Skip To Content

    People Are Sharing Misconceptions Other People Have About Their Mental Illness, And It's Honestly So Disheartening

    "Describe your symptoms to someone and see how sad they are for you — until you tell them it's ADHD."

    Content warning: This post contains descriptions of disordered eating, depression, suicidal ideation, and various other mental illnesses.

    Hollywood provides us with false information about mental illnesses all the time, perpetuating incorrect and harmful stereotypes that make it harder to progress as a society.

    Recently, Reddit user u/Long-Kaleidoscope-11 asked the question, "What is a common misconception people have about your mental illness?" And the responses prove just how important it is for people to have access to accurate mental health information through mental health awareness:

    1. "I’m bipolar. Because of media and stigma, people often assume I’m this crazy bitch who will want to be your friend one moment and kill you the next. In reality, I live a relatively normal life in spite of being bipolar."

    u/Porchprophet


    2. "While my OCD isn't that bad, I cringe when people think it's 'quirky' or 'interesting.' I fucking hate having to check every lock in the house ten times a day. It's excruciating and exhausting."

    u/BlowStiffCock9000

    3. "People with ADHD do not have the same reaction to stimulant meds as a person without ADHD. Most people are completely shocked when I tell them that I take Adderall because I am such a quiet, calm person. It’s usually followed up with a 'man, if I took those meds I would be scrubbing the ceiling with a toothbrush' type comment."

    u/Tihsdrib

    4. "Depression isn’t sadness. It’s all the levels of sensation, motivation, and satisfaction being turned down. Sure, people will get like that after a terrible loss, and they can come out the other side, but when it’s caused by a literal flaw in the brain, you can’t reason or socialize yourself out of it any more than you can reason or socialize yourself into an extra six inches of height."

    a woman sitting at the edge of the bed, her back toward the camera

    5. "As a recovered anorexic, I would say the worst is when people assume that having an eating disorder is intentional, and it's all a vanity thing and just about looks. It's never actually about food when you dig a little deeper, psychologically."

    "While I was in recovery, people assumed that just because you're finally gaining weight you must somehow be instantly and completely cured with no lasting effects on your relationship with food. Eating disorders are one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized mental illnesses, and hearing the way some people talk about it so ignorantly makes me furious."

    u/tinyviolinn

    6. "Very few people take ADHD seriously. They just laugh and say 'ooh, look, something shiny!'"

    "ADHD is not the inability to focus, it's the inability to control what you focus on. I could wind up scrubbing all the molding of my home this weekend because I've got a hyperfocus going on. Conversely, I could get in massive trouble at work because my brain literally will not allow me to write the report I need to have done on time. There's a little game we in the community do. It's called 'describe your symptoms to someone and see how sad they are for you until you tell them it's ADHD.'"

    u/RKO-Cutter

    7. "Just because I have mediocre antisocial (sociopathic) tendencies, doesn't mean I am evil or manipulative. Yes, I have certain thoughts, feelings, and cravings that I shouldn't have. That doesn't mean I go around manipulating everyone and making them suffer. We do have feelings, even if they are not as strong or not as many. I do selfless things! I have more cognitive empathy than most! I am a person, too!!!"

    u/ThinkingIsAnIllness

    8. "That we [people with Dissociative Identity Disorder] are all serial killers."

    an overlay on a photo making it look like two people

    9. "That autism looks the same in everyone. Like, I can't be autistic because your sister's best friend's nephew's kid is autistic, and I'm nothing like him. Autism presents differently in everyone, and many of us face struggles you won't ever see."

    u/Marca19


    10. "That I'm just lazy. No, I'm not. Some days I struggle to get out of bed, let alone clean my whole room in one day (thanks, mom, for giving me the hardest task for someone with depression...in my experience that is)."

    u/Masarakingkin

    11. "That OCD is like 'Oooh I need my books organized by color!' No. It’s intrusive thoughts about the worst things — rape, murder, and the like — that you can’t get rid of unless you perform a ritual."

    "It’s sleeping on the couch for two years because you aren’t clean enough to sleep in your own bed without taking two showers, and you’re exhausted from trying to make it through the day. It’s washing your hands until the skin cracks open and bleeds, and then washing them even more because now you have open wounds you’re trying to keep clean. It’s humiliation in front of your coworkers as you have to put on gloves to touch something they could easily touch bare-handed. It’s not being able to do any of the careers you’d be good at otherwise. It’s the heaviest burden I have ever carried."

    u/12121redblackgo

    12. "That people with hyperactive/non-hyperactive ADHD can’t be academically successful because of their struggles."

    people in a classroom and a man looking out the window

    13. "If I change my diet, way of thinking, join a church and just focus on the positive, my depression will stop. If I exercise, eat well, cut out caffeine, and go outside, I will be magically cured!"

    u/bitterherpes

    14. "ADHD should really be renamed. It’s not a deficit; it’s an inability to control attention."

    "I built wild, complicated things in high school — pure focus — in the garage. I did my homework. I cleaned my room and mowed the lawn. It wasn’t like a dog that sees, 'squirrel!' and gets distracted every moment. It’s more like, I thought I had a really productive day. Then the next morning I find out I did the wrong homework assignment, I was supposed to weed and mulch, not mow, there are two exams I forgot about, and I don’t have my swimsuit for a big swim meet."

    u/ThinkIGotHacked

    15. "When you say you're bipolar, people are quick to equate you with whatever bi-polar person they already know, or a representation they've seen in the media, and think that that's approximately your experience, too."

    "While many people with a bipolar diagnosis can share commonalities, each experience can be incredibly varied. It's just an 'umbrella' diagnostic tool that should primarily be used by medical professionals. I don't even bother sharing my diagnosis because even among medical professionals they tend to overgeneralize."

    u/rosencranzand

    16. "That because I have depression, I'm always sad. People don't seem to realise that I can still laugh and still have fun."

    group of friends having dinner

    17. "I have been struggling with anorexia for years. I was considered 'recovered' and 'fixed' for a year and then my mother took me out of therapy and was surprised when I relapsed late last year. My relationship with food & my weight & control doesn’t magically get fixed when I’m in recovery. It never really goes away."

    "It takes time and effort to even get to a point where I’m eating a healthy amount of food each day. I’m in recovery again but it’s so frustrating when people think stuff like that!!! Eating disorders are an addiction!!!"

    u/Porchprophet


    18. "Within bipolar disorder, people think mania is just being a little wacky. But in reality, last time I was manic, I spent $400 on baseball cards (which I cancelled because I don’t even like collecting baseball cards)."

    "I also tore apart my entire room and kitchen trying to rearrange it. It’s constant restlessness, impulsivity, and perfectionism when you’re manic.

    u/Porchprophet


    19. "People always make mental illness out to be a disease, and it pisses me off. As an autistic person, I fucking despise how people view us as the media depicts us. Antisocial geniuses, poorly-groomed dumbasses, psychos who obsess over things. We're not all like Sheldon or Chris Chan. We're not all like Rain Man or Music."

    u/ChrissysGirl666

    20. "That anxiety is just worrying. It's not. It's deep and intrusive critical thoughts I cannot control that stop me from doing things."

    close up of a person laying down staring at the ceiling

    21. "I have anorexia and depression. A lot of time, people don’t realise that they played into each other a lot. Not eating was a long-term suicide plan. I was depressed because I hated myself, which fed into hating my body. It’s this endless loop."

    "While I’m better now, I still have to consciously stop myself from going back into those thought patterns. Also, with anorexia my mum used to say looking too thin isn’t attractive anyway. But, it wasn’t just about looking good, I was genuinely repulsed by any kind of fat. It was a phobia that made me feel sick, but only applied to my own body."

    u/elenaferrantefan

    22. "Anxiety isn't always about being scared or emotional. Sometimes I'm unaffected by things I should be, and it's just because preemptive anxiety already tired me out."

    "Example: being unable to cry at a funeral because your anxiety anticipated that death every day, and when it finally happened you have no energy left to properly grieve."

    u/mysterious_greenbean

    23. "That PTSD is just mental. I would physically shake and my body would stop moving. I had no control over my body. It’s terrifying all over again."

    u/Ptsdwitch

    24. "That I can just 'get over' my anxiety, and that it's not a big deal."

    someone standing tensely with their hands locked together in a dark room

    25. "Not everyone with ADHD is hyper. There are three types of ADHD: 1) primarily hyperactive, 2) primarily inattentive, and 3) combined. I, myself, am primarily inattentive and have a really hard time listening to what others are saying without thinking of something else in my head (even on meds)."

    u/Tihsdrib

    26. "That I'm only smart because I'm autistic. Bitch, I'm smart because I work hard and am naturally blessed with being a genius. My autism is completely irrelevant to the discussion."

    u/AtomDoctor

    27. "That flashbacks are always like being in the traumatic moment again, and that we're not aware of our actual environment. For most people with PTSD, flashbacks are more like depersonalization/derealization."

    u/slaywhatyouwant

    28. "That therapy somehow magically fixes mental issues. Going to the doctor when you have a cold is different than going to the therapist when you have a mental illness. Mental illness is likely something you'll deal with for life. You're just taught how to cope with it. There's usually no 'fixing' it."

    an older couple on a video call with family

    What other things do people get wrong about mental illness? Tell us in the comments.

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity. 

    The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.

    The National Eating Disorders Association helpline is 1-800-931-2237; for 24/7 crisis support, text “NEDA” to 741741.