I Can Fix This

Lies We Believe About Ourselves and Others

Day Three: I Can Fix This


If you’re living with someone with mental illness, it’s tempting to think you can fix it. Or that the person you love should be able to fix it. Or that we the sick can fix it. It’s a lie to think this, though an understandable one.

One of the biggest sources of conflict I’ve noticed with the friends and couples I’ve talked to always surrounds the thought patterns of a person with mental illness and how it conflicts with the unsick other.

People without mental illness are often called neurotypical. They can process the world they inhabit in typical ways. People with various mental illnesses like depression get stuck in their own heads. They catasrophize and can convince themselves of every worst thing. Here’s some examples of how it manifests:

I got into a fight with my roommate last month and convinced myself she was moving out, not only the house but also my life.

My friend was once told she could take a different car home so she wouldn’t have to sit in the same car as her screaming infant. She convinced herself she was a terrible mother and everyone orchestrated her second car because they hated spending time with her and needed a break.

I had a friend drive to her boyfriend’s house to convince him at 3:00 in the morning she wasn’t breaking up with him because he missed a dinner with her parents.


There’s three people in the conversation you have with your sick spouse or child. There’s you, there’s them, and there’s all the voices in their head.

You have to help untangle the thoughts of someone in crisis even when they don’t believe you. Logic will eventually prevail. I think the knowledge that you’re not talking to the exact same person you love can help alleviate some of the tension that builds. You become frustrated because your method of thought is so diametrically different from the person’s you’re talking to.

There’s another facet to this we need to explore. We think we can fix others, yes, but we also spend so much time thinking we can numb ourselves from feeling. We drink a little too much or go out with people that tell us we’re worthy of something. We become obsessed with TV or podcasts. You don’t have to be clinically ill to engage in behavior that makes you cover up some void inside of you. To try to fill what feels empty.

When we admit that we aren’t fine, we often find the solutions in quick fixes and coverups. We delay the brunt of the breakdown because we don’t have time to pick up all our pieces. Instead, when we change our mindset, and admit we can’t fix it, we have no other choice but to sit in it. To sit beside our spouse or our friend. We sit so that we may one day stand.

Maybe you can’t fix it. Maybe all you can do it sleep next to it.


Suicide Prevention Hotline

For Family and Friends

National Alliance on Mental Illness

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