fiction. A story. An urban fantasy. This is how I learned vital information about myself and how I operate within the world.
A work of fiction genre taught me truth no one else and nothing else ever had.
THAT is the power of genre fiction.
It is a lie with more truth in it than we can imagine.
Because no story, no matter how bizarre or unusual, is ever truly made up.


The series I am talking about in the post is Anne Bishop’s “The Others” Series. You can check her books out here. I have only read books #2, 3, and 4. I’m excited to read more.

What have works of fiction taught you?