9 things people with mental illnesses want you to understand


As the rates of depression, anxiety and mental illness diagnoses in the UK rise, awareness hopefully does too.

Stigmasurrounding poor mental remains rife and we need nationwide events like 'Mental Health Awareness' week now, more than ever.

Despite all the fantastic work people are doing, misunderstanding surrounding mental illness still persists and cannot be ignored.

If you have not experienced any symptoms yourself, it can be hard to understand or to know how to help.

So it's vital for people to hear the experiences and advice of those actually suffering from mental illness.

Which is why measures like this Reddit thread are so important - the thread anonymously asks: "What do you want people to understand about mental illness?"

Here are some enlightening answers about nine of the most common mental health disorders...

1. Panic attacks / anxiety

Telling me to 'calm down' doesn't help make my panic attacks stop.

- Ijustwanttosellout

Knowing is different from feeling.

I know that I'm safe and that I'm being irrational. I know.

But my heart is beating from fear and I feel like death is imminent and that I might die anytime now and that someone is watching me, planning to kill me.

- korolial

2. Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia isn't always scary and you can live a relatively normal life while having it.

Coming from a schizophrenic, if I am ever violent it's against myself and no one else. I have control over myself and have learned to ignore hallucinations and control impulses

Also schizophrenics can be damn friendly and funny.

- jxsuschrist

3. Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (known as ADD or ADHD)

What a lot of people don't get about ADHD/ADD is that I can hyperfocus on stuff that interests me. This was super evident when I was a kid.

I was a distracted nut most of the time but once you plopped me in front of my Sega (or a computer, or gameboy) I could be in my own little world for a longggg time.

- dihedral3

'What a lot of people don't get about ADHD/ADD is that I can hyperfocus on stuff that interests me.'

God, this. This is one of the worst symptoms of ADHD because people see it and think 'well clearly he can focus, he just can't prioritise.'

- amateur-denstist

Yes, you can focus. The b*tch with hyperfocus is that you can't turn it off. You stay in the zone while people around you are jumping up and down going 'WILL you QUIT that ALREADY?!'

- Alianirlian

4. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

And OCD doesn't mean you just like things clean & orderly.

- shittymorpheus

I'd like people to understand more about OCD. It's not about being clean or tidy (necessarily) - intrusive thoughts can take all kinds of different forms.

Some of the most common intrusive thoughts are things like unwanted sexual thoughts, fear of being a paedophile, really f***ed up violent thoughts - but even though these are really common for people with OCD, you can't really talk about them.

- peace-and-bong-life

5. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

That PTSD doesn't only affect veterans. I have diagnosed PTSD from being first on the scene and performing CPR / mouth-to-mouth on my partner before they suddenly passed away recently.

It is a cruel and debilitating illness that I can't escape even for a moment. It hurts to see how much it's made fun of online with those -triggered- memes that are constantly circulating.

- conse105

6. Anorexia

That anorexia is not just about 'Just Eat'. It is a complex illness that isn't a choice.

As well, if you see anyone with anorexia eating, they are not recovering and probably going through a lot of anxiety or stress.

- DenchBoyz10

7. Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression)

Bipolar disorder doesn't mean sad some days and happy others. It can completely change a person and make them do things during a manic episode they would never do otherwise.

These episodes can last anywhere from a day to a couple of months. It is scary being with someone for a long time and seeing them change unexpectedly at the drop of a dime.

- JordanSM

8. Depression

That being depressed doesn't mean you're sad.

[...] It's more of a feeling of hopelessness, emptiness, and apathy. Like nothing even matters and it's not worth trying to get better because f*** it, everything sucks and you hate yourself too much anyway.

So you isolate yourself, sleep all day, stay in your comfort zone, and the feeling feeds back on itself and continuously gets worse.

- amateur-dentist

Apathy is the big one. I just don't feel anything, or what I do feel is exceptionally numb.

Depression isn't sad. Depression, for me at least, is despair and apathy that consume me like an ash grey wildfire.

- rjjm88

I also really wished people stopped mistaking depression for laziness.

I don't choose to be in bed for 3 weeks and barely eat anything... I don't choose to flush my academic career down the toilet by skipping lectures.

That isn't laziness. That is me struggling so hard to function properly that I've given up and shut myself down. And you telling me that in reality it's all because I'm lazy just sends me further down this horrible spiral of self-doubt.

- rcam95

It baffles my mind how my depression can simultaneously annoy someone because I want to be left alone and don't answer the phone when at the same time they will say I am just doing it for attention.

- BrandonPointyCorners

9. Suicidal

Being suicidal or attempting suicide is the last attempt at self-care. Healing from this takes compassion and empathy, not stereotyping or avoiding the conversation.

- why_you_always_lie

If you are feeling vulnerable, upset or depressed there is always someone available to talk and help.

You can contact the Samaritans 24-hours a day for free via their website or phone line 116123

If you're LGBTQI and in need of someone to talk to, Switchboard LGBT offer advice and help every day from 10am to 10pm on their website and on 0300 330 0630

Alternatively, if you suspect a young person might be feeling suicidal, you can call Childline for help and advice on 0800 111

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