Approaching the Unapproachable

Off Tuesday’s post, how do you approach the subject of mental illness?  How do you ask someone if everything is alright without offending?  The answer: I have no idea….only you do.

I guess I should elaborate on that statement.  The truth is, everyone is different, what may offend me may be no worries to Joe Blow down the road.  Only you know the person you are talking to.  You know the best way to approach the unapproachable.  All I can give insight into is what I’ve found helpful and not so helpful.

One thing that will really make me shut down is having a stranger straight out ask me what happened to my arms, then not accept my answer of “I’d rather not talk about it”.  While I’m passionate about awareness, there is a time and a place……the checkout at Big W is not such a place.  I’m also guarded about it don’t always want to talk about it with every tom, dick and harry.  

If you ask the question, be prepared to listen.  How are you is the most misused question in the entire world.  Unless I know the person, I refuse to answer the question.  How many times have you asked someone how they are but not waited to hear the answer or really taken notice of how they answer the question.  Major Man knows that even when I say I’m good, that that’s not always the real answer. Why? Because he listens to the non verbal cues, which are the most important.

Never, ever undermine the way someone feels.  It’s not a simple case of ‘getting over it’ or ‘trying harder’.  You might not understand what the person is going through but that doesn’t make what they are feeling any less.  

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