If “I believe you” are the three most powerful words you can say to someone with an invisible illness, four of the hardest or most painful words to absorb—whether they are said directly or communicated indirectly through insensitive behavior—are “I don’t believe you.” And yet, people who live with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders hear them over and over and over again from family members and friends.
“How do you keep from getting resentful?” a reader asked me the other day.
I wish I had four simple instructions to make friends and family comprehend the kind of handicaps that don’t come with a parking spot, or at least, be empathetic toward those that are plagued by them. However, some confusion and ache is inevitable because some people are simply incapable of understanding. Here are a few things that help me to remain a kind, well-adjusted member of society in the face of ignorance.