If you have a friend or loved one suffering from a psychological health condition like a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), it can be hard at times to express your compassion. It’s important to be sensitive when speaking to them about their struggles and also crucial for them to have your support during this challenging time.
While you may always have the best intentions, something you think is harmless may actually be painful for them to hear.
“You don’t look sick.”
Not showing physical symptoms of being ill doesn’t mean that illness is not there. While there can sometimes be slight, but noticeable changes in appearance, the majority of changes are mental, such as feeling emotionally numb, experiencing panic attacks, and having suicidal thoughts.
“You’re lucky! It could’ve been worse.”
There is nothing that is lucky about living with a psychological health condition. Every day can come with a new set of challenges.
“Are you sure it’s not just all in your head?”
It can be hard for someone to understand what a person suffering from TBI is going through because those symptoms are primarily invisible to the eye. This battle is internal and is very real. Downplaying symptoms can make sufferers feel as if their psychological health conditions aren’t real and could prevent them from seeking the professional help that they need. It can also lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety. Read more about the stigma of mental illness.
“Maybe you should just get out more.”
Certain social situations can be overwhelming for those who suffer from psychological health conditions. Loud noises and crowds can often be stress-inducing triggers, so avoiding them can be better for their health.
“Just look on the bright side!”
While positivity and optimism play a key role in the healing process, “looking on the bright side” won’t treat psychological health conditions alone.
“What if you just stop thinking about it?”
When someone experiences a traumatic event, it’s hard to erase the impact of that moment from their life. Oftentimes, that moment will replay itself over and over again. Experiencing these flashbacks can lead to destructive behavior to try to block out the memory.
“Have you tried _________?”
There are many ways to help treat psychological health conditions, but leave it to the experts to find what works best for the patient. (Unless you’re asking them if they’ve tried to seek professional treatment. Then by all means, please encourage that!)
The greatest things that you can say to someone who is struggling with a TBI are genuine words of support. Let them know you’re there for them and that you believe that what they’re going through is a real illness. They’ll appreciate that more than anything else.
Posted on October 12 2015 in Blog