Fortunately for me this is not something I hear very often, but I know other people face these comments & acrions against them daily.
For some people when we talk about the battles we’ve fought that day you’ll hear things like:
- You’ve just got to deal with it
- Everyone else has to & can
- Stop feeling sorry for yourself
- It’s been a while now, you need to start moving on
- You need to change the way you think
- You’re so lucky
- People have it so much worse than you
What people don’t realise is, just like when you’ve broken your arm, you can’t control the recovery, however much you’d like to be back in the driving seat, literally with a broken arm. There may be an X-ray, a pot, a sling, a process, but you have no control. Also no-one would expect you to go bowling with it & if you said, “I’ll come along & watch, but it’s probably too soon, it’ll do more harm than good if I try to use my arm this way”, people would allow you to sit back & enjoy it from a distance. There might be the odd joke that you’d do anything to get out of bowling because you’re so bad, but no-one is judging you openly or secretly about that injury that can be physically seen.
However far we’ve come in raising awareness on mental health illness & wellness (it’s so important to remember we can be mentally our mental health just like our physical health), people still judge what they don’t understand. It’s not even what they can’t see, it’s what they don’t understand.
A couple of months ago I perforated my ear drum, & it turns out it’s not healing, it may need surgery. Everyone I have met has offered oodles of sympathy, compassion & not once have I been made to feel like I could have made it better quicker. It “should” heal in 6-8 weeks & it hasn’t, but I don’t feel that anyone thinks I’m playing the victim, that I’ve caused a delay in the recovery process or that I’m dragging it out.
My mental health is a completely different story. I feel like the bereavement & grief process for my in-laws, mum & best friend are measured & my slow time to deal with these situations are constantly judged. Just to be honest & open, now & in the present, I don’t want to “get over” any of their deaths. None of them were fair, none were deserved & I feel like me & my family are living a different life without them all. Are we getting on with life? Absolutely. We’ve changed the way we live & are often much more about the present day, the experience & memories. I take more photos than anyone I know. Has it impacted our lives, yes & do I wish daily for a different ending, yes.. it’s like I go to bed some nights & think, tomorrow I’ll wake up & this will all be a dream & my kids won’t have had to experience so much loss & death at such a young age. Like watching a film, or the highlights of the England World Cup semi-final & hoping it will change.
I win so many battles every day that I’m reluctant to share. Most of those just involve getting out of bed, showered, dressed & our of the door to work or any other event. I’m not a victim, I’m far from a victim & if that’s what people think when they see me, then they don’t know me at all. I’m a fighter, battling a low mood, anxiety, self doubt & racing thoughts everyday. Sometimes I do this with little or no sleep, other illnesses like a burst ear drum (only me?!) & early menopause, whilst trying to parent two children, hold down a job, study, raise awareness for this condition & others, be a wife & where I can do some housework. While all along my main focus is letting my kids see you can do it! Because I can & I’m learning to do it better everyday. But this doesn’t mean I’m better or than I won’t have bad, really bad & simply horrific days.
I am not a victim!
I am a warrior!
And a warrior that wins more than she fails!
4 thoughts on “When people say you’re “Playing the victim”, when actually you’re a warrior who is winning battles daily”
Completely identified with this brilliant post. At the risk of being very controversial, I sometimes wonder whether the mental health awareness campaigns such as ‘Heads Together’ can occasionally do more harm than good: especially for people with more complex or co morbid conditions, as in my experience often people can become amateur therapists or the other extreme they sometimes panic and say ‘get more therapy’ ‘maybe your doctor needs to change your meds’ at a time when you just needed support, friendship and a sympathetic ear. The boundaries can get somewhat blurred.
I’d like to say; leave the therapy and advice to the mental health professionals just as you would leave chemotherapy advice to the oncologist. What chronic mental health sufferers need from their friends and family is love, validation and reassurance that even if sometimes we are not the life and soul of the party that they don’t love us any less.
Keep going with these brilliant posts Sarah!
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Thank you so much & I wholeheartedly agree. People mean well but often trigger us by saying things that aren’t helpful. It’s hard to be a friend to someone with mental health illnesses so I don’t blame them, it’s just that we need to realise we’re winning battles every day. Xx
Tell me about it, just won the getting out of bed and having a shower battle. Success!
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Well done Sian – these are wins & we need to be proud of ourselves when we achieve them