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What 'Comparison Is the Thief of Joy' Means to Me as Someone With Depression

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The saying goes, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

In reality, comparison steals so much more than that, including compassion.

The other day, I was messaging a friend of mine and I told him I wanted to make plans because I was feeling down and lonely. Instead of understanding and being willing to grab dinner with me like I had hoped, he sent me a graph of child mortality around the world and told me I should be grateful I have even made it to live 23 years old and that I was “fine.”

Hot tears sprung into my eyes and my face went red with frustration.

Reading those words sent from someone who is supposed to be part of my support system was heartbreaking. Not only did it make me feel even more alone, but it also made me feel invalidated and guilty — like I didn’t have a right to feel the way I did. I regretted reaching out and shut down the conversation right there.

One of the biggest things I try to practice in my life is compassion. I try to live by the motto, “Everyone has the right to feel what they feel.”

This started back when I was in ninth grade. My grandpa passed away around the same time one of my neighbors’ dad passed away. A couple weeks later, my friends and I were working on homework and they were joking around and I was being very quiet. One of my friends turned to me and said, “[Your neighbor] just lost his dad and he’s back to being himself, so you have no reason not to snap out of it too.” I looked at him with the same hot tears and flushed face, packed up my things and walked away without saying a word.

Most people would agree that grief cannot be compared. One person losing a grandfather should not have any less significance than another person losing a father.

If that is the case, why should anyone think differently about mental health?

I was able to move past the grief of losing my grandpa, but anxiety and depression are not things that anyone can just “get over.” Just because I am feeling upset or anxious does not mean I am not grateful for everything I have. It just means I was given an extra challenge in my life that is no one’s fault and I am just trying to manage it as best as I can.

Regardless of whether you have a chronic mental illness or you are just having an isolated bad mental health day, you should never feel guilty about it. You should never feel like you’re not allowed to feel a certain way because others have it worse than you. This is something my therapist has been telling me for a while and I am just now starting to believe for myself.

Similarly, if someone you know opens up to you about how they are feeling, always have compassion. It doesn’t matter if it seems like they have it all from your perspective because you have no idea what is going on in their minds. Be an active listener and show them you care and they matter.

One person’s anthill is another person’s mountain. Just please remember whether an anthill or mountain, everyone is allowed their own emotions and feelings.

Getty Images photo via liza5450

Originally published: March 19, 2018
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