Friday, August 16, 2013

Your Issues Are Not Lessened Because Someone Else's are Worse

I've come a long way, baby.  My mental stability is much better than it used to be.

I've made choices in my life that have caused me to be a vastly different person than I might have been. Some of those choices were conscious.  Some, unconscious.

Although I still have my moments of insecurity and craziness, I am in a much better place than I used to be, and an infinitely better place than I could have been.

I still have stuff to work on, though.  You see, in my belief system (and it does not have to be yours - and I have to say that because I know a few people who will think I am criticizing them by thinking differently than they do.  I'm not.  I'm just sharing my experience and thoughts), the fact that I have depression and/or anxiety at all (or other physical problems) means that there are still things that I need to work through.  A lot of people believe that depression and/or anxiety are caused by a simple brain chemistry problem and can be fixed with a pill.  That's just fine.  If that's what you believe, and it works in your life, don't mess with it.  I am not the end-all and be-all of your life experience, only my own.   For me, though, I choose to believe that there is a possible end, or at least acceptable place to be in relation to my emotional issues.  And I am vastly closer to that place than I used to be.

Here's how my life has gone:

(1)  Have a physical (or emotional - they are all related) ailment
(2)  Physical ailment hangs around until my body becomes painfully aware that I'm not listening to it
(3)  Develop new, more annoying (potentially serious) physical (or emotional) ailment

As I've gone through my adult years and worked through emotional issues (mostly on my own or with the help of my husband because the Canadian health industry is not good for those of us who are not officially "crazy" - or at least it hasn't been for me), my depression and/or anxiety issues have lessened.  Some of those issues I've shared here on the blog, some I simply cannot because it would hurt other people.  I have seen a marked improvement in how my days progress, in higher levels of happiness and lower levels of anxiety.  I still have my moments, no doubt, but they are not as frequent or as extreme as they used to be.

Does this mean that my anxiety won't get worse again?  Maybe.  Does it mean that I'm forever on my way to being fixed?  Maybe.  What it does mean is that this is the pattern I've observed in myself and for now I'm sticking with my theory until it gets shot out of the water.

It could have a lot to do with hormone levels, exercise, or other things that I've changed or that are changing in my life.  It could help that finances are less of a worry, or that my son is no longer a toddler who needs all of my attention.  There are a lot of factors involved.

But for now I'll continue on the way I have been and continue to work through issues in my past.  Because that does seem to help.

But that's not the point I wanted to make in this post.  The point I started out wanting to focus on is this:  the problems in a person's life might seem greater or lesser than the problems in someone else's life.  But that doesn't discount the effect they have on that first person.

The effects of abuse suffered by a person are not lessened because someone else suffered worse abuse.  The effects of mental illness experienced by a person are not lessened because someone else had a worse illness.  We cannot discount our experiences simply because someone else was perceived to have had it worse.  And we cannot focus on them too deeply simply because someone else was perceived to have it better.  Look it in the eye, deal with it, and let it go!

Let's think of it this way.  To a dyed-in-the-wool vegan, there is probably no worse torture than being forced to sit down and eat a big, bloody steak.  To those of us with a more carnivorous aptitude, that steak is a treat.  So it goes with life experience.  What crushes one particularly sensitive 10-year-old, might not even register with another.  We all have different sensitivities to different things.  The "issues" that you have to deal with in adulthood might have been completely different for another person put through the experiences of your life.

You never have to make the issues you are dealing with public.  Let's say you had a parent who spanked.  Let's say that at the time and in your culture, that was an accepted behaviour.  There was nothing malicious or hurtful meant in the spanking.  Your parent didn't like doing it and just thought that it was what needed to be done to properly "train" you as a child to bring you into adulthood.  And now let's say that those spankings, infrequent as they were, made you feel untrusting to the loved-ones in your life.  And because of that, well, you've had a hard time with intimate relationships.  Well, just because your parent was still loving and wasn't malicious, does not mean that you aren't allowed to be mad about it.  It doesn't mean that you can't work through it and understand where your emotions came from.  You can still love your parent and be mad about the choices they made.  And you don't have to carry that anger with you, but recognize it, accept it and move through it.

I imagine a lot of people have feelings that they have suppressed because they think their loved ones don't deserve to be felt about that way.  But you need to work through it personally to get rid of it.  You need not share it with other people, but you need to acknowledge those feelings, be they anger, frustration, disappointment, or whatever.

Or you don't.  But I sure do.

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