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How I Dealt With People Who Did Not Understand My Mental Health Issues

Friends and professionals.

Throughout my 20 years of personal experience in dealing with fear and anxiety, I  had a challenging time in getting my friends to understand my  issues with fear, stress, and anxiety.

Most of my friends and relatives were understanding and very supportive of the fact that I struggled with fear and anxiety,  however, there were times some of my friends were not very supportive. The problem was that some of these people got on my case and did not understand my situation.  In order to deal with these people, I  did the following.

The first thing I did was to listen to the mental health professionals and not my friends. My friends meant well but I realized that the professionals  knew my situation since they were trained in the mental health fields. These professionals knew what I was going through and were properly trained. So I made the choice to listen to them and follow their advice and not my friends.

I realized that my goal was to overcome fearful situations and not to please my friends.

I wasn’t going to waste my time arguing with my friends who were giving me a difficult time.  I realized that this was not a public relations event where I needed to get everyone’s approval.  This was my life and my focus was to find the ways to manage my fears.

I told my friends that  the best way for them to help me was to learn more about my situation and to be more understanding.  I suggested they could talk to a mental health professional, read some good books, or attend a support group where they could learn about my situation.  This would give them some idea of what I was going through and hopefully would become more supportive. I also asked some of these mental health professionals on ideas on how to deal with people who were giving me a difficult time.

Some of my friends took my advice and others didn’t do anything . I eventually made the decision to distance myself from people who gave me a difficult time. This seemed cruel however I realized that if I had friends who were hindering my progress in getting better that it was better if they stayed away from me and go bother someone else. As a result, I distanced myself from those people who wouldn’t make an effort to help understand what I was going through. I surrounded myself with positive and supportive people.

It can be difficult dealing with people who get on your case and who do not support you.  Many of these people think they know what is best for you, but the fact of the matter is that their advice could make things even worse. I had one friend who thought he knew everything, but the fact of the matter was that he didn’t have a clue and he gave me bad advice.  Always listen and follow the advice of a mental health professional and not your friends.

I made the decision that I wanted to overcome my fearful issues and that it was not my job to get everyone’s approval. No matter what you do in life, there will always be people who will not agree with you. I realized  that my mental health was more important than pleasing people who were close minded and stubborn.   My advice is not to waste your time and energy on these  people.

Read more posts by Stan Popovich, an author who personally overcame fear and anxiety in his life.

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4 Responses to "How I Dealt With People Who Did Not Understand My Mental Health Issues"

  1. Scott Schneider says:

    Hi Stan,

    Great post on the way to deal with ‘certain’ people who don’t understand these issues. You have some very sound advice for anyone navigating the rough waters of mental illness and your experiences have dovetailed some of mine. I’d like to add, in a more blunt way, that the overall message I do get from this post is that if people aren’t going to accept you for YOU, then you don’t need them and they are not your “friends”. We toss the word “friend” around in this culture like we do popcorn and pennies and really most of the people we consider our “friends” are nothing but glorified acquaintances who don’t have our best interests in mind anyway.

  2. Rick says:

    I had a boss that treated me pretty much the way you described. Giving bad advice, trying to force me to be what I could not be. On top of it, he manipulated my work environment so as to make it nearly impossible for me to work there, because he did not want someone with a mental illness working there.

    I fear that, had I been physically handicapped and in need of crutches, he would have kicked them out from under me.

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