17 things that your loved ones with mental illness wish you knew this Thanksgiving. Here are some of the things they say.

  1. “The thought of being in a room full of people, even family members, is terrifying to me.”
  2. “With all holidays, but especially Thanksgiving, there’s a tremendous focus on food, which is hard for those struggling with and in recovery from an eating disorder. With this added attention the already food-focused individual may feel overwhelmed, break down, use unhealthy behaviors or even relapse.”
  3. “Sometimes just being there for us or giving us a hug can help a lot. If we seem sad, don’t ask what’s wrong; ask if we need a hug.”
  4. “Just understand and don’t judge.”
  5. “Even though we’re absolutely thankful, we may not be able to show it. Our faces may show depression, grief, anger, or sadness but our hearts are thankful.”
  6. “If I’m sitting alone it isn’t an invitation to join me. I’ve stepped away to reset my brain.”
  7. “[Mental illness] is not something you can turn on and off.”
  8. “Although Thanksgiving dinner is enjoyable, it causes a great deal of anxiety because I don’t like eating around people I don’t know well.”
  9. “Don’t feel bad if I don’t call you or don’t come to family gatherings. I really love you guys, but sometimes it’s necessary for me to be alone.”
  10. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve been struggling since I last saw most of you, and I don’t want to talk about it.”
  11. “Being around groups of people is physically exhausting for me. Please don’t press me to stay longer when I am ready to go home.”
  12. “I can only take socializing for a little while before I need a break. I know I didn’t used to be that way, but anxiety and depression have made life more difficult. I promise I still love you as much as ever and genuinely am happy to see you.”
  13. “Being happy is not always a choice.”
  14. “Loud noises, crowds, yelling and running about really triggers me. I need a quiet place to chill when things get overwhelming.”
  15. “Talking about it behind my back only makes it worse. If you want to help me change, talk about it with me.”
  16. “I don’t want to be treated any differently, and you do not need to memorize some politically correct recipe for being around me. If I need something, I will ask! So, by golly, carry on! Be yourselves! Otherwise, it’s just weird watching people walk on eggshells.”
  17. “I wish people understood that I’m thankful for my mental illness because it has made me a better man than I once was and pushed me to love more and dream bigger than I ever did.”

Leave a Reply