People suffering from depression:
“Stop being so negative!”
“You choose to be sad”
“You don’t even have anything to be sad about”
“There are millions worse off than you, just get a grip!”
People struggling with self-harm:
“You’re just doing it for attention!”
“Those cuts aren’t even that bad”
“You don’t even have a reason to cut/burn yourself”
“You freak! Hide your scars, no one wants to see those disgusting things”
People that attempt suicide/are suicidal:
“You’re so sefish!”
“You don’t care about anyone but yourself”
“Don’t you realize what this would do to your Mum/Dad/Family/Friends. You need to think about other people and not just yourself”
“Just get over it. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and just get on with life”
People suffering from Anorexia Nervosa:
“You’re just doing this to hurt others”
“There are children dying of starvation and you’re just choosing not to eat, that’s so selfish”
“If you don’t start eating you won’t —- (stay over at your friends this weekend, get your allowance, etc)
People suffering from Bulimia Nervosa:
“Ew! That is so gross!”
“Just stop eating too much!”
“I’ll take all your money off you so you can’t buy binge food”
“I’ll lock the bathroom door to stop you purging”
SURVIVORS of Rape, Sexual Abuse, Molestation and Incest:
“You probably asked for it/insinuated it/gave permission”
“You’re lying/I don’t believe you/(s)he wouldn’t do that”
“Just get over it already! It’s in the past!”
“That is so disgusting. Aren’t you ashamed? I wouldn’t tell anyone if I were you…”
Victims of Bullying
“Just stick it out. They’ll give up soon enough”
“Well maybe you’ve pushed them to it”
“Don’t stick up for yourself or tell anyone ‘cause it’ll make it worse”
“Who cares? They’re not even being that harsh… You’re lucky compared to some people!”
Victims of Domestic Abuse
“Maybe you did something to provoke them?”
“Just fight/argue back”
“Get out of there! You’re doing this to yourself the longer you stay there”
“A lot of people have it worse than you…”
Victims of emotional trauma/abuse
“Maybe you should just do as they ask, then they won’t get angry”
“Just ignore them”
“What they’re saying doesn’t matter. Stop letting it affect you”
“You’re just too sensitive”
People struggling with general/social anxiety
“You’re just socially awkward”
“Why would anyone be afraid of that?”
“If you don’t want to hang out with me anymore, just tell me straight! Don’t make up all this crap about being anxious”
“Just get over it!”
Most common ‘insult’ that is misunderstood:
“Attention-seeker” - Ever been called that?
When you’re struggling with any of those things above, or similar things and someone calls you an “attention seeker”, it can be like being stabbed in the stomach and feeling the knife twisting.
After years of people calling me an attention seeker, I will admit that just this week, I was called it and it hurt… But here’s the thing: We are ALL attention-seekers.
Attention is a human NEED. So why do people insist on making us feel guilty about that? Why do people insist on making it out to be a bad thing, that only selfish people seek? Each and every one of us seek, or at least long for, attention.
But when you’re struggling with depression, self-injury, an eating disorder, or any mental health illness, “attention seeker” seems to pop up again and again.
Why does this hurt those people more than it would hurt someone else, if we all seek attention? Because when you have a mental illness, there’s an underlying issue(s) that made it develop. It could be a whole bunch of contributing factors, or just one thing so huge, that they have to reach out for it, in any way they can, in order to survive.
I need you to just stop for a moment, and think about those times when you’ve needed attention. The times you’ve been angry and needed someone to rant to. The times you’ve been sad and needed someone to tell you it’ll all be okay. The times you’ve felt alone and desperately needed someone to spend time with you.
What if, in the very midst of those strong feelings, someone called you an “attention seeker” and told you to just get over it? What if you’d spent years upon years dealing with things on your own, and the moment you broke the silence and had the courage to speak out about your suffering, someone told you to “sit down and shut up, and stop seeking attention”. Can you just imagine what that would do?
Now imagine that happening to someone who has already been starved of love, doesn’t know acceptance, has never heard encouragement, never experienced trust, or is just in so much inner turmoil that they feel they need someone to listen and notice they’re struggling, and someone tells them to keep their mouth shut because no one cares.
I just want you to know that “attention seeker” needs to stop being an insult.
We ALL need attention: it’s just a basic human need, and right, that we receive it - in a positive way, of course.
I need you to realize that by using that as an insult, you’re stripping the already-vulnerable and hurting of their courage and strength to speak out and receive help. You’re pushing them into their silent suffering even further. Those two simple words could result in another scar on someone’s skin, another day without food, or another life lost.
Don’t ever, ever underestimate the power of your words.
Words are more powerful than any of us will ever be able to comprehend.
So today, I’m asking that you use your powerful words to spread love, encouragement and hope instead of encouraging self-hate.