3 posts tagged “tips from mental health patients”

“This’ll make you feel better!” Testing advice from people who don’t have depression

Posted 2 months ago by

Martha Mills, a writer for The Guardian, candidly wrote a piece called “’Just go for a run’: testing everyday advice for depression,” where she reviews tips that people unfamiliar with depression have offered her to “keep the blues away.” Check out her assessment of different kinds of advice, plus hear what the PatientsLikeMe community has said about mental health–related tips from the peanut gallery.

Common pointers put to the test

Why did Martha take on this experiment? In her own words: “Being especially practiced at denial, I decided that I, a mere mortal with a solid history of depressive episodes since childhood, could fake my way out of this oncoming tsunami of debilitating black fog using the advice that people who have never experienced depression trot out – an experiment that could surely only succeed [sidelong glance to camera]. I would improve my diet and exercise, force myself to take up hobbies, I would ‘soldier on until it passed’ and thrust myself (reluctantly) into social situations.”

To sum up her “review”:

  • Working out didn’t work for her and just made her mind “churn” (although she acknowledged that exercise can be a beneficial part of a treatment plan for many people with mental health conditions).
  • Taking up “fun” and sociable new hobbies like tap dancing and pottery — and forcing herself to go on days when she could barely utter a sentence — felt silly and awful.
  • “Soldiering on until it passes” — by going to work and keeping a social calendar despite her despair — didn’t work either… because her depression doesn’t “pass” without proper treatment.

This exercise in denial (while not recommended) resulted in some important takeaways for Martha, such as how people without serious depression don’t fully understand it, plus how important prescription medications are for her particular treatment plan. While some pointers can be beneficial (combined with treatments that work for you), statements like”just do this” feel out-of touch and may be ineffective.

The community’s experiences

Some of the PatientsLikeMe mental health community have shared about their experiences receiving tips on how they “just” need to do “X” (fill in the blank).

Here’s a look at their comments on the topic:

  • Opening up on social media about your depression and how you’re doing lately can bring on lots of comments, like “get off the meds — try natural supplements” and “get out of bed and exercise,” one member says.
  • “I get angry and even more depressed when people don’t understand and say stupid things to me like ‘just get over it.’ It is so hurtful.”
  • “My mother in law gave me a book that said that people could cure themselves naturally,” says another member. “I threw the book away once I read that someone diagnosed with bipolar no longer had symptoms because they were being treated for hypothyroidism.”
  • “I got very angry when I went to a class about juicing and one of the presenters said people with mental illness would be cured if they just juiced enough.”

What kinds of advice have you received from people who don’t totally “get” serious mental health conditions? Has any of it been helpful? How do you respond to unhelpful/unwanted tips? Join PatientsLikeMe today share your experiences.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.


Living with a mental health condition? See these helpful pointers for your next job interview

Posted 7 months ago by

Unsure of how to navigate that job interview? You’re not alone. Members have exchanged their experiences and strategies here on PatientsLikeMe — from worrying about how to control nervous twitches to advice about not oversharing. Read on for more info about what you need to disclose to your potential employer, and hear how other members get through their interview jitters.

To disclose or not disclose? Sharing your mental health condition

“I’m damned if I’m open about it, and I’m damned if I try to hide it,” writes a person living with schizo-affective disorder in this Fast Company article. Weighing whether to disclose your condition and risk not getting the job against the stress of hiding a condition while performing a job isn’t easy. But Art Markman, PhD, professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, offers some guidance:

While you don’t have to disclose your mental health condition during the interview, Markman recommends that you should at some point set up supports at work for success. To get protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you must tell your employer about your condition to get accommodations before there are any issues. This also enables your employer to structure your job in a way that might reduce stress.

Remember to breathe

Shana Burns, contributor to The Mighty advises dealing with anxiety you might have ahead of an interview by focusing on your breath:

“In through the nose, out through the mouth, count to 10 and slow everything right down. You are tingling because you are breathing too quickly, slow it down, and it will stop. This is a temporary feeling. It will not last forever.”

Burns adds, “Remember that you are OK; distract yourself — however you need to distract yourself, do it, and be kind to yourself.”

4 interview tips from PatientsLikeMe members

1. Overdressing is OK, but try not to overshare

“I have a Doctorate degree in Education. …I tend to want to overshare thinking it will make the interviewer realize that I know a lot about the subject or position. Oversharing things about myself frustrates my friends and family but at least they understand why…. I’m just trying to connect, but it is so out of [whack].”

“I have visible tattoos and piercings. I’m willing to remove a piercing while working if I have to. My tattoos are on my wrists…I plan on wearing long sleeves to the interview.”

2. Gaps in your resume? Practice what you want to say about your work history ahead of time

“I guess it’s a fine line between saying too much and just coming off as smart and enthusiastic…I always have too little to say. In my interview on Monday, the first thing they asked was ‘why aren’t you working up to your education?’ That, and gaps of time off due to illness, make a decent resume look suspicious to employers. I stammered something about ‘illness’ but should have been more prepared. Role playing is a good idea, at least for those painful questions. And I just have to keep doing it (ugh)…”

  • Tip: Speaking of preparing for tough questions, The Muse provides some common interview questions and coaching to how to answer them.

3. Show your interest in the company and the job

“Eye contact is very important. Smile. Sell your good points, you have many.”

“Learn a little bit about the company before going into the job interview (“I learned a little bit about the company going into the job. For example, I worked at Victoria’s Secret. So I learned what my favorite part about the company was. You can be a little cheesy and say things like ‘I love that _______ store remembers its audience. It’s a strong quality of this store to have sizes and styles for every shape.'”)

4. Come with questions (even simple ones)

“Have a question or two prepared for when they ask ‘So do have any questions for me?’ That shows that you are truly interested. They can be simple like what is the dress code or roughly how many hours will you work a week.”

What has your job interview experience been like? Do you have any helpful tips to share? Log in or join PatientsLikeMe and jump in the conversation.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.