Normalizing Mental Illness Symptoms

The helpful way and the invalidating way

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

The invalidating way

A little while back, I told my best friend that I was heading out do some shopping despite being smelly from not having showered for several days. He said it was no big deal, and added “I don’t shower every day. Sometimes the effort isn’t worth it.”

The helpful way

Mental illness can produce some weird effects. It can be easy to start feeling like a freaktastic weirdo with whatever strange symptom it might be that you’re experiencing. But if you hear from your healthcare provider or from someone else with a similar diagnosis that what you’re experiencing is normal for people who have your illness, all of a sudden you’re a lot less freaktastic.

When in doubt, validate

It’s not always clear what approach someone is going to respond best to. My take on it is that validation will always be a good option. That conveys acceptance of the distress that the person is in without evaluating it. Validation makes people feel heard.

Mental health blogger | Former MH nurse | Living with depression | Author of 3 books, latest is Managing the Depression Puzzle | mentalhealthathome.org