How to Cope with Insensitive Comments about Your Mental Health
If you’re struggling with your mental health, you’re far from alone. In fact, data suggests that almost half of all Americans will have mental health problems in their lifetime, with some suggesting that’s as high as 75% when you also include burnouts. The truth is that at any given time, one in five Americans is living with a mental illness.
It’s common and there’s no shame in it, yet many people don’t agree. That can lead to insensitivity, judgement, and feeling embarrassed when your mental health gets in the way. Learning to cope with that insensitivity and judgement is important if you’re going to feel good about yourself, because you have to expect that it will happen.
Ask to Talk (After You Stop Being Emotional)
If someone hurts your feelings and you want to maintain a relationship with them, it’s important that you talk to them. That can be extremely difficult, especially if you struggle with anxiety or insecurity. Still, sitting down and talking about your mental health disorder, your capabilities, and how you feel about comments can be the right thing to do. For example, that person may care about you and might not want to hurt you. They might be oblivious to the fact that you’d care about their comments.
At the same time, it’s important to go into that sort of discussion from a point of being calm. People tend to react to being told they hurt someone by getting upset. If you’re also upset, things can flare up and turn into a fight you didn’t want and might not have the energy to handle. Try to take things slow, if things get heated, ask for breaks, and set boundaries.
It’s also important not to go into things from an accusatory point of view. For example:
“Hey, the other day, when you said those things about me, it really hurt my feelings, I know you didn’t mean it that way, but I’d like to talk about it because I care about you and our friendship”.
There’s no one right way to phrase things or to approach things, but normally a good approach is to make the statement about how you felt, reinforce that you don’t think they hurt you on purpose, and reinforce that you care and just want to fix things.
Try to Educate
It’s not your job to educate your friends and family. But, it can certainly help if you can get them to learn about your mental health problems and their impact on you and what you can do. Here, you can prepare a talk with points or facts about your mental illness. You might also pick up brochures or booklets from your local clinic. Or, you can pick a book related to your mental health and ask the people closest to you to read it.
In some cases, it’s reasonable to ask your family members to go to family therapy with you as well. However, that will normally focus on helping you to fix relationships as well as to educate.
Remember that It’s Not About You
People make comments for a variety of reasons, but often it’s because they are struggling or they’re unfamiliar with something. Of course, some people are still at the high school level of petty comments, but most of us mature quickly as we age and don’t engage in petty comments for the sake of petty comments.
This means that if someone is making insensitive comments they might be:
- Struggling or stressed with adaptions around your mental health
- Unaware of what you’re dealing with
- Misinformed or poorly educated about your mental health problem or medication
Taking the time to talk to that person and to figure out what is going on can be helpful. For example, if they’re hurting your feelings by pointing out that you’re suddenly trying hard for guests when you never try hard for them, it’s not an easy fix, but you can understand what’s going on. If they make bad comments about your medication or you leaning on it, you can talk to them about how that works. Of course, not every person who makes an insensitive comment is worth talking to or understanding, so you’ll have to make that judgement call based on the people in your life.
Find Someone to Talk To
It’s important that you be able to talk to the people in your life and to share when you’re hurt. That shouldn’t always be to the person who hurt you. It also shouldn’t always be to a spouse. Instead, it’s better to have a support network of people you can lean on and ask for help from. In some cases, self-help groups are a great place to turn. In other cases, your family, friends, and partners are a better option.
Get Professional Help
In most cases, getting professional help and therapy is the best way to learn how to manage your emotions and your emotional responses. That’s true even when they’re a valid reaction to someone saying hurtful things. If you can go to therapy and learn emotional regulation, you’re considerably further along the way to coping with reaction and to being hurt than you are without it.
Of course, if you’re getting comments based on getting help, that can be a lot harder. But, often, that should mean discussing those comments, how you feel about it, and what steps you should or can take with your therapist. It won’t always be relevant, but it can help you to better manage having people being insensitive around you.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, you’re not alone. Still, people judge and stigmatize every aspect of mental health problems, from being less capable, to getting therapy, to requiring medication, to even saying no to things because you have enough to manage. Dealing with those comments can be difficult, hurtful, and even traumatic. That may mean talking to the people around you, it may mean learning coping mechanisms and separating yourself from the comments, and it may mean working on your emotional regulation in therapy.
If you or a loved one needs help with mental health treatment, drug rehab, or alcohol rehab Compassion Recovery Center is here to help. Contact us to ask about our modern and effective treatment programs.