Compassion, not just kindness

“Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.”

Far too often, true compassion is overlooked as just being simple kindness. There’s nothing wrong with being kind, of course. All acts of compassion are kind, however, not all acts of kindness are compassionate. It’s the societal norm to be kind to others. If you walk into a grocery store and be a jerk to the person in front of you in line, people are going to give you dirty looks. Being rude or ignorant is, in most cases, considered socially unacceptable. Nearly everyone is considered to have a certain amount of decency towards others, even if it means going through the motions. This often means empty gestures. Yes, that person won’t get angry with the grocery store patron in front of them that’s taking forever to pay, but mostly because society would look at that with a figurative scowl.

I don’t want to imply that all acts of kindness come from social necessity, that certainly isn’t the case. There are absolutely people who are kind in public not because of any norm forced upon them, but because they genuinely want to be kind. They realize that patience will get them farther than initiating conflict ever will. But I’d be lying if I said that I believe that’s most people.

If there’s any one thing that my experiences with depression have shown me in force, it’s that people often see what I consider to be my “realist” attitude as pessimistic. I’ve said many times before that I believe in the inherent good in all people. I do. But inherent is the key word for me. While everybody has the potential for infinite caring, it seems that so few people, well, act on that. So, if people have the potential for unconditional love, why is it so uncommon? There’s probably a long list of reasons why: for fear of it being seen as weak and vulnerable, because the feeling may not be reciprocated… but my guess is that the most common reason why is because it’s simply easier to be indifferent to it all.
We can still perform these empty acts of kindness without much sacrifice on our part, but true compassion requires looking outside of our own self more often than not. Why sacrifice our own time, putting our emotions aside for the sake to help others with theirs? It seems like such a predatory mindset – kill or be killed. Look after yourself and your own emotions, or supposedly risk your mental well-being to help someone else maybe feel a bit better. From that viewpoint, the answer as to which seems better is obvious. How, then, is compassion worth it?

To understand that, it’s important that we understand what compassion actually is. To have compassion for something, be it a person, group, or cause, is to care about it on a deeper level. It’s easy to be kind to people we see in passing. To have compassion for them is a different thing entirely. While kindness is just that, kindness, compassion is fostering understanding for one’s situation, considering everything affecting it. Compassion is attempting to understand where one is coming from, be it good, bad, or somewhere in between, and caring for them anyway. Compassion is understanding that you will never be able to fully understand anyone else, nor they you, but loving and accepting them for who they are and what they have to offer anyway. Compassion and acceptance go hand-in-hand – if you cannot accept someone, then it’s impossible to understand and sympathize with them.

The word ‘compassion’ has its roots in Latin. The root of the word, compati, literally means to “suffer with.” While I don’t believe that having compassion for something means you must suffer with it, it shows that true compassion is opening yourself up to the plight of others, whether you have a stake in the situation or not. Human society, and even more than that, human understanding, is built on the foundation of togetherness. This means different things to different people, but I believe cooperation and understanding for others is key. Humans can’t live alone. You can stick a person in the middle of nowhere for years and years, alone, and they may find a way to survive. But emotionally, they will be broken. Cut someone off from any possible chance of compassion, and everything they have dealt with and everything they will deal with is theirs and theirs alone. Compassion allows them to share the burden with others, strengthening relationships and fostering understanding. How many fewer wars would be fought it compassion was shown to enemies instead of no mercy? Instead of the “kill or be killed” mindset?

This may seem like an incredibly naïve mindset. I’m not advocating for pacifism, but I do believe that rudeness, mocking, hatred, and violence should never be the first go-to for a lack of understanding. If we put compassion ahead of everything else, how many fewer people would feel the need to end their own life? To turn to drugs or alcohol? To violence?

Letting ourselves be open to others doesn’t mean rejecting ourselves, though. By seeing what others go through, we can become better equipped to deal with our own ups and downs. To reiterate what I said before: “Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.” Humans can survive alone. But to truly live, emotionally, mentally, spiritually…we need someone who has compassion for us. But how can we morally ask for compassion if we aren’t willing to give it ourselves?

So many problems in the world, past and present, are attributed to a lack of understanding. Compassion surpasses understanding – it allows for unconditional caring even when we don’t understand everything. But, understanding or no, it promotes cooperation. Again, I’m not saying we should all be pacifists. As morbid as it may sound, as long as humanity exists, violence will accompany us. But it certainly doesn’t have to be something we so readily turn to when understanding evades us. On a larger scale, like when it comes to entire nations, it’s obviously much, much tougher. But it’s possible. It has to be, if we start individually and build it up. For it to affect things larger than us, it first has to affect us. It needs to become a way of life, living compassionately. It would take years, I know. Years and years. But so do most things worth fighting for.

Understanding surpasses ignorance. Compassion surpasses simple kindness. And all of those things surpass violence due to lack of understanding. Compassion first. Everything else afterwards.

Stay strong.

  • Ryan

My anxiety makes me depressed; my depression makes me anxious

Depression and anxiety are quite often a package deal. Those unlucky enough to have one are arguably more prone to experience the other. As I go through the days, I find that I slip into a routine, one which is the bare bones of many aspects of my daily life. For example, I’ll get out of bed at the latest possible time to ensure I make it to work on time. Sure, I’m where I need to be when I need to be there, but not the best scenario to repeat over and over. Recently I’ve started beating myself up for this, not only because I fear how others will view this, but how I view myself. Individuals who have depression are often viewed by those who don’t understand the illness as being lazy. As one of those individuals with depression, I can assure you that 99 times out of 100 this isn’t the case. Depression can eat away at your mind, causing you to attribute negativity to nearly everything life throws at you. Staying in bed for half of the day is not a sign of laziness, it’s a coping mechanism.

With that in mind, I started thinking about why I fell into this “bare-bones” routine so often, and I’ve found that it’s a vicious cycle. I’ll get up at the last possible minute, and be rushing to make it to work on time, causing my anxiety to peak. If something small isn’t how it’s supposed to be, such as my car not starting or a road detour, my routine doesn’t leave much (or really any) wiggle room. So, I’ll get to work, mind already roiling from the anxiety just leading up to it. Work is generally fine; I enjoy what I do, but it is still a job, which comes with anxieties of its own. I’ll get home later that night (I generally work into the evenings) and that is where my anxiety tends to lessen. I don’t have any more responsibilities for that day – this is my chance to take a load off and relax.

So, I’ll occupy myself for an hour. And another hour. As time passes, my mind will turn to tomorrow, and with it, all the stresses and responsibilities it brings. In response, I’ll ask myself what I can do to combat these anxious thoughts. Predictably, my answer is to occupy my mind enough that I block these thoughts out, so, in short, anything but going to bed. If I were to try lying down, my mind would be so frantic I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep anyway. So, I occupy myself even more, and by the time I do make it to bed, it’s ridiculously late. I’ve figured out that, however illogical it may seem, my answer to the anxieties of tomorrow is to make it so that tomorrow doesn’t come until the last minute. Obviously, I don’t have the power to slow down time, but the longer I stay awake in this situation where I have no responsibilities, the less time I’ll have to worry about the time where I do have responsibilities. Going to bed so late causes me to sleep in later than I probably should, and the cycle begins anew. As days pass with this same routine, I fall prey to my depression, with it telling me that this is happening because I am lazy. I am incompetent. I can look at this from a logical perspective and tell myself this isn’t true, but whenever depression takes control, negativity reigns supreme.

In short, what I’m trying to get across is that depression and anxiety work in tandem with one another. Thoughts of one nature often carve a path for the other. As these habits often fall into a cycle, combatting them seems especially hard. As I’ve just related, I’m currently struggling with these things myself, so I can’t give any surefire methods for dealing with this. I can only give my best suggestion, one that I’m going to start trying, and that’s practicing mindfulness.

For those unaware of the concept, mindfulness is looking at thoughts as just that, thoughts. There are no happy thoughts, sad thoughts, anxious thoughts, etc. There are only thoughts that we should view through an unbiased lens. This is not to say we ignore these thoughts, that would create more problems than it solves. We merely observe them without any emotion attached to them. Mindfulness certainly doesn’t say that emotion is not there (or important, for that matter), but as many with depression know, viewing everything that crosses your mind through an emotional lens only leads to attributing negativity to it all. Observing our thoughts and the actions of others through an unbiased lens allows us to apply logic more readily than if we were worried, or guilty, or whatever emotion we attribute to the thought. By looking at events with more logic than emotion, we take away our tendency to worry about events, past, present, and future.

Mindfulness, much like deep breathing techniques and yoga, is something that improves only with practice. Emotion is such an integral part of our thought processes, so when we have a technique that initially takes that away, it certainly takes some getting used to. Again, this method doesn’t ask you to throw emotion away, it simply requests you put it to the side, only pulling it back if it’s immediately needed to deal with the situation (which many times it isn’t). There are many resources for practicing mindfulness, and it is a growing study among many psychological health professionals.

It’s something that I’ve heard has worked for many people, and for a few months it was something I practiced as well. As happens all too often with me, however, I fell out of practice. With luck, it will help me deal with my bare-bones routine. Looking at the next day logically instead of emotionally in the evenings should allow me to go to sleep earlier, thus allowing me to get up earlier and face the day. Mindfulness was created with the concept of living in the moment, as opposed to worrying about past or future events which we cannot change. We can change our right now, however, and mindfulness tries to help ensure we have the mental and emotional capability to do that.

 

  • Ryan

Life isn’t a straight line

So, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a post on here – coming close to a month since my last one. It’s been a hectic past few weeks, what with the obvious stress of the holidays, work (as per usual) and a certain family situation arising.But it’s quite alright, because, good or bad, everything passes eventually. I mean, I’m still working, but if I couldn’t balance my work time with my writing time I never would have started this blog in the first place. Anyway…

Something that DID happen over the holiday season was my five-year high school reunion. I didn’t go to it; it was perilously close to Christmastime and in a completely different state from where I live + where I traveled for Christmas, but it happened. It got me thinking why people  get so excited for their class reunions, and what it would have been like if I had went to this one. Ask a few people and I’m sure many would say they go to their reunion for just that – reuniting. With old friends, old flames, old teammates…and I don’t doubt that. If I had gone to my reunion, it would have been to see people I’ve barely (or not at all) kept in contact with, mostly via Facebook and mutual friends. On that note, reunions are great, and I’m glad they’re, well, a thing.

But anyone who has read my Comparison, the Enemy of Joy post knows how I feel about comparing myself to others, whether it be money, looks, occupation…the list goes on. The big thing that would scare me about a reunion is just that: comparison would be inevitable between former classmates. Basically a “who has gotten farthest, or made the most money, or had the happiest marriage in the past five years.” I don’t believe that this type of comparison is something people do with the intention of harm – I feel that those who are going to compare themselves to others are: A. People who are quite happy with their life, or B. People who are unhappy with their life.

Here’s why I say that: For people who fall into group A, looking at other people who haven’t been as “successful” as you (in whatever one of those categories mentioned beforehand) makes it easier to pat yourself on the back and say, “Good job, me. I’ve done things right for the past five years.” On the flip side, people who fall into group B would most likely compare themselves with others to either motivate themselves, or pity themselves. To be completely honest, if I had gone to my reunion, I would have been in group B, no doubt. As I’ve said a thousand times before, my depression makes it so that I see the worst in any scenario. If I’m in a room of people who have all been successful in their careers, or have been happily married, or whatever, instead of being happy for them and embracing their happiness, I instead beat myself up mentally, asking myself again and again why the hell I’m not at that point yet.

I know, I know, me having that mindset goes against everything I argued for in my Comparison post. I truly believe what I wrote in that post, that comparing yourself to others is an unhealthy mindset, but the truth of the matter is I still fall prey to that way of thinking sometimes. I’m by no means “unhappy” with where I am in my life right now – I have a job that I enjoy, friends and family who support me, and I’m rapidly saving up money so that soon I’ll be able to get my own place and establish my independence even more. I’m content, but to say that I feel incredibly perfect with where I am right now would be a lie. I don’t want to sound like I’m not grateful for what I have, I truly am. When I talk about “where I am in my life” in this case, however, I’m more so talking about things that can affect through my own actions (mostly career and independence).

So even if I did have a chance to make it to my five-year reunion, I’m not entirely sure that I would have even gone, simply because of the danger of me falling into that mindset of me vs. other. It’s fairly tragic, because I’m always a little heartbroken when my own anxiety and depression tries to stop me from experiencing what life has to offer.

My mother and father are both wonderful people. I’ve mentioned my mother briefly before and how she also struggles with depression and anxiety, but my father doesn’t have either one. While I can talk with my mother to an extent not many people can because I understand the way her mind works and vice versa, my father sees my thought processes with these mental illnesses from an outside perspective. This is where I give him so much credit, though – he makes an active effort to try and understand why I think the way I do. While we’ve both accepted the fact that he will never 100% understand the way my mind gets to its conclusions, he refuses to sit down in the back of the auditorium and let my life play itself out. From the little things, such as making sure my medication is full enough, to the big things, like helping me find and apply for outpatient counseling a few years ago, when I felt at one of my lowest points, he helps me. He’s a great man.

My father is a smart guy and has lots of sage advice, but one of my favorite things he’s ever told me is this: life isn’t a straight line. He told me this at my lowest point, soon after my depression and anxiety had surfaced and basically flipped my life on its head. Long story short, I was out of college, out of money, and was staying in bed half the day, doing nothing to make my life more productive. Since I wasn’t in school and not on some job-to-career path, I was, well, depressed. I was convinced that at the rate I was going I was never going to make anything of myself. I was convinced that in a few years I would be living in a friend’s basement, eating Ramen for half of my meals and working 9-5 at some dead-end day job. My father saw my despair, and after a long talk he told me – life isn’t a straight line. What he meant by that is basically things don’t always go as planned. In fact, they rarely do. Life takes sharp corners and turns unexpectedly and slows down and speeds up, but it always reaches the end. Life goes on, and us with it. It may seem obvious to some, but to me at the time, there wasn’t anything better for me to hear. We may not be able to control the “line” completely, but we can plot its course, its general path in the direction of where we want to be someday. Is it easy? Again, rarely. But it’s possible.

So going back to the whole comparison thing – there’s another reason we shouldn’t do it. Nobody’s life takes the same path as another’s – we’ll all be at different points at different times than others. But as long as we know where we want to go, we can get there. It may not be when we want or how we want, but it’s possible. Am I being super cheesy right now? Yeah, probably. But I don’t care, I genuinely believe what I’m saying, and you should too. Nobody, I repeat, nobody is a lost cause, no matter how far past rock bottom they seem to have gone. The zigzaggy, curvy, angled line of life continues. We all continue.

  • Ryan

This too shall pass

The light truly is at the end of the tunnel, you just need to keep walking.

I don’t think I could live without my Spotify account. To say that music is a means of release for me would be a massive understatement – whether it’s listening to a song that describes exactly what I’m feeling, or listening to one that just says what I need to hear at that point in time, music is such a universal outlet. I don’t play any instruments or sing, but I know that many would agree with me saying just listening to music is therapy in itself.

For those who don’t know, Spotify is like a better version of iTunes where, instead of paying for each song individually, you pay a monthly subscription fee for unlimited access to all music. Through my job, I get a free Spotify subscription, but even if I didn’t I’d be more than willing to pay the $7.99/month or so for it. Spotify even has a free subscription, where you can’t download songs, but you can listen to (I believe) anything as long as you have an internet connection.

But I digress – this isn’t an advertisement for Spotify. This is where I mean to go with this – Spotify has this thing called Discover Weekly where, based on the songs already in your library, it gives you a list of 30 songs each week that it thinks you might like. My music taste is super varied – I’ll listen to a great many things. As such, my Discover Weekly is quite a grab bag when it comes to genre. Once in a while, though, the program will come through and give me a gem. This happened last night as I was listening to the songs it gave me for this week.

The song was simply entitled “This Too Shall Pass,” by an artist I’d never heard of before, Sinclair. To be completely honest, it isn’t the type of song I’d normally listen to – a simple, almost quirky song (what I’d consider a Zooey Deschanel-type song), but this one hit me for whatever reason. I didn’t have a particularly bad day or anything yesterday, but my anxiety makes it so that each day has, to at least some degree, some form of worrying.

The song itself doesn’t mention anxiety in any form, but it doesn’t have to. As the title suggests, the song basically sets the scene for someone in an unspecified bad situation worrying about what comes next. The chorus is simply: “I don’t know when, but I do know that, this too shall pass.”

Obvious? Yeah, probably. Nothing, whether it be good or bad, lasts forever. But I know I speak for many when I say that it’s easier to forget that than many others might think. In the heat of a situation which spikes anxiety, many of us quite simply don’t care that “this too shall pass” in time, we just want to be out of the anxiety-inducing situation ASAP. It’s easy to talk about patience and not panicking when we aren’t in a situation that requires patience or calm. It’s a hell of a lot harder to reassure ourselves in the heat of the moment, though.

It’s quite often difficult to see that light at the end of the tunnel. All we care about then is that we’re in the dark, alone with our harmful thoughts, and for many of us that is simply terrifying. For those of us suffering from it, anxiety loves to make us picture the worst situation possible – in the present or future. Even if you “make it through” this, what’s to say that I won’t bring it up again in your head? With anxiety, it feels like we’re never entirely free from these thoughts, even on our best days. The gnawing bite of anxiety threatens to sneak up on us at anytime, anywhere.

So how exactly do we combat this type of thinking? For me, anxiety is, I genuinely feel, the hardest thing to deal with. As someone who suffers from both anxiety and depression, I’d snap them away in a heartbeat if I could. But, if I could only choose one to vanquish, it’d be anxiety, every time. Yeah, depression is bad. Really bad. Low self-esteem and a sense of overarching worthlessness is terrible. But I still have my good days, where I can push my depression aside and focus on the silver linings in my life. Anxiety though….it’s always there. Even in the most inane, illogical situations my anxiety will find a way to worm into my head and make me think of things I never thought possible. To an outsider, how I come up with these worries must seem as random as grabbing names out of a hat – hell, for all I know they basically are. But the fact of the matter is I do worry about these inane things. I can tell myself that my worries are completely unfounded over and over and over again, but it still doesn’t help me stop worrying about them.

I’m not a hateful person. I was taught growing up to never use the word hate unless I truly meant hate, and to this day I still very rarely use the word, outwardly or internally. But it’s safe to say that I have never come so close to hating something as I do my anxiety. I despise it. Some days I just want to bang my fists against the wall, asking why I can’t just have one damn day where my anxiety doesn’t crawl around in my head. I’ve accepted the fact that I have anxiety and I always will, but still. For me, it doesn’t make it any easier.

If I could list some definitive methods here for pushing anxiety aside on a daily basis I would. I’ve taken medication for anxiety, gone to therapy, tried multiple outlets to release my worries…and these things helped. Truly, they did. But I’m not going to lie to you or myself by saying that these made my anxious thoughts disappear. However weak they may have been, they were still there. As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts, I cannot stress how important I believe it is to find an outlet to begin to release these fears. I guarantee you, there is something out there that will trump that anxiety, because in the end, your mind knows that it needs to concentrate on something good, as opposed to all the bad. For me, that “thing” is nature. Just going for a 30 minute walk in the woods does wonders for combatting my anxiety. The trees and dirt and streams don’t care about my stress at work or my anxiety over some presentation I have to make, and that’s strangely comforting to me.

I may be calling the kettle black here, but if you suffer from anxiety and haven’t found that outlet quite yet, the best thing you can do whilst looking for it is remember: this too shall pass. Yes, I did say earlier that it doesn’t help cure my anxiety – nothing likely will. But if you’re struggling like I am, trying to find that something to hold on to that, in the end, remember everything will be okay. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help, therapists or otherwise. Music truly is therapy in itself – turn on a good tune. Take a day for yourself.

I know that anxiety is running rampant this time of year, being in the midst of the holidays. I feel it too, believe me. But I’ll pull through. You’ll pull through. This too shall pass. Stay strong.

  • Ryan

 

You’re worth so much

Despite what society feels fit to tell you

I use the word ‘worth’ a lot in my posts. It’s one of my favorite, but at the same time, least favorite words. It’s one of my favorite words because worth is something everyone has, whether they realize it or not. There are no varying degrees of worth, there is simply worth. You are a god-given human life, you have a soul, a conscious, and no one thing or other person can replace you. Whether you realize it or not, you have inherent value simply because you have a beating heart.

So why is a word that describes something so beautiful also one of my least favorite words? Simply put, the definition of ‘worth’ has been so incredibly skewered by human society that we’ve lost the true meaning of the word. When we talk about society as a whole seeing your worth, what exactly are they searching for? Money, career, social status, living conditions, clothes…the list goes on. Your “usefulness” to society is seen by what you can contribute to it, whether it be through your career, your money, your connections. In far too many people’s eyes, worth is nearly nonexistent if it doesn’t directly affect people other than yourselves. People jump to America as being the prime culprit of this mindset, but in reality most first-world countries subscribe to this way of thinking. Society doesn’t see worth as inherent value present in everyone regardless of their personal situation, but instead sees it as a tool; a ranking system for determing who is the more important individual.

I’m sure that many of you have heard this spiel before, but in my personal experience it’s one of the hardest to actually take to heart. You can tell somebody that they’re worth something a hundred times over, but when a large chunk of (generally fairly prevelant) society tells you your worth is based on matching or beating the status quo, then who is prone to have the larger voice? The multi-billionaire sitting in his high rise with all the luxuries of the modern world, who society sees as more worth their time, or the average person in their 1-2 bedroom apartment, just making enough to pay rent?

It’s not often that I’ll come straight out and say that something so engrained in our society is wrong, but this is absolutely one of those times. Society’s definition of worth sets the bar the same height for nearly everybody, not taking into account familial, monetary, or health situations. What does that mean for somebody who grew up in a slum, whose family is so poor that they can’t even afford community college? Even though that person doesn’t physically have the materials needed to get simple access to the same opportunities as someone else, it makes no difference. You have money, or your don’t. Worth vs. worthlessness. You have a PhD, or you don’t. Worth vs. worthlessness. You have a spacious house, or you don’t. I repeat, worth vs. worthlessness.

That. Is. Bullshit. Worth is inherent to every human being on this earth; a poverty-stricken individual has just as much capacity for good as a person with millions of dollars does. Is that ‘easy’ to see? I don’t know. Maybe not. But it’s there. That worth is there, whether or not they choose to accept it. It’s so damn tragic that so, so many people will go through this life without realizing they had even the slightest bit of worth, simply because a brainwashed society told them they didn’t. I know it isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers and then seeing the light that is your inherent value appear before your eyes. It’s especially easy to forget that value when something bad happens to us or someone we care about – a death, a breakup, being fired from a job – even something as simple as having a nasty thing said to you. But, in the same way society cannot take away your worth just by saying you don’t have any, no one action or failed relationship can take it away either.

In your darkest times, please try and remember that. Unless you stop being a human being, you will never stop having worth. To yourself, to others, and even to society (even if they don’t realize or accept it). 

So…whenever I talk about worth, that’s what I mean. Not your social status, not your bank account or education, but your value as a human life. Oh, and if you don’t buy my spiel? Too bad! You have worth just by being, and even if you deny that, it’s still there. If you can’t point it out to yourself, then let someone else do it with you. Talk to your friends, your family, your significant other, spend time with your pets, do something you’re really good at. I say this in nearly every post, but don’t be afraid to reach out to me, either. Send me an email or write a comment on here and I’ll get back to you. 

Like I mentioned before, I know it isn’t easy. There are times when I mentally break down because I feel like I have no value, to others or the world around me. But I jump back from that mindset, because I do have worth. Despite what happened to me on a crappy work day, or what stupid thing I might’ve said in the heat of the moment, I’m a person. I remember that, and so should you.

Stay strong.

– Ryan

Understanding people with depression and/or anxiety

Interacting with a person with depression and/or anxiety can be a large beast to tackle. A lack of understanding for what some people go through is common in our society. Hopefully this post can help a bit.

For people who have no history or experiences with mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety, understanding how to approach individuals with these ways of thinking can be difficult. For some who grew up in a family where depression and anxiety have been passed down for a few generations, it can be easier. Having people around you, whether they be family or friends, who know and can relate to how your mind works can be a great support. However, not everyone has this luxury.

What about people who have no idea how depression affects the mind? People who don’t understand why people suffering from anxiety worry about seemingly the most miniscule things? Although it may not seem like a big deal, interacting with sufferers of these mental illnesses in a way that doesn’t escalate their feelings of depression or anxiety can make the receiver’s life a whole lot easier.

So how can those of us who have mental health issues help those who don’t? The logical first step would be to simply say that our minds don’t work the same way yours do on a daily basis. With no desire on our part, our minds can turn the tiniest molehill into a mountain, without any “logical” explanation. Whether that be beating ourselves up mentally for something that happened three years ago or worrying about something that, frankly, probably doesn’t need to really be worried about, our minds will make it so we do. I cannot stress enough that this is from no choice of our own. 9/10ths of it is simply brain chemistry. If you’re interested, it’s incredibly easy to find articles and pictures online of the differences between a “normal” brain and a brain with mental illnesses affecting it. So, from the science-y side of things, the chemicals in our brains are all out of whack. Whoops.

On a more personal level, we know we’re this way. We know we shouldn’t worry about Thing A. or beat ourselves up for Thing B. But we do it anyway. I’m certain I speak for nearly all of us suffering from these mental illnesses when I say: if we could snap our fingers and make this affliction evaporate into thin air, we’d do it. But alas, is life ever that simple? (Spoiler alert: no). We’re aware that all logic tells us not to dwell on these inane things, but we do anyway.

I could give you a list of advice for dealing with sufferers of these illnesses, but I won’t do that. There are some fantastic bloggers on here that have created comprehensive, thought-out lists on that subject, and I’ve no wish to usurp them. I’d just like to add my two cents to the conversation.

The best, and I mean best thing anyone can do for someone like me is make an effort to understand where they’re coming from. I know you aren’t going to get all of the anatomy and psyiology behind it – nobody should expect you to. Just remember that sometimes, even when it’s the most inconvienient time, our minds will take everything out of proportion. Whether it’s worrying, panicking, crying, reclusiveness…it’s all fair game.

If you take one thing away from this post, let it be this: understand that you’ll never be able to fully understand us. Hell, sometimes we don’t fully understand us. But we begin to recover when we understand that not everything can be whittled down to logic and brain chemistry, and we only ask that you do the same. If we somehow get on your last nerve with our actions or words, I apologize for all of us. Trying to attribute everything a depression/anxiety-riddled mind does to logic is a lost cause. We’re imperfect, we know that. But so is everyone. Accept us for our odd tendencies, and we’ll accept you for yours.

– Ryan