My Issue With Motivational Mental Health Quotes

We all need a little encouragement from time to time. Whether it be a little pep-talk about getting that essay done, or a bigger kick up the bum telling you that you are strong and will beat depression, there's always a motivational saying floating around social media that'll give you that push along your way. I have no issue with most; I actually think a lot of them are a great way of inspiring others and helping your peers to be the best they can be. What I have an issue with is the sayings usually linked with mental health; more specifically, the ones which encourage a detachment from the disorder or illness. This post is just a little ramble about how 'motivational sayings' could potentially do more harm than good.

mental health quotes more harm than good

While I totally understand that some people may love them and claim that these little words of wisdom have helped them through their struggle with a mental health illness, for me, they leave a very weird taste in my mouth. I just can't get on with them, and feel that everyone's struggle is so different, a generalised, generic saying cannot really help much. Obviously, everyone interprets the generic sayings in their own way, leading to them helping individuals in their own specific situations, but I find having a conversation (longer than a few words on a sparkly Instagram background) is far more beneficial.

Here's why. For trichotillomania, there are tons of sayings flying around which say "BREATHE: IT'S ONLY HAIR" or "I'M NOT DEFINED BY MY DISORDER" or "I'M STRONGER/BETTER THAN MY ILLNESS". It is these supposedly motivational sayings which I have an issue with. Maybe, because I can only really focus on trich and depression, I don't know how well this post can relate to other illnesses (please do let me know via social media/commenting/emailing as to whether you feel the same). My problem (issue/beef) with these magical quotes is that they majorly detach the sufferer from their illness in a rather unhealthy way.

To say you are better than your illness, or not defined by it in the slightest, is to put a barrier between yourself and your disorder, as if the two are totally separate things. Perhaps it is easier to think that they are, maybe it's wishful thinking, it could be sheer denial. Your illness and you are not separate. The disorder is part of your mind, and it is you that is having to deal with it. Detaching yourself from the issue is not only delusional, but also quite dangerous.

In order to really get to the core of a mental health disorder and start to work towards getting better, you have to accept that it is part of who you are. For trichotillomania sufferers, it is not "only hair". It's all the emotional baggage and feelings of self-loathing, disgust, shame and upset that come with it. Saying it is just hair is totally dismissing the most central, soul-destroying element of the disorder; the part which effects sufferers the most. I have accepted trich is part of me, and probably will be for a very long time. This is not a bad thing; it's life, you learn to live with these things in your own way. It's acceptance. Denial will just make things worse.

You know what, I AM defined by my disorder. Having trichotillomania and depression have taught me so many valuable life skills, an immeasurable inner strength, determination, resilience, and has opened my eyes to so many things that I would have otherwise not have seen. It has taught me to love myself despite the bald face staring back at me in the mirror, eyes bleached red from crying myself to sleep. It has, without a doubt, made me the person I am today. And I'm pretty proud of that. It's not something to be ashamed about, compartmentalise, reject and deny. Embrace it- I can guarantee you will find a great more peace within yourself by accepting your illness and working with it than a silly quote can bring.

trichotillomania motivational quotes
My face, brought to you by trichotillomania.

Does this relate to you? Or do you actually find motivational quotes help you to cope with your disorder/illness? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Pretty and Polished



  1. This is such a well-written and direct post, and I felt quite emotional towards the end! I also can't stand those preachy posts which seem to just gloss over the problem rather than address the core issue, and detaches the issue from the individual. You should be very proud for accepting your illness as part of you, rather than hide from it, and I'm sure it's made you a very resilient person :)

    1. Thank you very much! I know, mental health is such a personal issue, it cannot really be approached in such a detached manner (in my opinion), but I understand that it is difficult to appeal to everyone who suffers due to the individual nature of the conditions xx

  2. Really good point of view and post lovely, I sometimes look at them when I am struggling with my depression but they never help they leave me feeling guilty and that I can't do what they say haha so I think I agree to a degree xxx


    1. They're ok for a short term boost of motivation but definitely not good for a long term solution! I just can't stand the wording of many of them! Xxx

  3. Amazing post, Sophie. I hate the quotes at times because they make me feel as though I am failing at even being a person with agoraphobic tendencies and mild trich. It is part of me, and it gets harder to accept it when there as things floating about telling me how to feel. ♡

    1. Thanks Jenny, totally agree- they can sometimes pile on the pressure x

  4. This is such an amazing post, and such a needed one. For ages I tried to believe these quotes when I was battling depression and self harm, but when I finally accepted that it's part of me and not something detached, it became a lot easier.

    Beth ||

    1. Thank you; I think it is dangerous to detach yourself from something that is so much a part of you and your mind. Thanks for your comment x

  5. Very well written article mate, thank you for the valuable and useful information. Keep up the good work! FYI, please check these

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