Misunderstanding Severe Mental Illness Through Toxic Positivity And Comparative Thinking

An acquaintance of mine and I had a discussion yesterday regarding my use of the words, “life sucks.”

It’s not a phrase I personally share with others a whole lot, so I was interested in learning her reaction to it, when the phrase slipped out in conversation.

Not surprising, this person’s outlook on severe mental illness, bordered on toxic positivity and (for lack of a better way of saying it) comparative thinking, whereby she compared my struggles to that of a blind person or someone in a wheelchair.

First, isn’t that kind of thinking quite extreme?

Allow me to elaborate… she said that my experiences, “were not as bad” as someone fitting the aforementioned circumstances.

So, I am all for having compassion for people struggling (even in ways that I do not), but that compassion should not come at the expense of my own (or someone else’s) suffering.

So, anyway, this was a tough discussion to be involved in… and, I attempted to educate her on the dangers of comparative thinking (or whatever it is called).

I just hate it when people compare circumstances though… any kind of circumstances!

It so cheapens what the subject matter is going through, and leads everyone else to believe that that’s “just the way it is.”

But is it? What are your thoughts on the issues brought up in this post? Agree? Disagree? And, why or why not?

22 thoughts on “Misunderstanding Severe Mental Illness Through Toxic Positivity And Comparative Thinking

  1. You can’t compare but please remember you can’t take on everyone’s thinking and edicate what they aren’t willing or know how to change. Even your closet friends maay nmever understadn no matter how bad they want to. I will never fully understand your illness and you’ll never fully understand mine. We can’t possibly be in each other’s shies. I think you may be thrying to think at too higha level. Does that make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. High expectatiosn on ourself can help but sometimes we have too high expectations of othrs. Try to give oyurself a break. Think of something you don’t understand about people, example being rasist or gay, if you have strong beleifs even if they may seem wrong to the other are they really going to logically explain to you what is their reality. Mental illness will always be diffficult to undwrstand, it helping those closet to use understand, those are the ones who matter most. The rest of the world is lead by exa,=mple and interejct when it’s the right time. Try not to have the concure the world attitude, it will only hurt you. Saying everything with only the best of intentions.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It invalidates the true nature of the struggles of mental illness. I once left a fb group over the concept that mental illness isn’t terminal or you can’t die from it. I firmly think you can… if not by suicide then by co occurring things like heart problems or diabetes that medication can cause. Etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I believe it’s a form of emotional abuse to invalidate the way people feel. You have every right to feel stressed over your life, even if it’s not as troublesome as someone else’s. I always tell people “this isn’t the pain Olympics.” It’s not a competition on who has it worse.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Aside from how pointless and invalidating comparing two people’s very different struggles is, it strikes me how relative such comparisons are. As someone who is both blind and mentally ill, for me personally my mental illnesses contribute to a great deal more struggles than blindness in itself. Whereas for the vast majority of sighted people I know and who have ever talked about this to me seem to consider blindness the worst possible disability one may have (which is totally understandable because people typically rely on their sight most of all the senses so it must feel really creepy to imagine not having that).

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I really don’t like people who invalidate others. It’s not a “life sucks Olympics”, but I guess some people who engage in it get some form of secondary gain. My friend and I were talking about how some people legit compare how serious their suicide attempts or self injury is, as some kind of accomplishment.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s unfair and unrealistic to compare mental illness to physical illness or to use Ashley’s words “poor children in Africa” as there are poor children in our very own countries too. I think some people just open their mouths before their brain engages, perhaps not meaning to offend — I’ll give them the benefit of doubt 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I disapprove of the comparison but it is not the comparison I take offense with, it’s the invalidation. It’s one thing not being able to relate, it’s another thing to invalidate someone just because you can’t relate.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. As for comparison, I do that to myself sometimes to remind myself of the things to be grateful of. But I don’t do that to other people. I hate it when people do that to others because they are making a judgment and applying their standards to others when they shouldn’t be.

        Liked by 1 person

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