“Suck it up,” she said half sarcastically as a joke, half smart-assed as I sat on the bench with my head in my hands, knees uncontrollably bouncing up and down, as if my legs were about to break off and run away without me. All noise has been shut off around me, and the only focus I have is on my breathing–trying desperately to get myself to calm down. People keep talking around me, trying their best to soothe me, but I don’t hear a word of what they’re saying.
“Please, everyone, I just need you to back away from me for a minute, or I will seriously freak out,” I finally said, sternly enough to make everyone hold their breathe all at once for a brief second. “I’m having a panic attack.”
“Why are you having a panic attack?” she scoffs at me. As if I could even truly answer this. Like she expects me to be able to calmly describe to her why exactly it is that I am about to jump out of my own skin–when I don’t even know how the hell to describe it. She wouldn’t understand even if I tried. So I don’t… knowing full and well she will roll her eyes, and label me as weak and dramatic.
But that’s how some people are. They can’t grasp the concept that mental illnesses, no matter the degree of suffering, is an actual problem. So instead of showcasing even the slightest bit of empathy toward you, they shake their heads and laugh–thinking to themselves (or even sometimes saying aloud), “There are far worse problems that you could be worrying about,” “You’re just seeking attention,” “You’re being dramatic,” “Get over it.” The list goes on. What they don’t realize is, if we could just “GET OVER IT,” don’t you think we would?
Tell me, how does one fake feeling as though they are having a heart attack, feeling as if their airways are closing, their body is shutting down, yet at the same time wants to run far, far away? Aside from actors and people who happen to be extremely manipulative and persuasive, any person who has suffered from true anxiety and panic attacks know full and well how excruciating it is. But for those who are lucky enough to never have had to deal with such problems, they will never truly grasp what sufferers go through.
Because it’s uncomfortable to talk about, isn’t it? Depression. Mental illness. Suicide. It makes people squirm in their seats. It’s not as though you can meet up with someone, have them ask you how you’ve been, and you casually respond, “You know, I’ve been really depressed lately.” Instead, we’ve been trained to lie or sugarcoat what’s truly going on. “I’ve been okay,” is the safe response. It doesn’t strike questions; it’s not completely lying. No one wonders about “okay.”
Mental illness just has a sour taste to it. It’s almost difficult to get out. And when usually talking about mental illness, people tend to take it to the extreme. Schizophrenia. Psychosis. Multiple personality disorder. Suicide either tugs on people’s heart strings, or completely fuels their fire about how selfish and cowardly it is of the person who was suffering so deeply they felt the only way out was to end their existence. Because those who suffer depression bring it upon themselves. There are far worse things in the world than what we struggle with. That’s the assumption.
Yet, we live in a world where it’s socially acceptable to fully showcase your ass and tits on multiple social media sites. Where men speak openly about degrading women in so many ways, but speaking openly about depression and mental heath causes people to stir in their seat, searching desperately for a new topic to discuss. We live in a culture where bad bitches and side chicks are given more respect than the girl who cries herself to sleep every night, because she’s the “crazy” one, the one dealing with real emotions deeper than the kind you get from spreading your legs open on a Saturday night. We’re living in a time where men are praised for bagging multiple bitches a week, yet the men who are suffering to make it through the day are put to shame–told to be a man, just let it go.
We live in a world where we’re put down for feeling weak… for being human. We are treated as if we are selfish for being so out of control of our emotions that we just want to hide away for a while until you don’t feel so empty inside–because other people out there in the world have it worse. They tell us there are people being shot, people fighting wars, those struggling with poverty, genocide, slavery, cancer… you name it. As if we don’t realize this already. As though we don’t already feel full to the brim with guilt for the fact that most of us have food on our table, a roof over our head, a job, clean water, average health, yet still feel as though our lives are meaningless.
We are not selfish. We see the pain in others and feel it just as deeply. We know that what most other people deal with is far worse, and we can empathize with them. Offer them some sympathy. If we could, we would make it all go away in the blink of an eye. We would wish that any one else suffering, no matter how extreme or minuscule the problem they are suffering is, would just disappear. We would never wish it upon anyone else.
People say they are here to help, yet more often than not, end up pushing those in need down even further. Telling them to just get over it. To think more positively.