Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 1st 2013 Contents can minimise the problem, ignore many
proven medical and psychological treat-
ments and can even make someone
feel like they re not being healed,
because they lack sufficient faith, which
adds insult to injury."
8. "Why can t you work?"
It s no doubt hard to watch someone
who s smart and capable unable to
work. But telling a person who s already
struggling that they re lazy, just making
excuses or aren t trying hard enough
can be incredibly hurtful, Fast said.
She s personally heard the following
before: "I don t see why you have such
a tough time with work. Everyone
works. You need to just get over it and
work." Even just asking a question like
"Why is this so hard for you?" can
make a person wonder what s wrong
with them. They might say, "Why can t
I work? They are right and I am a fail-
ure!" Fast said. "And they will push
themselves too far."
9. "You have the same illness as
Years ago, when Fast s partner Ivan,
who has bipolar disorder, was in the
hospital, she didn t know anything
about the illness. She told her friend
that Ivan had something called "manic
depression." Fast s friend responded
with: "Oh. I know what that is. My
grandfather had it and he shot himself."
A person Fast barely knew told her:
"My uncle has that, but we don t know
where he is!"
"I remember every minute of Ivan
being ill, and I remember those two
comments the most---18 years ago!"
THE RIGHT RESPONSES
While reading this piece, you might
be wondering if you should say
anything at all. "Silence is, in my
experience, the worst response,
because it s generally interpreted in
the negative," Barth said.
According to Howes, these are help-
• "Sincerely express your con-
cern: You re having panic attacks?
I m so sorry to hear that. From what
I ve heard, that can be just awful.
• Offer your support: Please let
me know if you need anything, or
if you d just like to talk.
• Talk to them the same way
you did before, which lets them
know your feelings about them or
respect for them hasn t changed;
your relationship is stable. They re
the same person, just dealing with
an issue that is less visibly obvious
than a broken arm or the flu."
When it comes to mental illness,
people make everything from
insensitive to totally outrageous
comments. When in doubt, Howes
suggested offering "compassion,
support and stability in your rela-
tionship and leaving the advice to
the psychological or medical
experts. "Any advice beyond I hope
you ve found good, caring treat-
ment and come talk to me any-
time can be experienced as intru-
sive and can even cause more
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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• From Page A40
of despair where it s so dark I ve for-
gotten what light looks like," a descrip-
tion of depression that one client gave
to Howes. Feeling anxious isn t the
same as having a panic attack, "a ter-
rifying lightning storm of despair, self-
hatred and the absolute certainty of
my immediate death," he said.
7. "Just pray about it."
Prayer is powerful for many people.
Centering yourself and feeling support
from a higher power can be very help-
ful, Howes said. "But this advice alone
Silence is the worst response
When it comes to
advice beyond 'I
hope you've found
'come talk to me
anytime' can be
intrusive and can
even cause more
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