I don’t want to be that judgy-preachy person who criticises what other people say. I mean, it can be hard to know what to say when approached by someone in a difficult situation. It’s impossible to always say the right thing – if there even is a right thing. But sometimes the comments of ignorant and/or narrow minded people can hurt. It’s also hard when others don’t understand, or worse, refuse to.
So below are some common phrases people say and also some surefire-100%-foolproof things you can say back to them while appearing witty and intelligent.
To someone with anorexia:
Don’t worry! Just eat and you’ll get better. –> Oh my gosh yes! That’s the cure! Yes, I will go eat and be fine now and recover completely. It’s a shame all those people who died from anorexia didn’t know that they could recover instantly from just eating!
You’re so skinny, I’m so jealous. –> Please don’t say that. With this perceived ‘amazing’ skinniness, your hair falls out, you get a hairy stomach, it hurts to sleep because bones dig into you, people give you weird looks, you feel weak and faint all the time, you get addicted to not-eating, you forget what it feels like to be truly warm, you’re full of self-loathing, you bruise your spine and tailbone from sitting on a chair, you can’t concentrate, you ache, and you lose some friends. So don’t be jealous.
Can you give me any diet tips? I don’t like my stomach. –> Sure, it’s easy! First you have to get rid of your survival instinct, establish a fear of food, and develop a strong sense of self hatred. Force yourself to be cold, punish yourself after eating a meal, make sure you avoid anything nutritious, and pinch any fat parts of your body until they bruise. It’s lots of fun!
But there are children starving in Africa! –> Well go to Africa and help them then! And next time you complain about your uni/school work or job, I will remind you how privileged you are to be able to even have an education/employment!
To someone with binge eating disorder:
But how can you have an eating disorder if you are aren’t underweight? –> The same way a person of any weight can get cancer. The same way humans come in all shapes and sizes. Many people with eating disorders can appear healthy (or overweight) but be extremely ill on the inside.
It’s just a little overeating, don’t worry about it. –> You are getting overeating and binging mixed up. I don’t think a whole tub of icecream and 500g of chocolate and 6 doughnuts past their used by date and someone’s leftovers is a ‘little overeating.’
Ohmigosh I binge all the time, I had two whole pieces of cake the other day! –> See above.
Just eat healthy food and go to the gym! –> That’s like telling a a deaf person to listen harder. Or someone with cancer to just try chemotherapy. It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.
To someone who self harms:
Stop! It’s dangerous! –> I know it’s dangerous, and I would if I could! Unfortunately, you telling me to stop is about as effective as telling a rhino that’s charging you to ‘stop.’
To someone with depression and/or anxiety:
Stop being so selfish. –> (This also is a really hurtful one because generally we are all too aware of the impact we have on others, and often feel like burdens or a waste of space.) Sorry, I can’t. I enjoy being miserable and selfish and making others miserable. It’s my life’s calling.
It’s all in your head. –> So are brain tumours.
Just snap out of it. –> Just snap out of diabetes/cancer/a migraine/ebola.
We all get sad sometimes. –> Yes, but your sadness goes away with time, you lucky bastard. Also, it’s not constantly mixed with a cocktail of hopelessness, grief, exhaustion, guilt, emptiness and loneliness.
Why do you just lie around all day and do nothing? –> Because there is a chemical imbalance in my brain that makes everything extremely hard to do. I didn’t choose this. I wish I could do more. But this is just as real for me as it is for someone who has lost a leg and you are accusing them of moving too slowly.
It could be worse! –> Imagine a mother who has two children and one dies. Tell her that: at least she has one child left! Could be worse!
Cheer up, you have so much going for you. –> (This is quite hurtful because it suggests that we should be ashamed and guilty of our feelings, which we can’t control.) Well, I would cheer up if you weren’t around. (OK so that’s a bit silly but whatever, it’s the internet, I can say what I want. Potato table platypus.)
It’s much more effective and appreciated if you say things like I’m here for you (if you intend to be), let me know how I can help (if you are open to suggestions), I still love you for who you are (for the romantics), I believe and have faith in you, I enjoy spending time with you. Or, if they like talking, you can simply listen. And maybe get a nice big hug out of it all.
‘Til next Thursday! :o)