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.