My Mental Health Rules | #4
I forgot to post this here last week. Still getting used to publishing on Medium more frequently. So it was Tuesday. Time for #4 of My Mental Health rules. (#5 was published the day before yesterday…)
This one is about our right to suffer.
We constantly compare. Ourselves with others, others with others, things with other things. You know the 🍎 +🍐-saying.
On an interpersonal level, comparisons don’t really help most of the time. We’re all individuals, we’re all different: not every six-pack (or paunch) grows at the same rate. Comparing the uncomparable is a rich source of unhappiness.
When it comes to mental health and suffering, however, our obsession with comparison becomes extremely problematic and downright dangerous.
The danger of comparing individual levels of suffering
Maybe you feel guilty because you are unhappy, listless or empty inside. Maybe you think: “Who am I to suffer mentally despite all my 1st world privileges?”. And then you start comparing your own situation with that of others. The starving kid in Ethiopia? The torture victim in Afghanistan? Your grandparents who fought in a war maybe?
Yes, there may be people who are far worse off than you are. Yet comparing yourself to them is completely useless: you are you, not them. It’s perfectly fine and helpful from time to time to remind yourself of privileges you might have.
Using them to make a case against yourself, in order to blame and shame yourself for your mental suffering is just another symptom of the problem you think you’re addressing with your comparisons.
Remind yourself of privileges, but don’t shame yourself
Comparing your inner struggles, your unhappiness and your right to suffer doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t change or devalue other people’s struggles. Comparing mental suffering is bad in every way. You make yourself feel even worse about yourself, and you keep yourself from getting the help you’d deserve and need in order to change.
If you want to make something useful of your privileges, go and take care of your mind (and your body) so you’ve got the ressources and the power to help others or help change an unequal world. There are a lot of wrongs to be righted right in front of your properly heated flat or house as soon as you are back on track yourself, by the way.
Blaming yourself for not being less depressed is like blaming yourself for not being physically bigger — it is utter nonsense and does more harm than it helps anybody.
If you are depressed, if you suffer from mental instability, the fairest and most modest thing you can do is: get help in order to get better again. That’s the only way to contribute to more equality and fairness.
In a nutshell — and that’s my mental health rule #4:
Being fortunate does not equal being happy.
Thanks for putting me under some positive pressure to share more content on mental health issues again, InsideOut LeaderBoard & Rob Stephenson⁸ 🐙
Photo by Paola Chaaya on Unsplash