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Dee Tak says
On a lighter note, Mal makes me think of Malcom from Sam and Fuzzy’s band Noosehead.
Is that realistic? Why would her day be ruined over others’ success when she has just experienced success of her own? If she just experienced a failure or if the other person had some success beyond certain expectations, then it would make sense.
It’s partly knowing how far back in the game of life you are when people you shared the same starting line with are so far ahead of you. It’s also partly that someone else is living her dream. And finally, it’s partly that someone in her life is far more successful in life without her in it. All this combined makes her feel like a failure.
Exactly how Clay put it. Sometimes the success of others can give you a toxic “what if” to life without mental illness, especially if they’re from your past. Like if you came from a similar starting place, but you experienced setbacks due to illness, and they continued straight forward with fewer obstacles. It’s not to undermine their hard work, but it can still leave your feeling bitter about your own illness. Your brain likes to remind you that, “You could have done that too if you tried harder, or really wanted it, or if you stopped feeling sorry for yourself,” even if that’s not necessarily true.
That’s why social media like Facebook can be a field of landmines for people with mental illness. People only present their best selves on FB, so we only get snapshots of their successes. Even if we *are* proud of our accomplishments, they can feel dwarfed by others’. We can feel left behind because we compare our lives to others’. We “should” be further along on our life journey like our peers seem to be. We don’t see their struggles, we just know our own.
Matteo A says
It’s about crushing comparison. We live in a judgemental world, and our skills and talents can make or break our lives. It’s very difficult to maintain a sense of pride or healthy self-esteem and self-value when you know that even the best of your accomplishments is worth almost nothing against only _one_ of the varied talents your former peers have.
There are many aspects of this:
– the feelings of overwhelming inferiority and worthlessness, that there’s something wrong with you, that there’s no justification for being so weak
– constant attempts to find a reason for why one performed so badly in life with respect to everyone else
– the knowledge that your inferiority (especially if intellectual) will cause your thoughts, opinions and works to be objectively less valuable in society than those who are greater than you are, leaving you feeling as though it is pointless to make a contribution – the modern world tends to value and remember only the best
– a sense of injustice at the vast gulf in capabilities between you and other humans, especially when justified by determinist philosophy
– the knowledge that past behaviour best predicts future behaviour, and that the kinds of people who will go on to be great men and women invariably demonstrate qualities that you know you don’t have, so your dreams are unrealistic
– inability to tolerate failure, as you already feel so useless all the time that you can’t take further knocks
– real economic/financial and life goal consequences for having no worth
This can also be turned up to eleven by other factors. In my case, the “successful person” as represented in this comic was a highly gifted student who had a significant hand in my own fall, but was shielded by authority figures because of their intellectual superiority over me. That person is now a rising force in the field of economics as well as very highly proficient in multiple other disciplines. To see the success of someone who could easily have saved you with their abilities but chose to watch, patronize and laugh as you were consumed… to see a person with so little heart lauded in such a way, and to feel that you’re the only person who knows and recognises the underlying truth… and to know that the only reason the gap is so wide is because of that person’s actions… combine those additional factors with the basic premise of this comic and you end up with something that’s utterly soul-destroying.
Is that realistic? Yes it is. It’s even worse when lady society had expectations for you and blames you for not living up to them.
Thanks for the guilt pamphlet, btw.
I have friends from my past that I want to get reacquainted with, but I can only view their successes as a reinforcement of my failures so I just leave everybody in the past.
As a grad student I taught undergrad classes, which was about the time my mental illness really kicked in. While it was great seeing my students graduate with their undergrad and enter the same grad program I was in, it was a gut punch when they also began, one-by-one, graduating with their Masters degrees before me.
And to make matters weirder, my trauma therapist got her Master’s degree at my university at the same time that my academic career’s crash was finalizing itself.
Erica A. says
Depression, it’s a hell of an illness.
Reina Maxine says
Every time I hear the statistics of how # out of every ___ people my age (or older) are struggling with/don’t have ________ (ex. finding full time work after graduating, getting paid a living wage, their dream home, no debts, etc.) I always wonder, ”Then how is it all the people I know happen to be the other % of people that do have those things?”
depression comix says
Because a statistic samples a diverse group of people, and the people we know tend to be very similar to ourselves and within our own social strata.