Ever had someone throw out the classic ‘There’s people starving in Africa and you think you’ve got it hard?’ or ‘There’s people with much worse mental and physical disability’s than you and they cope!’ line? I know I have and I’m pretty sure most people suffering from any mental health problem has! I understand why people use that line because it is true there probably are people ten times worse of than I am or any of us are, but that doesn’t change how we feel. As long as we know we have some things to be grateful for and can recognise we aren’t the worst off person in the world that’s all that matters. Unfortunately whether we can recognise that or not does not change our situations and the mental struggles we go through, telling someone this will only make them feel guilty, worthless and very alone for not being able to cope with their situation when there are people struggling more than themselves.
Using this comparison is like a friend coming to me after they’ve broken up with their boyfriend, being in floods of tears needing someone to be there for them and me simply saying ‘Your crying over a break up when I have to fight OCD everyday?’ I would never dream of saying that. It’s not a competition and at the end of the day whether I have OCD or am going through tougher times than my friend, it doesn’t change the fact she is upset and needs someone. If it was as easy as someone telling you about how Joe Bloggs down the road is coping with such and such a problem better than you and they have it worse off, then everyone would be ok. If saying this helped or shocked people into thinking they shouldn’t be depressed or not working or giving into OCD rituals etc everyone would get better very quickly. I can’t say to my brain ‘OCD did you hear that, there’s someone worse off than me, there for you should stop bugging me now and making me depressed’ it just has a negative effect and makes me feel stupid and guilty.
At the end of the day there will always be someone worse of than you in life, but this doesn’t make what your upset about or struggling with any less. You are still struggling and there’s no switch to switch that emotion off, you can be grateful that you don’t have that other persons situation and maybe take some positivity from the fact you have things a little better but it’s not going to change your situation. I know sometimes you feel like someone’s over dramatizing their problems when you have a lot more stuff going on but try to remember what they feel is real and although it may or may not be as bad as what you’re going through, they still need someone and making them feel bad about feeling the way they do won’t help and at the end of the day everyone deals with stuff differently!