Are you able to recognise good advice when it’s given?, I’m not entirely sure, you see there are so many opinions that abound around mental health even from the professionals it’s hard to differentiate between professional and personal and just plain bad.
Here are two trains of thought, I was once told by a therapist, that if I smiled more and tried to be happier, that it would ease my symptoms, how she didn’t notice that my eyebrows practically vanished from my face they were raised so high, I just sat there, no longer hearing her voice, thinking if I had something to smile about I would…. and after six years or so of training that was the best she could come up with.
We’ve all had the “get a grip,chin up, look on the bright side”, and when that fails to “what have you got to be depressed about?”
This advice comes from people who don’t listen and/or have no idea that mental health affect everybody it’s a real live illness, so when they look into their crystal ball they come up with all kinds of stuff to “help you” unfortunately none of it relevant to your condition, and what is does help you to do is keep quiet about it.
A colleague told me a few weeks ago, that I think too much, spend far too much time reading and therefore not in touch with the real world, and that everybody has problems and I shouldn’t wallow, so to amuse myself I asked her what should I do, she thought about this for oh lets see 1 minute, and came up with this sage piece of advice:
Stop thinking so much
find a boyfriend
get out and enjoy life
I opened my mouth to explain, then stopped she would never get it, and I’m strong enough now to realise how dangerous her thinking is, in that she will give this advice to someone else and not have an inkling as to what effect that will have on that person and going forward their general well-being.
My colleague isn’t an unkind person, she just doesn’t understand because she never listens to what isn’t being said, in fact no emotional intelligence at all, and to try to explain, would be as much use as a chocolate teapot.
Therefore I do wonder about advice given not just by friends/family but also by professionals who all seem to sing from a different hymn book, which makes discussion daunting.
Saying all of this I’m not good at taking advice, I think I have an inherent distrust of people knowing too much about me, I’m quite naturally gregarious, but a closed book at the same time, which I’m working hard at trying to be more open and taking on board advice that is given, though it’s still hard because I like to think I’m very much in control of my life when clearly in many areas I am not.
Giving and receiving advice is a minefield and not to be taken mildly people wear masks for a reason, which gives the parable of Dorian Gray that there is something behind it that is so full of despair that you cannot bear to have anyone one look at it even yourself.
To conclude I do all those things my collegue says, (except getting a boyfriend) just to function and each day as my recovery continues they do gather more meaning, it’s not that we don’t try, sometimes were unable to.