Brief post today, as I write a not-so-brief paper and study for finals. 

I’ve been writing a lot about what not to do with respect to mental illness disclosure, so this quote from Jesse on how to respond when a friend shares, is a useful counterpoint.

So the best thing to say forever and always (no matter how repetitive it sounds) is “I love you, I care about you, and I am sorry you struggle with this. I hope to see you get better/am glad to hear that you are recovering.”

Brilliant and multipurpose.


5 thoughts on “Responding

  1. 1

    ::nods:: Some years ago I realized an amazing thing: The best reaction to bad news is to say “I’m so sorry to hear that.” Maybe offer a hug if it’s appropriate.

    But the important thing is to say that and then to SHUT UP and allow the other person to talk. Don’t try and “help.” Don’t offer advice. Don’t tell them that if they just smiled/got a job/got married/whatever, their problems would be solved.

    So yeah, “I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling with this. I love you.” Then STFU. If they want your advice or suggestions, they’ll ask.

    (If I had a dollar for every person with no medical or psychological credentials who tried to diagnose or solve my anxiety disorders and my infertility…well, I’d have a whole lot of dollars.)

    1. 1.1

      I’d say that’s a good general rule, but a lot of people also throw something out there as an invitation to have others prod them about it because they have difficulty self-motivating to talk about things that are difficult/painful but still really want to do so (people also do this things that are not difficult/painful). I would say that shutting up is a good default unless you know the person well and suspect that ze really does want you to try to draw out a conversation.

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