The Worst Phrase In The English Language?

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Feeling depressed? ‘Just get over it’ Feeling anxious? ‘Just get over it’

This phase is the last thing a person suffering from a mental health issue wants or needs to hear and is the last thing that someone talking to a person with an issue ever should say. So how is it then that this phrase just get repeated over and over again?

I could not possibly count the number of times I heard this phrase when I was really struggling with anxiety; in those times when I had finally built up the courage to actually try to explain to someone how I was feeling. It’s no wonder it took me so long to seek help when that was all I seemed to get from people.

I can’t remember the number of times I heard it but I do acutely remember how it always used to make me feel. If people could ‘just get over it’ people would, they would do it in a second. However, the simple fact of the matter is they can’t. The worst thing is how the phrase can make you believe that anyone else ‘would’ just get over it, and do ‘just get over it’ all the time. It makes you think that you are the only one in the entire world, who for some reason can’t do it and are, therefore, beyond all help.  

It just makes things worse and for my life, I cannot imagine any situation in which it would actually make things better. The person saying it may as well be saying ‘shut up, I don’t care’, it has the same impact. At least that would be direct and to the point I suppose? There is no doubt this phase has the ability to bring any kind of discussion or conversation about mental health to a screeching halt.

So this leads on to the question, why is it that people keep on saying it? And after pondering this for quite some time, I believe it is down to several things. First of all, I think it comes from a lack of understanding, often coming from a person who may never ‘knowingly’ have suffered from a mental health issue in their lives (a person who had suffered from something, I am sure, would never say it).

They could well believe that a bit like a cold or a physical condition, you will just heal from it with time. Another reason can often be that the person simply does not know what to say to someone with a mental health issue, it is something way over their heads. Though rather than simply listening, they believe they have to say something, they have been asked, after all, so they come out with this ‘one size fits all’ phrase.

I have found that you hear this phrase often from guys who want to sound a bit tough or from people that may not be as in touch with their emotions, so at least in this sense, I suppose, it does kind of depend on who you ask? That said it really shouldn’t but, it just does. Finally, many people find talking about mental health issues very awkward and uncomfortable, like it is taboo or even worse contagious.

Essentially the overuse of this phrase can be put, in large part down to the continuing existence of the stigma that surrounding anything to do with mental health. All the points raised above point to it like a huge neon sign. A lack of understanding and an unwillingness to understand keep this stigma very much alive, unfortunately.

And until this is overcome, things are in danger of staying the same. Of course, we can all play a part in breaking down the stigma and we really should. How? well, we can start by accepting that mental health issues are real and they affect lots of people from a whole range of different backgrounds. Secondly and possibly most importantly, if someone ever approaches us with an issue we can honour them by listening to what they have to say and NOT come out with a simple unhelpful phrase like ‘Just get over it’.     

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