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Ridicule or educate. Tuesday June 14, 2016

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

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Orangeblossom Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 7:05am

Thanks Leah. I never think it a good idea to ridicule people. When someone upsets me I just withdraw from them & pull up the metamorphical drawbridge. But am not sure that is the best way always. I also feel sometimes that I am not very helpful so don't say anything or worry that I have upset someone in some way inadvertently.

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:09am

Orangeblossom, I wouldnt ridule intentionally but sometimes I think Of something witty in my head while I smile and say thanks for sharing. Thanks for your reply. I think if withdrawing works best for you then that is better than trying to do something that makes you uneasy.

Belinda Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 7:35am

Dear Leah,
How wise you are. I think I am one of those who goes overboard and overwhelm's others with information, or at the other extreme, says nothing.
I must also admit, though, I am not happy when medication is mentioned.

The idea of gently educating, when one is well, is an excellent one. I need to reflect on that one & put it carefully into practise. I have been enabled to grow past the angry stage. With control, I can sometimes ignore, when it is better to say nothing, rather than say an unhelpful thing, but I think saying the right thing must be the tops. Congratulation Leah.

What I will ask, though, is any question silly?
Perhaps if the intention behind it negative. (I am just reflecting to myself.) So if there is negativity, perhaps the other person has a problem? So you ARE right, Leah.
Sometimes I need concrete examples to understand.

I find the questions on these blogs very interesting and stimulating. Lovely to have a safe forum to express myself. Thank you.

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:12am

Belinda, I like how you answered your own question. I suppose I thought questions that I think of as silly, so it is subjective or questions I have heard a 100 times. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I think everyone must reply in a way that suits them. There is not one right way.

Tutti Frutti Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 8:21am

Wow Leah, I think the way you have managed to control your reaction and say something which improves the other person's under is great. It would be a really good thing to aim to do but not sure I am anywhere near there yet.

Lightening up a bit, I am missing my daily chuckle from Hopeful One. If you are reading HO good luck with the exam today. I don't know many jokes and they are all rather geeky but here is the best of them:

A computer programmer was told by his wife. 'Can you go to the corner shop and get some bread and if there are eggs buy a dozen'. He came back with a dozen loaves of bread.

Hope that tickles a few people and puts the brain chemicals in a good place. I hope that I haven't offended anyone by stereotyping computer programmers. (I am a mathematician who has done bits of programming here and there so the stereotype applies equally to me.) Jokes appear to be fraught with dangers on this front when actually stereotyping is just what Leah's blog was all about challenging!

Lots of love

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:17am

TF I like your joke. I think humour is a way of replying to questions or comments. I find it relaxes people. Thanks for your comment. I am now a bit worried that I may have across as all knowing which I am a long way from. Sometimes I can be astounded but what people say that I am speechless which is very rare for me.

Lex Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:39am

Cracking joke, Tutti Frutti! L'x

g Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:42am

I have to laugh . I have just written an extremely long post and it disappeared . Have to run.......

g Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:43am

always save everything before posting ( hint ) email does it automatically but not this site !

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 11:26am

g sorry you lost your long post. That is so frustrating. Maybe when you have time you can repost.

Tutti Frutti Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 7:38pm

Leah Just to say that I didn't think you were coming across as telling us how it should be done at all. Would have responded earlier but only just got home. TF x

Tutti Frutti Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 7:57pm

G I lost a post a few days ago as well and it's really annoying. I did manage to repost most of it later on though and since I do have a tendency to witter on a bit the edited highlights (ie what I could remember) was probaby an improvement! All the best TF x

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:23pm

TF, Thank you for your kind words. I suppose I always worry how my words come across .

Angela Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:43am

It's so hard to answer politely when people ask the " loaded" question 'How are you' For years I always said 'fine' even when it was obvious I wasn't. I'm so sick & tired of this evil illness which folk can NOT comprehend on any level - EVEN when they have depression themselves!?

Cyndi Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 11:16am

In AA I learned "fine" stands for F$%^&* up, Insecure, Neurotic and Excitable. LOL.

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 11:28am

Angela, I agree that one of the most annoying things people can say to me is, when I was depressed I never did.. or I managed to hold down an executive job and bring up 5 children- you get the dirft. Everyone experiences depression or any mental illness in a different way. thanks so much for replying.

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 11:30am

Cyndi, have not heard that one, will remember it next time I say I am fine when I am not. Thanks for your comment.

Tutti Frutti Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 7:58pm

Cyndi love this one.

Lex Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:45am

I admire your grace, Leah. I expect most of us have said insensitive things from time to time, and to have someone gently point us in a better direction would be a kindness. Thank you. L'x

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 11:31am

Lex, This is the first time the words grace and Leah have been used in the same sentence. I am known for my lack of tact by my family! Thank you for your kind words.

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 11:38am

I am worried that my blog may give the impression that I always respond with kindness and subtlety. Of course I don't !! I was just trying a different strategy. Sometimes I bite my tongue so hard it bleeds. So please take me off the pedestal of grace and wisdom before I fall off and crash on the floor!!
Once when a distant relative said he thought I would have outgrown my bipolar by now, it took every effort for me not to reply" I guess I am a slow learner".
I really enjoy reading how people cope and look forward to more ways of coping and personal responses.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 12:20pm

Hi Leah. You didn't come across as saintly at all. We know you are not Lol! I noticed the ex wife of the Orlando shooter said she thought he was bi polar and I wondered then if she knew the true meaning of the word. The other thought that springs to mind is that your blog confirmed my strong belief that really, anyone who has not suffered depression or bi polar cannot possibly know how it feels to have these. This is not the fault of the person who tries to sympathise or help; it's just not possible to get into the mind of a sufferer. This is why therapy has never helped me long term and why Moodscope has helped me. It takes one to know one. Great blog Leah. Jul xx

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:27pm

Thanks so much Jul for your kind words and inetresting reply. AS Angela said even people who hd depression may not understand as everyone experiences the illness differently. I agree that Moodscope is a greta help as it is full of compassionate people. Take care Leah xx

Lexi Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 12:33pm

I loved your post Leah. Instead of making the other person wrong, you took a moment to educate and you did it beautifully. Well done. One of the upsides (Is there one? :)) of having depression and anxiety is that it has made me more sensitive to others: I assume everyone is struggling with something regardless of whether I know it. I try to be kind and supportive and chose my words thoughtfully. And of course you don't always respond with kindness. Who does?? Sometimes you just gotta be blunt. The most insensitive person I've encountered was actually a psychologist. Her words were so hurtful and ignorant that I really had to pull myself up and let her have it. xo Lexi

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:31pm

Lexi Thanks for your thoughtful post. I agree I think having bipolar has made me more understanding and less judgmental. I think I have always been ultra sensitive. I agree there are times when one has to be blunt. When you let the psychologist 'have it " I bet it was also done with kindness. Take care Leah

Dolphin Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 3:39pm

Thanks so much for your blog Leah - there is much I'll think about in how I deal with situations. I don't have great coping mechanisms unfortunately. I have 2 types of people that I'm not good with. The first are the un-nuanced new-agey types who tell you condescendingly that you have a choice about being depressed or not. Of course you have a choice in how you respond to your depression, but, but, but ... I'm not sure there is a way to educate people who are so sure of their views. With these types, I just get very vague. Or withdraw - as I did with a jin shin (?) practitioner - I didn't think she was likely to help me if she was so adamant about how I should be. Then there are the people who say quite mean things and call it 'banter'. I seldom respond in kind (if they are being mean) and tend to stick to a logical point of view and wait for them to get back to the issue. I suppose they feel they have struck a brick wall and usually tell me I have no sense of humour ... Sometimes I will say - ow, that's mean - and hope they will reflect, but that's when they say 'it's only banter'. Writing all this makes me see how lucky I am with most of the people I interact with. This has got a bit rambling so I'll come to an end.

PS In case some of you haven't heard this, Dolly Parton was asked what she thought of blonde jokes. She said they didn't get under her skin because she knew she wasn't dumb and she knew she wasn't blonde! (Though, in a reflective mood, why can't we laugh at ourselves and the human condition rather than projecting on to an 'other'?)

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:35pm

Dolphin, Thanks for your reply which has given me a lot to think about. I sometimes don't know how to respond when someone says " you know I was only joking". I can and do laugh at myself a lot. Sometimes people say something is just a joke or banter to get out of a situation if they feel they are being criticised.

Sheena Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 6:33pm

Hi Leah, I think you have a wonderful approach, especially if more books are sold! There's teaching and there's learning and I guess that educating those that haven't a clue is really tricky. I listen to other people and those of us who have been diagnosed b.p. tend to chuckle when other people suggest that that life is 'busy', 'stressful', or they 'haven't slept properlhy for xx number of years'. All these issues woud suggest an undiagnosed MH problem, wouldn't it?Sheena x

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:38pm

Sheena, Thanks for your kind words. I think sometimes when people find out or know you have a mental illness, the feel free to tell you all about their symptoms and problems!

Bearofliddlebrain Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 8:40pm are full of sense and sensibility...are you a relative of the Austen family???!!

Bear are quite awesome at times and you're up high on a seat just higher than a pedestal and don't worry about sliding off...we're all here with arms open to catch you if you fall...

I find it hard to let some of my friends know I get depressed because I know their feelings about people with mental health problems already...and it's not good...Leah, like you and others know and have said these peeps are of the 'sort yourself out or pull yourself together I hide it. Then I feel a fraud - because sometimes I would really like them to know that I can't help them all of the time as I am in need of help myself.

Bear hugs to all this evening my liddle grebelings x x x

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:42pm

Bear, As always you are so kind to me and everyone on moodscope. Bear that is so sad, but so relatable, that you feel you cant tell some of your friends how you are really feeling. I think that puts an extra pressure on you becuase if you are always giving of yourself to these people and not getting much back in return, it must take its toll. I assume and hope you do have some friends you can be real with and know that you get depressed. Big hugs xxxx

Eva Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 8:43pm

Great blog Leah, I am very lucky with my friends not to have come across this too much, either they have dealt with depression or anxiety themselves or they ask me how it is from my point of view, but also I ask how they approach things too. I guess we end up educating each other which is great. Also I am my own boss, so I don't have annoying work associates. I feel very privileged. Thanks for letting me see this.

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:44pm

Eva, Thanks for your reply. I am glad you have friends who understand.

Eva Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 8:44pm

Oh, hope everything went well today Ho.

the room above the garage Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:43pm

Leah, thank you, I have only just caught up and I will fall asleep thinking about this. I tend to keep quiet by default, but you've given me stuff to think about and I love that I have something important to ponder as I drift.

Tutti Fritti keeps HOs seat! Love it!'s done!

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:46pm

TRATG, Thanks for your reply. I thought one is supposed to clear one's mind as one drifts, but if this works for you, thats great. Sweet dreams.

the room above the garage Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:44pm

Leah, thank you, I have only just caught up and I will fall asleep thinking about this. I tend to keep quiet by default, but you've given me stuff to think about and I love that I have something important to ponder as I drift.

Tutti Fritti keeps HOs seat! Love it!'s done!

Leah Tue, Jun 14th 2016 @ 10:48pm

Hopeful One, I also hope today went well. Let us know. Tutti Frutti stepped into your funny shoes and did well!! All is well. Take care.

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