We've spoken a lot about stigma of mental illness and the hurt we experience from naivety and ignorance. Tolerating this can become a battle ground as we try to develop strategies to overcome it. How do we do this? Well again, we've talked about "equalising" the onslaught based on the notion "a immoveable force is only equalled by an equal and opposite reaction". I agree with this because in the animal kingdom the strongest survive and the weaker, the vulnerable, the mentally ill are usually the victims. We have to strive harder to become less victims and more recognised as individuals. Different doesnt mean inferior.
Enter the part phrase "How would you like it....". EG The common comment we use is "you're too sensitive". When someone tells you that, they are saying a number of things-
- you arent normal in terms of sensitivity
- you should do something about it
- you are intolerable (to them) with your sensitivity.
So a standard answer for me nowadays is "you're too short, can you reduce your height 150mm"? The idea being, just like my sensitivity which I have no control over, their height is fixed! They get a taste of their own medicine.
There is one thing wrong with this countering technique- it comes under the "two wrongs dont make a right" rule. It comes across as nasty and potentially explosive whereas education should be the name of the game.
So, the part phrase "how would you like it if I said you were too tall and can you make yourself shorter"? Effectively you are turning a nasty statement into a question and a question puts the pressure on them to answer it. Another one- "would you feel comfortable if I asked you to be less talkative"?
Some people's assumption is that our symptoms of mental illness is "wrong" whereas we the mentally ill should accept our symptoms is normal for us. The outcome of same could mean eg "you are so moody its intolerable" and answer thus- "do you think moodiness is a bad thing or is it that you live life in a way so stable it might be boring"? You could continue the theme based on the fact that as a moody person with bipolar for example, that you wont take criticism simply on the basis that you, in their mind, dont fit inside the circle of normality.
The most successful combatting techniques are ones that dont escalate the conversations , educate the critic and keep them as friends and family. After all if we upset everyone we talk to about their poor knowledge levels of mental illness we'd be very lonely.