Today I am writing about a topic I have found rather interesting when it comes to how we view those who suffer any kind of depression. I’m going to talk about the way we compare ourselves to others and in particular how we compare our problems to others in order to justify our own or belittle theirs.
“Comparison is the thief of all joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Everyone suffers from time to time and everyone has the right to feel upset about something or the be angry, but sometimes we cast judgement on someone who is suffering and belittle their pain without understanding how or why they feel the way that they do.
I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and an example I have used is two young children, from the same school, from different families, one wealthy and the other less wealthy. The boy from the wealthy family is told he cannot have the latest video game console that all his friends have, the child from the less well off family is told he cannot go to see the movie that all his friends are going to. In both cases it is because the families cannot afford it.
Both boys lash out in anger, both of them get upset and both feel depressed.
So my question is who would suffer more or who should suffer more? Is it the boy who had always had the latest video game consoles, but now he can’t get a new one or the boy who doesn’t go to the movies much, but couldn’t go this one time he really wanted to?
Some initial reactions I have had to this theory have been that the wealthy kid should just get over it, that he is spoiled, that he is lucky to have what he’s got already, that he has nothing to be upset about and that the less wealthy kid is the one who can feel upset.
However I believe that both of their pain and their right to be upset is equal. I say “Right” for lack of a better word because I am a firm believer of being grateful for whatever it is that you have, but for this example I would like to give them the right be mad and upset about their situations.
Who are we to pass judgement on the suffering or even perceived suffering of others when we don’t know their story or what the circumstances may be. Both boys are hurt in the same way by different circumstances because that is the only situation they know. The boy who has always had everything, now can’t have it and to him that’s devastating. The boy who has rarely had anything missed out on something and to him that is also devastating. They both hurt equally and the toll it takes on them is the same.
Using two young boys missing out on video games and movies is a pretty trivial problem, but in life no matter who yo are the way you react and the pain you feel as a result of that will be based on your own story. A corporate mum who has money but misses her children can feel pain just like a stay at home mum who has time with her kids but has no money. A rich CEO who’s stressed about business can feel pain just like the man who works in his company who is stressed about bills. The popular girl who is abused at home feels pain just like the less popular girl who is bullied at school. The sports star who feels pain because he had to move away from home feels pain just like the boy who couldn’t afford to go to the tryout.
No one is immune to mental illness. Statistics show certain groups of people are more likely to suffer, but no matter who you are or what you do when you are depressed the struggle is very much the same. Your story is your story and you can write it anyway you like. Just don’t try to write someone else’s story.
“Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes
Oh, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes…” – Elvis Presley
I am writing this to help you realise that you are allowed to feel pain and to help you realise that those around you are allowed to feel pain to. When we can all accept this it will become a lot easier for everyone to be more honest about their pain and it will help avoid the “bottling up” of emotions that so often happens.
Please send me any feedback you have about this or anything else I share with you, I am still new to this and I know I’m going to learn a lot from you if you help me.
Today I leave you with a song that I think shares such a postive way of looking at life.
Suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting better.
If you or someone you know is suffering then please seek help.
For professional assistance please call
Australia: Lifeline – 13 11 14
New Zealand: Lifeline – 0800 543 354
USA/Canada: Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1800 273 8255
UK: HopeLineUK – 0800 068 41 41
In emergency situations please call your local emergency services.