"Just pull yourself together" - What do you say to people who can't understand why you are feeling the way you do?

Hi all,

I have been feeling persistently low for at least two months now, and I think this is because I am unsure about what occupation to take up, being hindered by a lack of confidence as well as my recent history of psychosis and schizophrenia. I know that no one can really help me with this issue, and that I will have to try and take up some voluntary work to perhaps enhance my experience and boost my cv. I feel slightly trapped because I am stuck in a master's degree programme that I am not doing well in and the pressure is too much for me. So I am feeling incredibly low and bogged down by pressures that I cant control. My family keeps telling me to "pull yourself together", and I have exhausted myself trying to do just that.

I just want to know how to respond to my family when they persist in pressuring me into fake smiles. How do you respond? What sorts of things can you say?

5 Replies

  • Hi

    I'm sorry about your mental health history, that must leave you feeling a lack of confidence but actually the fact that you are still coping suggests you are very strong and are doing well to have managed to cope. Are you getting any support for the aftermath of the illness? There is support out there via organisations like Mind and also via your student counselling service as well as the local mental health team who may have a support group for recovering patients. Also the hearing voices organisation can be useful for some people.

    Why not gently tell your family the truth - that you don't feel like smiling when you are feeling low, that you feel angry when they suggest you should smile and make them happy instead of them supporting you in how you are feeling and that what you actually want from them is for them to accept how you are feeling and share that with you? Do you know what you feel low about and are you able to talk with your family about that? If feeling low goes back a long way then are you able to think about when the low mood started and how you felt then? If you can perhaps write about that and share those feelings with someone, a friend or counsellor if not a member of your family, that may help you.

    In terms of the MS course - do you want to be doing it or would you rather be doing a different course? If the latter than talk with student counselling and your tutor and see whether you can transfer to a course you prefer, if it's too late for that then grit your teeth and think that in a few months you will be finished and think what you would like to do next, another course or PhD?

    In terms of occupation, talk with student counselling and also see the students union about career advice as you certainly don't have to be thinking about that issue on your own.

    It is hard having had an experience of mental illness but there is no reason why it should ruin your life. I have a friend whose daughter also had psychoses whilst at Uni and she went on to have a good work history and is now married with two children, happy and settled in life. If you can view the mental illness as a cry for help at the time rather than a weakness that may help. Do you know what feelings led up to the breakdown and have you managed to share them with someone? Meds are great for dealing with symptoms but sharing feelings helps more in the long term, so do seek support from a counsellor at Uni or locally via your town mental health service.


  • I cannot answer any better than Sue has, except to say I hope wat she says helps.



  • Hi there, I too agree that Sues advice is great, no point reinventing the wheel. Is there any way that you Dr. could have a chat with your family about how to cope with you and their way of relating to you needs to change.

    Maybe you need to take a bread from intense study, talk it over with a good freind.

    Nothing stays the same for ever.


  • For folks who never feel depressed it must be as confusing as trying to understand a migraine for someone who never gets headaches.

    The only thing I can add to Sues advice might be to make the most of their un-emotion to help out in the practical matters, even if it's something simple like casting an eye over you c.v., or using connections for voluntary/part-time work. Having you take control of your own life , like decisions about work/study might be a big part of what they are tactlessly trying to say.

    If your family is practically minded then present your efforts to tackle the mental health problems in a practical manner, if they see a clear strategy I suspect they will help where they see a solid tangible way of doing so.

    Good luck, remember empathy is on a sliding scale just like depression, some people just do struggle with understanding. A

  • its easy 4 people 2 say pull your,self 2.gether...if only it where that simple...they just dont know what we r going throu....i hate depresstion...id rather break both my legs as i no in the end they will heal...you need 2 sit your family down and make them listen 2 you...tell them 2 carry a big bag of rocks on there backs 4 a week...then ask them how they felt....its a pain when your family dont listen...it seems the only people who under.stand us is people who suffer mental health problems....thank god we have each other...keep your cin up and all you can do is your best...

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