Mental Health isn’t a dick-measuring contest.
I’ve seen Fight Club enough times to know how not to avoid group-therapy sessions; for they offer free cookies and occasionally I might bump into another lost soul in search of the root cause of our mental imbalance.
We’ve bonded over time and collectively shared moments of, “OH I DO THAT TOO!”
Lately though, my relationship with group therapy has turned bitter sweet; not because the people have changed or the new cookie recipe is shit, but because it seems like we all keep comparing our pasts and our diagnosis to one another and its bled into my life beyond the confines of our bi-weekly encounters.
To most, I’m an interesting character study — a muse of sorts.
“Tell me more…” they say, people love hearing stories of my shortcomings and consoling me that “Hey, that sounds kinda cool…”
Yes, vomiting and shaking uncontrollably in the middle of the night is “cool” buddy.
Some have even found film characters they think my story reminds them of, “…that guy from that Robin Williams movie, you know?”.
No I don’t know…please tell me for the 586th time.
Mental health has become the new “hip” thing to muse over, it’s the equivalent of a brand-new cut-throat Netflix Murder-Documentary; people just can’t seem to get enough of it.
Whilst Hollywood has been doing their thing for a while to take Mental Health to the next level of dogmatic fanaticism, it’s not just the repetitive stance “It’s okay to not be okay” that seems to have been misplaced; it’s “It’s not okay to be okay”.
We’re drawn to idiosyncrasies and character flaws, finding a label for them is quite amusing to the world of fantasy; yet no one wants an up close view.
We want the drama, from a safe distance — just that no one wants to be a part of it or hold accountable the standards through which it should be viewed.
I find myself in a constant back and forth of, “My disease is far worse than yours…” — something akin to “I wasn’t actually listening, I just wanted to accommodate my world view”.
The constant discourse of “…I went through something similar” isn’t consoling, but rather patronising when every one seems to be comparing prescriptions with one another as though they’re Pokemon Cards.
Whilst individuals who seem to take pleasure in touting their prescription meds and some that even engage in using them for “recreational purposes”, I find myself at the bitter end where I’d rather just get rid of it all entirely.
Dependance and mental disorders aren’t fun, they’re not superpowers, and they’re certainly nothing to muse over; they’re ugly, distasteful, and often lead to long-term characters flaws which only look cool when portrayed in a Jack Nicholson movie.
Up close, I’m no fun; most days I wish for it to end, and oversharing or attracting sympathy isn’t my forte.
To get told to get over it, or how someone has it far worse has the same meaning as being told “There’s kids starving in Africa”; I know they are, but I’m certainly not in the business of comparing my livelihood to others.
As much as I wish I could end hunger in Africa, I struggle to remember if I took the right meds today; and God help me if I forgot to refill my prescription in time.
The agony of having to wait for the next appointment, and coming up with excuses for why I missed the last session; is a never-ending battle.
A coup d’état between the therapist and me, disguised by undertones of coffee breath and scribblings on a notepad.
Discussing my experience with panic attacks with strangers, who seem far too amused by my illness as though I’m sharing tales of how I climbed Mount Everest; ending with them sharing their experience of how that scene in The Departed with Leonardo DiCaprio banging his hot therapist was a fantasy they’d love to live — except my therapist is a rather elderly fella who often keeps me guessing as to when he’s actually awake or nodding off.
“…But have you seen Maniac?! That was a sick show. People with mental illnesses are just so much more fascinating that normal people”, sure are buddy; keep jerking off to “Hot therapist bangs patient with Anxiety Disorder”.