Hi There!

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I love it when people talk about problems.  There’s nothing quite as uplifting as talking about the things that irritate and annoy us all.  Feel free to personalize this as well.  If my outlook isn’t positive enough for you please let me know because there’s nothing that I love hearing more than someone else’s opinion about how I feel.  Better yet, tell me how I am supposed to feel in order to conform with your rigid idea of reality because that’s totally something I’m interested in doing.  Every day I wake up and think: gee, what would person x really like me to do?  Is there some special attitude that I can adopt that will make them have a more positive perception of me?  Perhaps I can sit down with you at some time, say when I’m really busy, and you can point out all my deficiencies.  That would be phenomenal!

I shouldn’t continue to be surprised when people tell me how I’m supposed to live my life, but I am nonetheless.  I always wonder what gives others the moral authority to dictate to me how I should act, behave, talk, and even react in everyday situations.  The thing is that no one has that authority and even if someone did have that kind of moral authority they probably wouldn’t use it to tell others how to live their lives.  There is nothing to be gained by arguing with someone about how they live their life.  As someone who has had this argument with nearly everyone in my life I can tell you that people don’t change because you tell them to they change out of necessity.

I know a lot of people have good intentions and are “just trying to help,” but I guess I didn’t realize that most people double as professional, pro-bono problem solvers in their free time.  Lucky us!  We get all of this wonderful wisdom simply by knowing people who think they know us better than we know ourselves.  Apparently it has never occurred to any of these people that maybe we don’t want their help.  I don’t know about you, but if I want help with something I ask for it and I think this where the wannabe problem solvers in our lives get confused.  Complaining about something isn’t the same as asking for a way to fix it.

When I complain about something (which is pretty often come to think of it) I do so because I’m frustrated not because I’m looking for a solution to a problem that by this time has probably already passed.  The best thing we can do and should want to do in these situations is understand not dictate to the other person why they got into the problem to begin with.  Chances are they know exactly how and why they’re dealing with this problem and chances are just as high that they don’t want to get into a fight about what led them to get into this problem.  Why would they want to have that conversation?  It just points out something that they’re already mad about and then they have to hear your scorn to boot.

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I have a friend who is very well-meaning and I try to understand her problems so that I can see where she’s coming from.  She looks at my problems and points out what led me to have this problem, what I should have done to fix it, and the subsequent other problems that she has noticed I also have on top of the already frustrating experience.  This is like the Doublemint gum of the problem world: double the pleasure and double the fun.  There is no need to scrutinize my experience.  The only thing that I ask is that you understand.

My favorite experience with the supposedly well-meaning people of the world occurs when someone feels the need to tell me that I “don’t really” suffer from Depression because it’s “all in the mind.”  Not only is that an incredibly insensitive thing to say (and holy untrue) it also incredibly offensive.  You think that I just walk around with the intention of sabotaging myself?  Who does that?  What’s worse is what that tells me you think about me.  You think that I’m someone who not only can’t get what they want but doesn’t really want anything other than misery so they can go around bitching about it to everyone else.  That’s a terrible thing to even think let alone say.

Recently I got into an argument (surprise, surprise I know) with a woman who told me that Depression is a curable illness that I have chosen not to seek a cure for and that I adopted a self-defeating attitude because all I really wanted out of life was for people to feel sorry for me.  Wow.  I was so stunned I really didn’t know what to say.  The only thing I could do was say what I know to be true.  I have suffered from Depression since I was a child.  I know this because no six year old kid actively contemplates suicide if nothing is wrong with them.  I also know this because a doctor who went to medical school has been treating me for this illness for over a decade and I can tell you for a fact that if I were not medicated I would be dead.  There should be no doubt about that.

Over one quarter of the U.S. population suffers from some form of Depression-related illness.  When we diminish the very real effects that this disease has on those who suffer from it we are demeaning the sufferers themselves and believe me they have been through enough.  It’s bad enough not wanting to get up in the morning because you don’t feel like you’re worth the trouble it is quite another to have someone tell you that you’re really just someone who wants attention.  Let me be clear: there is no cure for depression.  There are treatment options that I strongly encourage anyone with any symptoms of Depression to check out because the worst thing that anyone can do to someone suffering from Depression is to attempt to re-affirm their worst feelings about themselves: that they really aren’t worth it.  There should be no doubt that whoever you are and whatever you do that you are a person that is unique in the world.  No one else in the world is like you and no one should ever make you feel like you are anything less than best person you can be.

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One thought on “Hi There!

  1. It really is too bad that ignorance surrounding mental health is so rampant. I’ve always been pretty interested in psychology, specifically with mental illness, and it’s nuts how many misconceptions there are in general public knowledge.

    I tend not to speak openly about my problems because I know how much people love to offer their own solutions and criticisms. I don’t know how many times I’ve said “I don’t need you to fix it, I just need you to listen”– apparently a suuuper hard concept to wrap one’s head around.

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