Did you know that millions of American adults are affected by depression and anxiety? Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. These disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including but not limited to, life experiences, brain chemistry, and genetics.
If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you’ve heard the crap people have said to you regarding your mental health. This post, however, is for the well-intentioned vinas who don’t have depression or anxiety and are trying to support their sisters who do. Here are some things not to say to fellow vinas with depression or anxiety.
“Just be happy!”
Depression and anxiety aren’t a choice, so your vina isn’t choosing to be sad or nervous or anxious or listless or ANYTHING. This is like telling a paralyzed person, “Just get up and walk.” The inability to cheer up or smile or chill out is an integral part of the anxiety or depression your vina is suffering from.
For most vinas with anxiety, telling them to relax is about the most unhelpful thing you could say. Period. Because at times, we literally. cannot. relax. No matter how hard we try or how much you tell us to.
“Everything will be fine.”
This might sound like a helpful statement, but to someone who suffers from depression and/or anxiety, this feels like a dismissal. Try and tread lightly – don’t dismiss her issues by telling her it will all be okay. Listen, and talk through it!
“You’re overreacting.” “This isn’t that big of a deal.” “Why are you so sensitive?!”
Regardless of their mental health, does anyone like to be told they’re overreacting? No. So stop telling us we’re overreacting.
And hearing something isn’t a big deal doesn’t actually stop it from being a big deal to your vina. It’s a part of her having depression and anxiety. Again, do your best to not minimize the struggles of others. Try and be empathetic, especially if you don’t suffer from anxiety or depression.
“Get a job/change your clothes/go to the gym/insert wellness tip here.”
Perhaps try to be more helpful than just telling your vina to do or to not do something. Please and thanks! Part of what her anxiety or depression likely entails is a crippling fear of the unknown or a fear to starting new things or a fear of failure or any combination of these things. Be empathetic, and try to help your vina take the baby steps she wants to take. Don’t prescribe a cure for her.
“There are some people that have it a lot worse than you.”
Repeat after me: I will not minimize my vina’s experiences in any way, shape, or form. Everyone has unique experiences, including you and your vina. Sure, some people may have it worse, but nothing feels more like, “I’m not listening to you, and I don’t really care about your problems” than the above statement. It’s all about empathy, vinas!
Share tips on how you stay a supportive friend on the Hey! VINA app.
(Featured image via pbteen.com)