How to Manage in the Face of Adversity

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Occasional Contributor

For those of us who suffer from mental health, what are some ways you've found help you when people try to weaponize it against you, or go after your identity, or your skills? 

2 Replies

Right to the hard questions I see, @Christopher Clai :smile:!

 

I am a super visual person, and need "things" to remind me to continue being me. I have some post-it notes and some other pictures or inspirational reminders at my desk to keep me in line (mostly work-friendly, some not so much...). I frequently have to remind myself that as a sensitive person, maybe I am not too sensitive - it might just be that others struggle to deal with their own feelings and experiences when we are feeling down/sensitive.

 

I frequently see folks trying to invalidate us with phrases such as "You shouldn't be so upset about this", "Get over it", "You always seem so touchy about this", "Why are you so serious about this". Let me tell you this - these are NOT ways to talk to folks who have anxiety (or even in general)!

 

One thing that is incredibly hard, but I continually work on day in and day out is setting boundaries. Whether it's work boundaries or in general life boundaries, I just try to keep reminding myself that while it might make me uncomfortable knowing that someone is angry or annoyed at me, it's a normal reaction for people to be annoyed with each other at times, and that's ok. We all have a TON of experience to share and give each other, as well as our organizations. However, we cannot (nor should we) do it all, or fix it all - ensure that others are included to help share the load and/or just listen to you and your concerns. Have the hard discussions, take the growth mindset approach, and remember that your needs are valid!

Reocngising the attack for what it is can be hard - because people who suffer from mental health can be used to gaslighting, both by others and by themselves as well!

 

I've found that it really helps to have a list of accomplishments written down somewhere - things you've achieved, milestones you've passed, awards you've won, recognition you've received, praise that's been given to you. Having that list enables you to go back and refer to it and say "No, I'm not bad at what I do, look at this list - look at what I've done and what people think of me".

In terms of weaponising your mental health - that's harder. I often find it's used as a label, and that certainly does come from speaking out about it. But at the same time, if that means others feel confident and comfortable speaking about their own struggles and mental health issues, or even if it makes them feel better in themselves because they realise they're not alone? It's 100% worth it.

 

I also find that those who weaponise it are likely suffering from mental health of their own and either they don't realise or they're in denial in regards to it. So there is a heavy dose of empathy that comes along with it. Being self-aware enough to recognise when you need help and asking for that help is STRENGTH, not weakness.