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"I don't want to offend but..." - how to ask someone about their experience of mental health

In the last few months, three people have asked my about various aspects of my mental health and my experiences of it. However, each person started the conversation with "I don't want to offend you" or "I'm not sure the best way of asking this" or something similar, and this isn't the first time I've heard this kind of mitigation before starting a conversation. Each comment had then been followed by a question about my mental health, whether that be what it feels like to have a panic attack, what it feels like to be depressed rather than just sad, and so on.

Now I know for some people, talking about mental health and more specifically, their own illnesses, can be a very sensitive topic and for some people very triggering, but personally, as long as you're not purposefully trying to be a dick about it, I'm not going to get offended by your question. I'm happy when people ask me things because it shows me that they want a better understand…

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