Don’t Say This to Someone With Mental Illness

Mental Illness Stare

 “It Must Be Nice…”

As a person who suffers from mental illness and is not employed, I’ve heard this phrase often in many forms from strangers, so-called friends, and even my own family. It’s been said to my face and behind my back.

“It must be nice to sit at home doing nothing all day.”
“It must be nice to not have to work for a living.”
“It must be nice to be so spoiled by a man.”
Yada Yada Yada.

I have come to understand that when someone says this to me, what they’re really saying is “I’m so jealous”. But let me assure you: you do not want my life!

It has not been nice, being born with mental illness (Borderline Personality and Bipolar Disorders) that were likely passed through my genetics. It was not nice to have been sexually assaulted twice at the age of seventeen, resulting in PTSD. It was not nice to have spent years growing up with an alcoholic, domestically violent stepfather, contributing to depression and anxiety.

It is NOT nice to sit at home all day, feeling like dead weight on the world’s already broken back. It is NOT nice to be severely agoraphobic, caged inside these walls:

  • jumping at my own shadow, shivering and shaking with unchecked anxiety.
  • cowering in a closet when the doorbell chimes or the telephone rings.
  • sobbing uncontrollably, and trying to will myself to die because I have vowed to my family and my God, that I will not take the matter into my own hands.
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I want to work. I want to contribute to society. I want to boost to my family’s income, and experience the elusive beast called “prosperity”. Unfortunately, the beast I experience is an entirely different animal.

  • Do you know that we live paycheck to paycheck, delicately balancing on that slippery poverty line? One bad week could kickstart the downward spiral that would eventually see us homeless.
  • Do you know that I criticize/blame/hate myself for this far more than you ever could?
  • Do you know that I often deny myself of necessary clothing, personal products, medical care, and even FOOD, because I know that I did nothing to earn them? (Not that we could afford them anyway.)
  • Do you know how humiliating it is to be nearly 50 years old and STILL have to borrow money from my parents, and sometimes even my grown children, just to keep the power on or to buy groceries, or to put gas in the car so that my husband CAN work?

I do not “sit” at home all day.

Social worker memeYes, I am unemployed and on nearly every social network, as this meme states in it’s sarcastic eloquence. But aside from the long list of household chores, for which I have chosen to take responsibility:

I’m also trying desperately to gain followers for my many blogs, because maybe I’ll earn 10 cents for every 50 people who visit, IF they’re willing to view the Google ad. Unfortunately most people have their Ad Blocker on.

I’m also trying to promote the simple crafts I sell in my Etsy Shop, which, over the course of two years has only earned as much as one month’s internet bill.

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I sit at the computer and do internet searches and take long monotonous surveys for 2 miniscule cents a piece.

I attempt to sell unused household items in sale groups and on eBay, which largely go unnoticed.

I’m screaming to the world that I exist!

But (maybe) more importantly, I’m screaming to the world that I’m here; that I have thoughts and feelings, opinions and insight. I exist! Because if no one ever even knows that you exist, then what is the point of even existing?

So I say to you, it must be nice to be able to sit back and pass judgement on people without even knowing what’s happening behind their closed doors. You can listen, and ask honest, straightforward questions.

Then again, no it isn’t.

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