Have you ever poured your heart out to someone, expecting a hug and a pat on the back, and instead received a “get over it, you big baby”? Yeah, same. Yet, we’re resilient beings. Many, if not all of us, have experienced a big-oof like this. So come: read, share, discuss, laugh, cry, commiserate. We’re not alone.
“I am currently dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder and mild anxiety. My dad told me to ‘Just repress it. If you push everything down, then you never have to deal with it. Problem solved!’ It would’ve been better if he’d just told me it’s important to embrace ‘feeling bad’ in order to work through your stuff. Only by making yourself feel it can you come out the other side.”
“Honestly, [I personally think] advice doesn’t help nearly as much as just offering support. Letting someone know that [you’re] struggling and [having that person] see how hard [you]’re trying is way more helpful than recommending they meditate (yay, sit with your obsessive thoughts in silence for ten minutes!) or some other cliche. The work has to come from you, so other people can’t do it for you.”
“I gave the HR department at this place I worked a 20 minute recording of my boss yelling at me as a bullying complaint. They said it wasn’t enough to warrant intervention and gave me some generic mindfulness exercises.”
“I was rediscovering traumatic memories from my childhood. I had never gone to therapy before so I decided to see the UoA counsellor. I asked for a female counsellor as I thought she might be understanding of SA. I was just about to talk to her about my experience [when] she put her hand up in my face and said ‘you need to stop there, here’s a website where you can find other people to talk to about SA. Is there anything else?’ I would rather she’d simply said: ‘I’m very sorry you went through this as a child. I can refer you to a professional or someone who is more experienced in this matter?’”
“I had severe depression [at the time], and I went to a counsellor through EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) and they said ‘sounds like you think too much. Have you tried just thinking less?’ Literally anything would be better than that! Mental health advice can help a lot, but it needs to be from people who know what they’re talking about, not just well-intentioned [by-standers].”
“I was overwhelmed with stress, struggling with balancing work and University after lockdown, and feeling unable to take care of myself in my day-to-day life due to a complete lack of motivation. A mental health nurse available for a same day appointment told me ‘you’ve got good things going on in your life, so it doesn’t look like you’ve got a lot to be stressed about.’ I’d rather get any sort of support for lessening stress in my day-to-day life.”
“My mental health was low, [I was] on variety of medication, [and my] doctor knew this was an ongoing problem.
I said I was getting headaches on top of everything else, so my doctor pointed out my weight and said that must be the reason. Didn’t talk about my medication, my anxiety, or ask about any recent changes. Basically [he] fat-shamed me and made me leave in tears, with my mental health much worse. I’d rather he’d given me some actual advice, [and] check[ed] on my mental health, and [had] some understanding that being bigger isn’t always the root cause.”
“Mental health is important to be aware of, but also be aware of how your mental health impacts others. Asking if people are in the right space to hear things, talking about issues, and addressing things in a supportive way makes all the difference.”
“I had anxiety causing dizziness, panic attacks, and [a] very foggy brain. A GP told me ‘you’re a Type A person. You need time to chill.’ [I later found out about] grounding techniques… through friends and social media. Those techniques are extremely common and actually addressed my symptoms instead of, you know, making me feel crap.”
“I think that more drastic, radical change could come from upping the funding of mental health services and strengthening social security nets.”
“I was an anxious mess. I just had my first panic attack and was very not cool at the time. [A] University counsellor said that I probably have anxiety but I don’t need to come back. They told me that breathing exercises may help in the future. It would have been really nice if they could have told me what I could do to manage my anxiety [to be honest]. Like, it made me anxious [that] she told me I had [anxiety] and then I had no idea what to do next. I still don’t and it’s been several months. We need more therapists in NZ. And advice on how to actually find a therapist, and get diagnosed properly etc.”
“My family had just experienced a murder- suicide of close family friends and I was really struggling to come to terms with it. The Uni Emergency Counsellor told me to try interpretive dancing to get through and process the images running through [my] head. [I’d] probably [have preferred] real ways to deal with intense trauma, or at least be pointed in the direction [of] someone who could help.”
“Mental health advice, when given properly, saves lives. When mental health is dismissed, or judged, it can cause further lasting trauma. If the person isn’t able to support you successfully, they should point you in the right direction and not just send you on your way.”
“[My mood was] pretty low. [I was] struggling with daily tasks and looking after myself. I was living alone [during] lockdown in Melbourne last year. My mum and lots of friends told me I should just knock on people’s doors and make friends if [I was] lonely (I lived in student accommodation that was self-sufficient so no shared spaces).”
“I think I just wanted people to stop giving me advice and talk to me as if we were actually hanging out together. Talk about random things we would normally talk about to feel a bit normal.”
“I think the university could have done more to connect us with people and allowed for more interaction in student accommodation for students who couldn’t go home. I get that there needs to be bubbles and safety but student accomodation is the most isolating thing when the amount of people is too much to create bubbles. I think in this situation advice [isn’t] helpful, you can’t do much about [lockdown] so more support [is needed] in other areas to connect people. “
“I got yeeted by a car and was struggling with school and life. Uni health and counselling said ‘A warm cup of tea before bed will help with your depression and anxiety around leaving the house.’ I would’ve probably liked decent advice, not just: ‘drink tea?’ [Don’t worry] I see a real psychologist now.”
“I convinced myself I was a burden on the planet and was [a] waste of oxygen. AKA I had horrible self-esteem issues (due to childhood abandonment) and terrible eco-anxiety. I wanted to go to counselling to find advice to improve my self-esteem because I was struggling a lot. A high school counsellor said ‘You’ve come here looking for quick solutions but this isn’t something you can fix quickly, your self-esteem will improve as you get older.’”
“I wasn’t looking for a quick fix, and I was very aware that self-esteem would be an ongoing focus in my life. I was also not willing to continue in constant sadness and anger until a hypothetical period where I would suddenly forget about it?? Very unlikely to happen.
I would have preferred some concrete ways to make small improvements to my self-esteem (which do exist!!!). And also a conversation about what circumstances led me to develop a core belief that I was worthless. Ultimately, anything other than the notion that there was nothing I can do, and that because everyone has self-esteem problems to some degree there was nothing I needed to fix.”