The negative comparison

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LogoJPGWhen you’re struggling in life, ‘people have it worse’ than you, or some form of that expression, is spouted without any thought of how it takes away all acknowledgement of our emotional suffering.

But how many times have we said ‘oh I can’t complain when you’re going through so much’ to our friends/neighbours/loved ones?  Seriously, we’re our own worst enemy.

I get where we’re coming from but can we just stop feeling guilty all.the.fucking.time???!!!!

Maybe I’m different or it’s simply down to being a highly sensitive person but I empathise with anyone struggling.

Last year when I was at the height of my symptoms here in Sydney (before flying home for my diagnosis), I felt awful, as though I could have been an extra in the Walking Dead and mum, who was suffering a cold at the time, said she ‘felt a bit sorry for herself’ but that she had no right to complain when I was going through much worse.

Yes, the symptoms I felt probably did feel a lot worse than her cold but you know what else?  Colds can be pretty bloody shit as well especially when you’re trying to live your life and by that I mean work, run around doing errands or socialising, looking after the kids etc.  So I felt sorry for her because whilst our symptoms may have been different, we both felt pretty rotten.

Those of us who suffer mental health issues on a chronic level rally against the notion that our suffering isn’t that bad when compared to the rest of the world so why in the actual fuck do we do it ourselves?!  Why do we feel guilty when our neighbour Karen is in the same boat as us?  She can barely bring herself to leave bed for the day never mind eat, she doesn’t always have much energy to socialise and she just wants to hide from the world.  Except, she has cancer and you don’t.  Feel guilty right?!  Feel like you’re the worst person in the world because Karen has cancer and she’s still trying to take her kids to play at the park and you barely have the energy to play a video game in your PJs?  I get it.  But I also think it’s a load of shit.

I can’t tell you to stop feeling guilty because I’d be a hypocrite but I will tell you not to dwell on it.  You and Karen suffer in similar ways regardless of what began your journey into the black hole of ‘crappy life syndrome’.  Would you tell Karen that her suffering was her own fault if she was suffering lung cancer because she smoked?!  Likely not.  So why are you telling yourself it’s your own fault you can’t get out of bed ‘despite a good life’?

As I said, I feel guilty when others are suffering and I feel as bad as they do at times and obviously there are some things that simply don’t and can’t compare but that’s my point – we shouldn’t be comparing at all because everyone’s suffering is different.  Think of your suffering as a pain threshold; some people’s tolerance for pain is far higher than others.  It doesn’t make you a ‘child’ or ‘pathetic’ if you can’t take much, it simply means that we are who we are and that we’re different.

You do have to use some common sense – the classic ‘I broke a nail’ isn’t quite the same as ‘I broke my legs when I jumped in front of a bus’ but, as the saying goes, ‘it’s all relative’.  The message underlying this entire article is that we need to empathise and sympathise with each other.  Recognise when we’re struggling and acknowledge it.  You may not agree with someones’ assessment of their suffering but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer your compassion to them.

Don’t be your own worst enemy.  Don’t diminish your struggles because society says they’re ‘not that bad’ because those thoughts from society start with ourselves.  WE are the society and if we begin to feel guilty for our own suffering, we can never hope to help other peoples’ with theirs.


Just because something isn’t the ‘end of the world’ it doesn’t mean it won’t feel like it for the person going through it.


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