There may be people in your life who do not understand that you have a mental illness. Well, let’s rephrase that: they might not know how to relate to you because they can’t conceptualize what mental illness is, and how it impacts your life. These folks can include your family members, which makes matters more complex. You want to believe that your family will always be there to love and support you no matter what you’re going through. However, sometimes family doesn’t act this way and it can feel hurtful. This can make you feel like you hate your life but you can get through that feeling. So what do you do when a family member makes you feel bad about your mental illness? Let’s clarify one thing right now:

No one has the right to “make you feel” anything. Your feelings are real because you feel them.

Having a mental illness to cope with is hard enough. When you feel like your family doesn’t support you or understand it can feel excruciatingly painful. But remember that no matter who the people are that don’t get the fact that you’re suffering, your pain is still valid. Your symptoms are real and you have a right to feel your feelings. Nobody can know your pain except for you. They might empathize with what you’re feeling but they don’t know what it’s like to live inside of your head and manage your mental illness. So when someone makes you feel bad about having a mental illness that is about them not you. That is about their limitations, not yours. It is not your job to teach someone how to treat you if they don’t understand what you’re going through. All you can do is be honest about what you’re feeling and how it’s challenging for you to live day in and day out with the mental health challenges you have. Whether those challenges are bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, or PTSD those are all valid.

It’s important to realize when you may need to cut off a toxic relationship. There are people who just will not understand your pain and they will say insensitive things or make you feel guilty for having an illness. You don’t need those sorts of people in your life and it is perfectly acceptable to cut off relationships that make you feel bad about yourself. The people that have the honor of remaining in your life are people who support you and that is how it should be. Even if the people who are making you feel bad or members of your family you do not have to interact with them. Or you can interact with them on a limited basis. Whatever makes you feel the most comfortable and at peace is what you need to do for yourself. Not everybody is going to understand what you go through but you have the choice about who remains in your close circle. We only have one life to live and it is about making that journey as joyful as possible. So stop explaining yourself to people who can’t hear what you’re saying. Live your life to the best of your ability and keep people who get you close.