Stop telling people with mental illness be grateful
One of my fears in talking about my mental health condition is knowing that some people might treat me differently because of it. The thought of someone interacting with me in a way that was shaped by their own personal prejudices or ideas about what a person with a mental illness looks like is hard for me — mainly because I once maintained similar prejudices and uninformed notions about what mental illness meant and looked like, too. In my ignorance, I assumed you could really only be clinically depressed if you lost your job or family or had a disease like cancer. I was diagnosed with a mental illness. Post-traumatic stress disorder, to be exact, due to the tragic death of my father at a young age and a childhood of abuse and neglect. I knew I would never again look at or view mental illness in the same way when this happened.
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Why you shouldn't tell someone with depression to be grateful they don't have cancer, and expect their fractured bone to stop hurting. I promise you, people living with depression are acutely aware that things probably aren't as bad as they could be.
Don't get me wrong — the ideal time would be one when there's free, effective, and readily available treatment options for every person living with mental illness. But things are better than they've ever been. In the past few years, we've developed a more well-rounded understanding of mental illness, and the social stigma surrounding mental health problems has greatly lessened in my lifetime.
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Yet despite good intentions, it can also be profoundly unhelpful. Some people may wonder why. After all, scientific studies have proved that practising gratitude has enormous benefits for our psychological wellbeing.