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‘Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.’ You can’t see depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses physically, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

What could you be depressed about?” or

“What could possibly be so bad about your life?”

These are the most commonly used responses when we address someone who appears offbeat,is upset, sad or depressed. But mind you they may do more harm than help that person concerned. Because they have been asking themselves the same for months, but haven’t found any answer.

The problem is that when Someone shares that ‘I am suffering from a mental illness’, people will often respond with, ‘But you were fine yesterday,’ not realizing that mental health can fluctuate from time to time. Depression may not always be obvious to those around you.

Just because symptoms aren’t physically there when looking at a person struggling does not mean they are not struggling internally.

We should understand that there’s more to a person than what you see physically.

Here I want to stress upon a fact that we don’t usually acknowledge; that mental illnesses are invisible illnesses.

What is Invisible Illness?

An invisible illness is an umbrella term for any medical condition that isn’t easily visible to others. This includes chronic physical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and others — but also mental illnesses.

Living with an invisible illness often leads to judgement and criticism because others believe you look fine on the outside, and therefore must be “making up” or faking your suffering. Infact you wouldn’t even notice if someone you know is suffering from a mental health issue. That’s coz most of these people are high functioning and productive members of our society. They do everything usual in their routine from going to office to spending time with family. However are struggling to overcome stuff they don’t talk about.

Unlike having a condition that’s observable, those with invisible illnesses often face a lack of social awareness and additional mental health stigma. As a result, these individuals often face more skepticism, and are accused of being lazy or moody. When actually they are in serious need of cheering up, calming down, or even being validated.

To complicate matters, mental illnesses, like other chronic conditions tend to be long term and episodic and may vary in severity. They may fluctuate in intensity as well. Some days, weeks, and months go really well, and during others it’s difficult to work, socialize, and function, confusing those around them, who can’t “see” why one day is good and another a great challenge.

It can often feel difficult to know when to disclose specific information about your personal life, particularly experiences that may feel raw or painful to talk about, like living with mental illness.

People should understand that a mental health issue also requires real medical treatment and often can’t be addressed with simple lifestyle changes, as compared to a physical sickness or ailment.

You would not tell someone with say Typhoid or Malaria to just fix it themselves. You would tell them to go to the doctor, take medication, and so on. It should be same with mental illnesses. You should not assume that people should fix these illnesses on their own.

Invisible illnesses are just as real as gravity.”

You cannot see it but we are all subjected to it.

So the next time you come across someone who is struggling to talk about his/her mental health problems, please don’t push it off or invalidate it as something insignificant. It takes a lot of courage to walk upto someone and talk about our difficultie especially related to mental health.

Just Listen To them! Hear them out.

Dont offer instant solutions. Just acknowledge them. Be supportive. Give hope.

Instead of saying things like, “ You’ll be fine. Just think positive!”

Say something like, “I understand what you’re going through. But you are not alone. Together we shall find a way to get you to feel better.”

If you don’t know what to say or do, the best thing would be to encourage them to see a mental health professional or counsellor.

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