When people vent they have a habit of interrupting themselves to say that they should be grateful for what they have in life. Almost as if they’re embarrassed to not hold every problem inside. I can see why people do this. Growing up a lot of us were probably told to count our blessings in response to us voicing difficulties we face. Or had our problems compared to someone who was thought to be suffering more than ourselves.
For a long time our society has taught people that to voice their troubles is a sign of weakness. I believe this is a problematic pattern of thinking that encourages people to hide from our problems rather than voicing them honestly which would allow us to confront them. It holds us back from being able to grow and for people suffering with depression or other mental illnesses this can be very dangerous.
Many times in the past when I needed to vent about the troubles that came along with my depression and BPD I would be told to just be grateful. That there were people in the world who were actually suffering. Not only did this diminish my experiences but it also made me less likely to seek help even when I was suicidal.
The assertion was that my depression and BPD weren’t really life altering illnesses but more of a mindset. If I were to just change my outlook and be more grateful my mental health issues would disappear. Since I did not want to appear ungrateful I would just remain quiet while my mental state deteriorated.
The problem is a lot of people confuse someone needing help or wanting to process their issues as someone who is simply lazy and would rather be miserable than take an active role in changing their life. However, a person can’t change something that they don’t feel comfortable even acknowledging exists. Another issue is that a lot of people don’t understand what it means to be genuinely grateful.
Being grateful shouldn’t entail a denial of your mental illness. It should not be because you are happy that someone else is suffering more than you. It should happen because you are able to recognize that there are still good parts about life even when you’re suffering.
Teaching someone to be silent about their suffering will not teach them to be thankful about life. Suggesting that gratitude will cure mental illnesses will just prevent someone from reaching out when they need help. Telling someone that they should be grateful others are suffering more will cause them to be less sympathetic to themselves and to others. We must learn how to encourage people to see the joys in life without telling them to deny the parts of life that are not joyful.
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