Over the years people have said things to me that at best can be seen as silly and upsetting at worst.
As soon as someone knows you have an illness mental or physical everyone becomes an instant expert and advice and helpful comments follow!!
How often when people say something ridiculous have I wanted to say something sarcastic back or even witty but used to just smile and say thanks for your concern.
One day I decided instead of feeling uncomfortable or upset I could use this as a time to educate in a low key way without making the person feel awkward.
A customer said to me that she was having a 'bipolar moment" because she was buying 2 books and looking to buy more!
I have put in brackets what I wanted to say but didn't!
(What I wanted to say was, no if you were having a bipolar moment you would have stripped off, be dancing on the table, bought everything in my shop and be flirting with everyone.)
I explained to the customer that I knew she was joking and yes bipolar can be about spending too much but it is much more than a moment and there is a very low side. I did not want to overwhelm her or make her feel uncomfortable. She seemed to listen.
There are times when people's comments can upset us and we do not have the energy to reply. If I feel well I do try to educate or just offer another perspective.
I have a friend in her late 70's whose younger brother had depression and was staying with her for a break who asked me;
"Why is he ok one day and the next he stays in his room all day. I don't know what I have done wrong."
I explained that some days can be better than others. I reassured her that it was not anything she was doing that was causing his depression and equally nothing she could do would suddenly make him better.
My friend listened and read some information. She still found her brother's behaviour difficult to cope with, but she did not take it personally and gave him space to rest and improve.
When someone makes an unhelpful comment, gives unwanted advice or asks a silly question about your mental health, how do you respond?
Do you ignore, get angry, educate or respond differently depending on who makes the comment and the mood you are in.
If it is appropriate I would try to educate and see how it goes.
A Moodscope member
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