Unsolicited advice (when there is no help or when treatment hasn’t worked)

All too often, I’ve seen people dish out unsolicited advice to those suffering from mental health problems and loneliness, usually along the lines of “Seek professional help” or “Call the suicide hotline number” or “Check yourself into hospital”.  While this may be appropriate advice to give to someone who is in legitimate danger or is new to the game in terms of seeking treatment, most of us just want someone to listen and not abandon us, rather than give us ‘solutions’, many of which we’ve either tried or are unavailable to us due to where we live or due to insufficient income to be able to afford proper treatment.

As for loneliness and social isolation, I’m disappointed that the general consensus of many is that we should accept it and learn to love ourselves instead.  This might work for some people, but human beings are a social species and loneliness and social isolation are very bad for most people, as multiple studies have proven beyond shadow of a doubt.  The people who’ve given me unsolicited advice on the subject have generally been people who weren’t lonely at all and had never dealt with prolonged social isolation or marginalization from society.

People who’ve never experienced severe mental illness or have only experienced milder forms of mental illness fail to understand than for many of us, there simply isn’t any help , or the help we received failed to sufficiently lessen our symptoms.  And many people who have recovered sufficiently enough from mental illness to lead productive and fulfilling lives usually didn’t do so alone, as they hsd love and support or something or someone to live for, such as children or a partner or simply passion for life that their illness hadn’t robbed them of.

Therefore, I am about to list some of the most common forms of unsolicited advice that I’ve received, along with my response to each of them:, so that I can refer to this blog entry whenever I’m given unsolicited advice;

  1. You need to talk to a therapist”.  I’ve been in one form of therapy or another since I was 13 years old (just over 20 years, if you must know).  I’ve seen multiple therapists,  psychologists and school counselors in my time and in all that time, little healing took place, although my last therapist was at least able to help me understand how trauma has affected my brain.  And as of now, here in Lincolnshire, England, I cannot even get a referral and I’ve been told that even if I did, the wait time on the NHS would be months or even over a year.  As with many people who are mentally ill, I cannot afford to pay for a private therapist.
  2. “You just need to find the right medication”.  I’ve been on one form of antidepressants or another since 2001 and none of them have helped, in fact some made matters worse and the withdrawal symptoms of some of them was worse than cocaine withdrawal.  I’ve been on SSRIs, benzos (which at least helped with my anxiety) and even antipsychotics,
  3. “Go volunteer somewhere”.  I love it (sarcasm) when people advise those of us struggling with loneliness and mental health problems to volunteer, as if it’s that easy.  I have severe social anxiety and I struggle to do basic things involving being around others, such as going to the grocery store or riding a bus,  If I can’t work (which I can’t) then I can’t volunteer either, for the same reasons.  I did look into volunteering opportunities near me, but pretty much all of them required social skills that I do not have.
  4. “The more you try something, the easier it will get”.  Exposure actually doesn’t work for me in many aspects of life, especially when it involves being around people.  For example, I am afraid of riding buses, but even if I were to ride 10 buses a day, it wouldn’t make me any less terrified and self-conscious.  I’m afraid of children and teenagers and if I’m living in a place where there are a lot of families, my fear gets much worse, as opposed to if I lived in an area that was mostly single people and childless couples, where I might see the odd child or teenager here and there.  Many times, what happens with me is that regular exposure to something I’m afraid of just results in more trauma.
  5. “Stop comparing yourself to others (we all have problems)”.  Believe it or not, I don’t consciously compare myself to other people, it’s just that by being around others, my mind torments me with it and I have little control over such thoughts, except to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.  I feel like I am constantly reminded of what I’m missing out on and what I’ll never have whenever I go out or whenever I watch television or even a fictional show or film.  I also know that everyone has problems from time to time, but most people have a life that’s worth enduring and overcoming those problems for, rather than the piece of shit existence that I have.  Besides, knowing that other people might be suffering doesn’t make me feel better about my own suffering.
  6. “Try going to a support group”.  Firstly, there are no support groups where I live and the nearest one us in Nottingham, which is too far for me to go to on a regular basis, especially as many of their meetups are in he evenings, which clash with train times.  Secondly (and most importantly), I never do well in group settings.  I will either sit there like a rock and feel awful about myself, or I’ll blurt something out that might be inappropriate or embarrassing and I have a tendency to interrupt people without knowing it at the time.  The last group I went to (the anxiety group in Nottingham) was a total disaster and I didn’t feel welcome at all.  I decided not to go back when I posted something on the group Meetup.com page about how I was feeling, but all I got was (funnily enough) a bunch of unsolicited advice.
  7. Churches are great places to meet people in the community”.  Churches are not great places to meet people when you’re single, childless and transgender and not even religious..  If I were to walk into a church congregation in this town, I’d be about as welcome as a fly buzzing around a picnic.
  8. “You just need to learn to love yourself”.  Listen, I don’t love myself and never will.  Try being born in an ugly body that doesn’t match your gender identity and having people tell you from an early age that you’re ugly, ‘not one of us’,, stupid and a spastic.  Even if were comfortable in my own skin despite all of those things, I could never love myself.
  9. “Stop being so negative; think positive!”.  Believe it or not, I’m not a negative person; I have depression.  I don’t complain, I don’t broadcast my sadness outside of the internet and I can appreciate history and the beauty of nature.  I am neither a negative or a positive person and I don’t believe in that ‘glass half empty / half full’ nonsense, but I do not believe that positive thinking would make any difference to my shitty existence or shitty circumstances..  Please don’t tell me to “think positive” because my brain doesn’t work that way, sorry.
  10. “Check yourself into the emergency department of a hospital”.  No thanks!  The last time someone landed me in the psychiatric emergency department of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital, it was one of the most terrifying and pointless experiences of my life.  I was left on a couch / bench in a hallway and unable to leave for 8 hours before being discharged after I managed to convince the on duty psychiatrist that I was not a danger to myself.  It was a terrifying place and patients were treated as criminals.  I still can’t get the screams of that place out of my head when I sometimes experience flashbacks.  If I were to do the same here in the UK, I would wait for hours just to be discharged or treated like dirt, because the NHS simply doesn’t have the resources thanks to the Tory government not giving it sufficient funding.
  11. “Call the suicide hotline”.  I can’t make phone calls, sorry.  This is partly due to hatred of my male-sounding voice, but also because I find phone conversations extremely difficult, especially if the person on the other end of the phone is a stranger who doesn’t know me at all.
  12. “Pain is temporary, you’ll get through this”.  No, in my case my pain certainly isn’t ‘temporary’ in nature and my desire to end my life never goes away, even on not-so–bad days.  People who make such statements are either people who’ve never experienced treatment-resistant mental health problems or chronic loneliness and social isolation that will literally make you go crazy, even if you’re not already.   I would only say these things to someone who’d lost a relative, because people usually heal after the grieving phase is over.   And many people DO experience positive results from various forms of treatment, but I am not one of those people.

So there you have it; the unsolicited advice that people have given me over the years, which I’ve either tried and failed at or which wouldn’t work in my situation.  I will probably add to the list as I’m sure more examples of unsolicited advice will come to me after I hit ‘publish’.  I don’t need unsolicited advice; I need people who understand me and will stand by me and bear with me.  I need to be able to fit in somewhere in this society.  I need surgery to ix my deformities, which are far more than just ‘cosmetic’..  I need to live in a place where I feel safe and completely unwelcome.  I need love and support, just like anyone else does.

 

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10 Responses to Unsolicited advice (when there is no help or when treatment hasn’t worked)

  1. klodo says:

    I pretty much agree with all of that. In fact i always amazed at how little help there is for most mental health problems which is basically people telling us to do stuff on our own over and over again and demanding we get better and then blaming us when we dont. We all know the NHS is shit and I have not even gone for therapy and have no interest in CBT for anxiety anyway as I cant take more humiliation. I can only imagine the abuse and insults you have got and yet CBT tells us that nobody notice us and and its all in our head!

    It made me actually laugh when you mentioned the support group at Nottingham as thats the nearest one to me too so that means there is only one anxiety meetup group for the whole of the east midlands! My experience of online support forums is not much better and I have only made one contact in 15 years. It feels more like an online mocking group for mentally insane people to put each other down! The talk about reducing suicide rates and yet actually do nothing to solve the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sour Girl says:

      Hey..

      I didn’t realise you were also in the East Midlands.  I only came here because my mum lives here in Grantham, but Grantham has been a bad experience for me and one way or another. I’m leaving.  There is literally no support at all here in Lincolnshire.  The only support there is turned me away because they told me they’re unable to assist with mental health problems aa severe as mine.  As for that group in Nottingham, i didn’t feel welcome and they all seemed nornal functioning and generally just had anxiety.  I went 3 times, but didn’t go back after I got a bunch of unsolicited advice when i tried to reach out for help on the online group page. 

      I despair TBH.

      Liked by 1 person

      • klodo says:

        Me too. Someone got angry at me on here for saying there was no help and yet of the three sites he gave as support the first was only in his area and he had just never realised, the second was only for people who are already homeless and the third bit of advice was that I contact Mind myself and ask for help and yet they have no support groups in my county and only one charity shop. Even on ITV This morning show when they linked to the website for suicide prevention it was only for the Thames valley area and the only other advice was phone the Samaritans. Its a complete farce! Its like people cant handle the truth and just make things up to make themselves feel better.

        I think I have only been to Grantham once so dont know how bad it is but on my only visit to Newark I was taking pictures of the castle and had a group of kids shouting abuse at me and claiming I was a paedo just because I was a lone man with a camera and they had read about men like me in the Sun newspaper which had lots of stories about paedos at the time so shows how easily it is to manipulate kids! As a result I have never gone back!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sour Girl says:

        I’ve never called The Samaritans and never will. I know they’d just mis-gender me because of my voice and give me a bunch of useless advice. If I were about to commit suicide, calling a hotline would be the last thing I’d ever do. And yeah,,,Mind. When I was living in Watford briefly, they were a lot of help, but they no longer operate in Lincolnshire and when I contacted the nearest one in Peterborough, they won’t take anyone from outside the county. I feel like there’s simply no help here at all.

        I’m sorry that happened to you in Newark, but I was also harassed there, only by an adult driving a van who was determined to yell abuse at me. This was near Newark Castle too, near the station there actually. As for kids, I live my entire life around avoiding them at all costs because of the risk of abuse.

        Grantham is a shit small town, worse than Newark and with less to do. To live here, you have to be ‘normal, as in a mombie with 50 kids or a Tory Brexiteer.

        Like

      • klodo says:

        Well it was the home of Maggie Thatcher! I think most towns and cities are getting worse even without Brexit. I am sick of gangs of teenagers and yobbos everywhere I go. I just want peace and quiet.

        Like

      • Sour Girl says:

        I’m moving to Scotland. There seemed to be less of that element there. Grantham is awful, worse than Newark. I only go out during school hours and when i go out, i have to wear headphones and drink to self medicate. I want the same thing as ypu…peace, qhiet, to be left alone and to feel safe and in a place where I might fit in (somewhat)

        Like

      • Sour Girl says:

        I don’t think people really are that serious about actually preventing the SUFFERING that leads to suicide, just the suicide itself by stopping a suffering person from dying and ending their pain through the only means available. I’m really sick and tired of it all…the toxic positivity, complete absence of support, discrimination and t he total isolation of this all.

        Like

      • klodo says:

        Yes, if people really cared about the most vulnerable people in society they would do more to help the homeless as they are the most likely to die early yet they are often ridiculed for not working or trying hard enough, just like most people with mental health.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sour Girl says:

        I know. Even my own family judges me for being unable to work and I’m sure most people would if they knew. I’d like to see them walk in my shoes though and feel what i feel every day.

        Like

  2. Pingback: The ‘rational’ argument in favour of suicide | My Unwanted Existence

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