First off, I want to say that I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything lately. Moods have been up and down, and I’ve had whole weeks where I’ve pretty much withdrawn from the world. This happens. I cope. I just can’t cope with some other things at the same time, so I let them slide. This time my blog was one of those things.
That said, I now want to move on to the topic of this entry, which is the phrase “I’m not that bad.”
I’ve heard it time and time again, in many different situations. I’ve heard it used by people to deny that they’re depressed. I’ve heard it used to re-assure others that nothing’s wrong, even if it is. I’ve heard it used by people to re-assure themselves by comparing to others in worse situations, or who aren’t as good at coping. Those, however, aren’t the situations I want to address today…
My last post was about suicide, and about all the people out there who’ve considered it. I got a lot of responses from people who’d felt that way, but I also got responses from people saying that it made them feel guilty, or like frauds, because they’d “never been that bad”. That’s what I want to address today.
I want to look at this idea. I want to examine it. Then I want to yell “BULLSHIT!” and throw it out a window. Because how you feel and what you deal with doesn’t have to be measured up against anyone else. The fact that someone out there feels suicidal doesn’t make your panic attacks any less relevent. The fact that someone has panic attacks does nothing to relieve the torment of facing yet another day without joy, or sorrow, or anything resembling emotion. The fact that someone out there has a different problem from you doesn’t mean that your problem doesn’t matter too!
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some places where it’s important to take into account that other people have worse (or different) problems to you. One such situation is when you’re actually talking to the person in question. I generally find, for example, that complaining about my bruises to someone with a broken arm isn’t the best idea. Sympathising with them, and complaining about my bruises later with someone else is often a far better course of action. Another example would be where choices have to be made. Perhaps someone who offers you support has too heavy a load at the moment, and has to choose between being there for you and being elsewhere for a more severely depressed person. In that situation “I’m not that bad” can be a reasonable and helpful comment. (So long as it’s actually the truth, of course, but that’s a topic for another day.)
The important thing about the above situations, however, is that none of them involve you not getting help or sympathy. At their most severe they involve you understanding situations and looking elsewhere for support. And it’s important that you do that. It can be easy for “I’m not that bad” to morph into “I’m not worth the support” and that’s where it gets dangerous. That’s the crack that lets the brain gremlins get in, and once they’re in… well, you know what jerks they can be!
So when you next find yourself thinking “I’m not that bad” stop for a moment and think about what you mean by it. There’s nothing wrong with taking comfort in the fact that things are not as bad as they could be, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling sympathy for those who have it worse, but when you stray into thinking that your own illness deserves to be dismissed because “it’s not bad enough” then you’ve hit a problem. Because if it’s bothering you then it deserves to be dealt with. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be helped. And you deserve to be well.