Coping up with negative reaction from others
Despite the recent positive representation of mental health in the news and campaigns such as Every Mind Matters, there is still much stigma associated with mental illness.
If you have a mental health challenge, the last thing you need to cope with is negative reactions from other people. This kind of response often goes beyond the traditional ‘pull yourself together’ comment by a family member or friend or the all too common reaction that your mental health issue is somehow your fault.
Is It Your Fault People React This Way?
The answer to this is simple, and it’s: No.
You are not responsible for the reaction someone has to your mental illness. In most circumstances, unfortunately, it’s not the fault of the person who has an adverse reaction either. There can be a range of different reasons why someone has difficulty understanding or coping with your mental health challenges. It might just be a lack of understanding, or they have trouble facing difficult problems such as this. Assigning blame to the person who has a negative reaction, unfortunately, doesn’t generally help either.
Why Some People Show Negative Reactions to Mental Illness
For many people, mental illness is a big unknown. It’s not like cancer or a heart condition where you can immediately understand what it is. People can often show negative reactions to mental illness simply because they are unsure of what to do next or how to provide support.
They might be frightened and not particularly confident. They may even have had mental health issues themselves but don’t want to get involved again because it brings back too many bad memories.
Some people are just ill-informed. They conflate depression with feeling down. They see anxiety issues as a sign of weakness.
Mental health can be a really difficult thing to address, and it’s often much easier to turn away rather than try to help. In some cases, if a mental health problem is persistent, as many are, the person can lose patience or get tired of having this problem ‘on their plate.’
What to do if You Have a Negative Reaction
There’s no doubt a negative reaction, whatever it’s the reason for existing, is likely to have a huge impact on someone with mental illness. It’s almost the last thing you want to deal with when you are also struggling to cope with the emotional and physical impact of your condition.
So what can you do?
The first thing is not to take it personally. That can be a hard thing to do if you are struggling with a problem such as depression or anxiety or any other mental health challenge.
It can also be tiring explaining yourself or your condition to people. While they will usually understand the pain that comes with a broken bone or a heart problem, they can be less comfortable with a mental health issue that, for example, stops you going out in public or leaves your sat on the sofa unable to cope with life. Almost all people with mental health challenges will come across individuals who are negative and unsupportive. For you, this could be a person at work, a boss, a family member, or simply a friend. Unfortunately, you can’t expect everyone to support you and be understanding.
It’s important to surround yourself, however, with people who do understand what you are going through. That’s why support groups are so essential in coping with mental health problems. Especially if the negative response is coming from someone close to you, it’s vital that you have that support group, however big or small, behind you. It can help you find solutions and better handle that negative reaction so that it doesn’t impact your illness and give you some positive tools to cope.