What to Say to Someone With Mental Illness
What you should say: Can we agree that you haven't been sleeping well lately? Maybe we should schedule a visit with the doctor. Want me to make the call?
The difference: "It's not at all unusual for people to be completely sick yet unaware that they're having symptoms of a mental illness," says Rudorfer. "By definition, a delusion is a false idea that a person believes to be true despite evidence that it's not. And people who don't want to be helped often resist well-meaning efforts. In that case, meet them where they are—appealing to what they do recognize can be a good place to start."
What you want to say: Did you take your meds? Did you take your meds? Did you take your meds?
What you should say: Can I help you set up a pillbox so you can easily remember what to take and when?
The difference: Repeatedly asking anyone the same thing can quickly drive them away, and the risk is even greater when you're dealing with someone in need. Finding ways to help that don't require you to assume the "parent" role can lessen tension.
What you want to say: You have no reason to be depressed!
What you should say: If you and your therapist agree, I think it would be helpful if I came to one of your sessions so I can get a better handle on what you're dealing with.
The difference: It's important to recognize what's part of the person's illness and what's not. Your loved one's therapist can likely help you get clarity. Tagging along to a therapy session can give a therapist the chance to convey that it's "not her fault" or that he isn't "in bed all day because he's lazy."
What you want to say: Snap out of it already!
What you should say: It won't always be like this.
The difference: Providing hope is your number one priority, especially with someone who suffers from depression. "With depression, one assumes it will last forever," says Rudorfer. "During those dark moments, offer realistic optimism and support. You don't have to be their therapist, but you can drive them to their next appointment."