Sometimes I fear that I’m a mental health elitist. I fully comprehend that this is a bitchy kind of person to be, so I’m working on it. I wonder if any of y’all struggle with this, though? Can I get a “me too”?
I noticed my elitism when my future sister-in-law posted something to facebook about high-functioning anxiety. It was a video about how hard it is to live with this condition and how we should all feel bad for her because she has it. The video said things such as, “high functioning anxiety means worrying about if people like you or not” and “it’s staying busy and struggling with perfectionism.” To me this simply sounds like being a human.
What really got me is when the video said, “it’s silent panic attacks while you’re calm and smiling.”
Ummmm…. I’m no psychiatrist, so I am in no position to say that’s not legit. HOWEVER – I am finding it very difficult to dig up sympathy for this girl for her silent panic attacks. She says we should all feel bad for her for having this terrible disorder, but I wan’t to say, “Hi, yeah. It’s me, Hazel, over here posting jokes and cat videos. Sorry to interrupt your pity party, but I was wondering: have you ever had a panic attack where you asked someone to call 911 because you thought you were dying right that second? Have you ever hyperventilated until you puked? If you’ve ever experienced the sheer terror that comes with a true panic attack, then I’m sorry – you were not CALM AND SMILING.”
But that’s me being elitist, because maybe there are silent panic attacks. If there are, I’m sure they suck. I simply have a hard time feeling bad for her because, straight up? I feel like I’m a lot worse off than her when it comes to mental health, and I’m annoyed with people when they want sympathy from me about it. It’s like someone with strep throat going up to someone with throat cancer and being all, “Yeah, these throat problems…they really suck, amirite?” Yes, they do…but you’re annoying and please go away.
I have friends with mental illnesses who can’t keep jobs…who can’t get out of bed in the morning…who have been hospitalized multiple times…who take on every day as a challenge to keep living. I have so much respect for them and for the mountains they climb every single day, and I hate to see it cheapened by people who post to social media about needing sympathy for things that seem so-not-an-issue compared to what these people face.
I really have to get better about this. Any sort of mental problems are awful, and I should feel compassion on anyone struggling. I know this. We’re all on the same team here, we’re just varying degrees of invested. It’s like sports fans – some bought tickets off Criagslist the night before the game, and some have season passes, painted their faces, and decorated their houses in the team colors. Despite how deep into fandom we are, we’re all on the same team. RAH RAH! WE HATE MENTAL ILLNESS! RAH! *cheerleader cartwheel*
Mental illness, no matter the severity, always sucks. There are people who have it better than me, and there are people who have it worse. It’s not my job to decide if they deserve my sympathy or not. Sometimes it’s tough to feel bad for someone when I would trade brain function with them in a second, but I need to do it anyway. If they need help and compassion, it is not my job to hand out judgement.
Anyone else ever struggled with this?