• Kristina Cherep

A Dangerous Phrase To Tell Someone Who Is Struggling

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

“Grow up”

No matter what someone is going through, telling them to grow up is probably the last thing they need to hear. Whether they are crying over a lost loved one or having an anxiety attack over a sudden change in plans. Unless you have walked every mile in their shoes, you have no right to say something like that. So basically you never have that right.

It may make you feel superior to them or more mature by telling them that, but do you really need to make someone who is already struggling feel even more inferior? Give me one example where this saying is used in a mature and compassionate way.

Saying this to someone with regards to them having a mental illness is not only rude, but can also be extremely dangerous. Possibly life threatening. Their struggles are valid and real whether you can physically see them or not. Same goes for someone who doesn’t suffer from a mental illness; everyone has their own hidden struggles!

Telling someone to grow up discredits their struggles, their thoughts, their emotions, and their mental illness if they have one. If they don’t have an understanding that their struggles are real and it’s not just a matter of them needing to grow up, it may make them want to even discredit themselves. In other words resort to things such as self harm and possibly suicide.

If someone suffers from anxiety attacks or suicidal thoughts or any other mental illness symptom, it’s not a matter of them needing to grow up. It’s a matter of them needing support and understanding.

Recently I was told to grow up after I had an anxiety attack which frustrated me and quite frankly pissed me off. I then realized there was a huge misunderstanding about what they thought having an anxiety attack was. People who have anxiety attacks don’t just decide to have an anxiety attack when they don’t get their way. It’s not them acting out or looking for attention. Or being too dramatic or sensitive. They have a mental illness. It’s an ILLNESS.

So at first I was angry and frustrated for being misunderstood and disrespected. Then I felt a rush of sadness. Not for myself, but for those people who get told something like “you just need to grow up” when they’re struggling and believe that that’s true. This is what inspired me to write this blog post; for those people to know that their struggles are REAL and that they deserve to be respected and not mistreated.

I’ve heard so many stories about the nasty things people say to those with a mental illness or those struggling in general. People have shared these kinds of stories with me via Instagram, text, Facebook, and even while I was in my hospitalization group therapy sessions. How these words actually spiraled someone to the point of hospitalization and even attempted suicide. I would respond to them with compassion and understanding even though I had never been told something similar to what they were told. I felt so sad and angry for them, but at the same time lucky to never have been in that type of conversation with someone. I guess that’s why I never really made a blog post about this until now. Until it happened to me. And I am so sorry it’s taken me this long to share something like this.

Luckily, when I was told to grow up, my mental health was at an okay place even with me being post partum. It was my first anxiety attack in a little over a month since my last. The last time being was when I was in the NICU with my son. When I am struggling I can have multiple anxiety attacks everyday, so that’s what I mean by saying my mental health was at an okay place. Relative to what it could’ve and has been in the past.

But what if I was truly in a not so great place? Even though I have learned, through therapy, that I don’t just need to “grow up”, I still do have a mental illness. So when my thoughts are negative they will grab onto a saying like that. To reinforce and confirm that the negative thoughts I have about myself are true. That’s where it can get dangerous. When you’re stuck in the loop of negative thoughts. Luckily, I was able to stop the loop. However I did start to get to the point of having suicidal thoughts. I think having this understanding before being told to “grow up” helped save me from spiraling down.

What happens to those who don’t have this understanding or aren’t able to stop the loop? That’s what makes me so sad. I wish that anyone struggling has this understanding somewhere in their thoughts. So they can latch onto that when they feel like they’re about to fall overboard.

It hurts me to know that people get told these types of things every day. It hurts me even more to know that some of these people believe these cruel statements and it leads them to a dark place. I want to help spread this understanding, so it can hopefully help atleast one person. If you are struggling and reading this, know that your struggles, no matter what they are, are REAL. And true. And not just something you’re making up. You’re not “just being too sensitive” or “upset about not getting your way”, or whatever else someone may tell you!

No one has the right to tell you how you are feeling. No one has that right except for YOU. They are your feelings. Your thoughts. And your struggles.

If you are someone who somebody comes to with their struggles, PLEASE be there. Not to question or belittle them, but to listen. Listen to what they are feeling and ask how you can help them. This is just another way we can help reduce the stigma behind mental health and reduce the suicide rate.