Or why it will never be ok to be different.

I’ve been mulling this post over in my head for a while now but have avoided posting it in case I cause offence/come across even more crazy than usual. But right now I have a horrible cold and have had a bad day so sleep seems out of the question and I’ve nothing better to be doing (well there are probably lots of vaguely productive things I could be doing but they can wait).

This all comes back to a discussion I was having with various members of my family and assorted hangers on at a party over Easter. I can’t remember what lead up to it but someone turned round with “I don’t see how anyone can see things in black and white, that’s stupid”. This wasn’t aimed at me in any way but I felt the need to defend how I think and feel and realised I couldn’t. I just do see in black and white, I know it’s stupid and indefensible but I do it. Which led to the statement “Just stop then”. Oh if only things were thast simple.

The problem is that mental health problems are such a taboo and so far outside most people’s sphere of understanding (despite the whole 1 in 4 etc), that people make judgements on a persons behaviour or actions without thinking of any deeper reason or explanation behind them. And I know this sounds blindingly obvious now but it had never really occurred to me before. And when we judge, we stop looking for a reason, an explanation for an action or behaviour. We choose to look at things from our own perspective without trying to understand how it must be to see things so differently and to be unable to change it. And from these judgements comes prejudice and from that comes discrimination.

So far, so safe. It’s the next bit I’m worried about. I’m going to talk about eating disorders so if that sort of thing triggers or upsets you I suggest you stop here.

So, there I was, horrified by the judgements people make of me without bothering to understand. But I’d never do that right, I’m fair and unbiased. But a few days later I was reading a post on Lola’s blog and realised I was doing the self same. Just for a while, I wanted to turn round and say “I don’t see how anyone can choose not to eat enough, that’s stupid”. And there I was, judging. It was so easy and had these ideas not been occupying my mind, I wouldn’t even have realised I was doing it.

I’ve never had an eating disorder, it’s one of those things outside my sphere of understnading. Saying that, for a term at university, I only ate one small meal a day if that. I can’t remember why I started and I can’t remember why I stopped again but I did it. But htis post isn’t about things I’ve done, I only include that slight anecdote to show that if I can judge someone so easily when I’ve been so close myself, how can I expect others to not judge me?

And I don’t know what the answer is to that. I can see the harm that judgements cause. They act to exclude people through a simple lack of understanding and the real problem is that most the time we don’t even realise we’re doing it.  And while these judgements happen, whether conscious or not, there will never be a full understanding or acceptance of mental health conditions.

So from now on I’m going to try and judge less, to try and really understand why someone behaves the way in which they do rather than listening on the surface but then interpreting it as if they were me.

I’m not sure this makes a lot of sense, I guess I’m more tired than I thought but I hope that somewhere in the rambling my point came though. And Lola, I apologise for picking on you, it was just the eloquence of your writing that made me see what I was doing.


3 Responses to Judging

  1. Chapati says:

    I just think it’s just really difficult for people to relate to something they’ve never had to deal with, but I think it can be solved individually if you can find someone who can explain their thought process or what they have been through, and are willing to listen carefully. I reckon blogging, or even just reading books, helps widen the sphere of understanding; people are a lot more honest and patient at explaining what they wouldn’t do in real life.

  2. Lola Snow says:

    I think as a rule reading about ED’s does that to people anyway, black and white thinker or not. It’s one of the most natural things in the world, and almost offends human nature. People assume it’s a choice, and I think to a degree the sufferer still deludes themself that they are “choosing” not to eat. It is incredibly offensive to a great deal of people, to watch someone starving themselves to death. Hence the huge amount of comments I get about “starving children in Africa” and “just eat more” The thing is, if it was as simple as “Just eat more” then that’s what we’d do. No one wants to live in hell like this, but the nature of the disorder, also black and white thinking to a degree, means it’s just not that simple. In the same way as you think “Just choose to eat”, I think “Eating=bad” it’s the same level of emotional arousal, that leaves that horrible dirty helpless feeling in your gut.

    I think the thing is, I take the same tack with myself. I was trying to work out today if someone offered me 20 million quid, if I’d be able to promise to be ED behaviour free for the rest of my life. Think of the life you could live with that amount of cash! But the sad thing is I realised I couldn’t do it. My brain’s just made differently. Just like yours is. You can’t help it either,


    Lola x

  3. aims says:

    Having taken a vacation on the psyche ward – I’ve discovered that our brains aren’t under our command. It will take a stroll through lolly land if it wants to and it will decide if it wants to smell the flowers or eat them.

    Judging is human nature. It’s easier to make a judgement than change.

    I think making an active effort NOT to judge is admirable. Good for you for recognizing this habit.

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