The myth that we can't is the worst of all.
The diagnosis of mental illness is the most dangerous time for many of us. Overwhelmed by fear, confusion and the numbing effect of over-medication, we are vulnerable to messages that can have long-term negative consequences. It was during my first months after diagnosis that I fell victim to the messages that perpetuate the myth that we cannot change our condition.
As I was trying to make sense of what was happening to me, I was given a list of the most offensive comments anyone could say to the mentally ill. I’m sure you’ve heard of at least some of them. Examples include: “snap out of it,” “you can do anything you want to if you just set your mind to it,” “get a grip,” and the supposedly worst one of all, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
While those who rail against such statements are well-intentioned, the result is quite the opposite. Rather than encouraging those with mental conditions, the implied meaning that we can’t rise above a certain level of mediocrity only feeds self-loathing, low self-esteem and the feeling that we can’t change our lives.