Misery Loves Company - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-17-2020, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Misery Loves Company


People like to provide comfort with the ideas like 'you are not alone in feeling this way,' or 'everyone has their struggles' so you shouldn't feel down about having your own, or my least favorite 'others have it worse.' I find it has the opposite effect, its depressing to think that most people deal with one of a variety of issues. That so many people can relate, means the human condition sucks.

I think that it is a developmental thing humans go through, some later than others, that at some point you realize you and your problems are not that special. I admit that when I first learned about social anxiety many years ago it was a relief to find other people had the same issue, could relate, and there were strategies for dealing with it. I have from a early age felt its so disheartening that humans still deal with the same stupid stuff over and over again. That it seems almost inevitable that you or someone in your circle will deal with abuse, addiction, or some other common misery. Not only that, that we don't have a sure fire way of passing on to people how to get through it.

I'm not sure the point of this post, but do you find it helpful to realize there are some number of people with a similar struggle as you? How about do you agree and find it helpful to realize most people have had to deal with something in their life which may help them empathize with you even if theirs is a different struggle?

How many happy well-adjusted people are out there in the world? Are other people just better able to cope with their set-backs? What makes them better able to cope?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-17-2020, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by introvert33 View Post
People like to provide comfort with the ideas like 'you are not alone in feeling this way,' or 'everyone has their struggles' so you shouldn't feel down about having your own, or my least favorite 'others have it worse.' I find it has the opposite effect, its depressing to think that most people deal with one of a variety of issues. That so many people can relate, means the human condition sucks.

I think that it is a developmental thing humans go through, some later than others, that at some point you realize you and your problems are not that special. I admit that when I first learned about social anxiety many years ago it was a relief to find other people had the same issue, could relate, and there were strategies for dealing with it. I have from a early age felt its so disheartening that humans still deal with the same stupid stuff over and over again. That it seems almost inevitable that you or someone in your circle will deal with abuse, addiction, or some other common misery. Not only that, that we don't have a sure fire way of passing on to people how to get through it.

I'm not sure the point of this post, but do you find it helpful to realize there are some number of people with a similar struggle as you? How about do you agree and find it helpful to realize most people have had to deal with something in their life which may help them empathize with you even if theirs is a different struggle?

How many happy well-adjusted people are out there in the world? Are other people just better able to cope with their set-backs? What makes them better able to cope?
I couldn't honestly say it helps me at all. I just wish I was stronger and more able to deal with what life throws at me. I know other people struggle too - but it doesn't do anything to change my situation.

People have very different problems too. I was talking to a mate of mine last night who has it pretty hard in many ways - but things just don't seem to get to him at all, they never have. Not in the way they get to me, I know that for sure.

Another friend of mine has had a few things happen in his life that are genuine tragedies - things that are so awful it's hard to imagine dealing with them. But he does.

Personally I think they're just a lot more stable/stronger than I am and they can adjust. I never know how I'm going to feel from one day to the next.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-17-2020, 07:25 PM
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Yeah I never understood how "others have it worse" is supposed to make you feel better. Seems like blatantly taking comfort in someone else's misery.

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I think that it is a developmental thing humans go through, some later than others, that at some point you realize you and your problems are not that special.
I think you're right about this and that I might be regressing in development or something. My problems now feel so unique to me that I feel completely alone and secretly embarrassed when people try to empathize with me. Like my sister finds these talks and articles about introversion that she finds comforting but I don't relate to them (or her) at all. I don't feel like I have much genuine empathy to give either, I'm like a self centered child but without any of the goodness or potential to grow that a child has. I don't know how many well adjusted people there are, but when I come across one I feel very ashamed of myself and jealous of them. For all I know though they might be a mess in their private life - guess it would require empathy to sense that.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-17-2020, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by introvert33 View Post
People like to provide comfort with the ideas like 'you are not alone in feeling this way,' or 'everyone has their struggles' so you shouldn't feel down about having your own, or my least favorite 'others have it worse.' I find it has the opposite effect, its depressing to think that most people deal with one of a variety of issues. That so many people can relate, means the human condition sucks.

I think that it is a developmental thing humans go through, some later than others, that at some point you realize you and your problems are not that special. I admit that when I first learned about social anxiety many years ago it was a relief to find other people had the same issue, could relate, and there were strategies for dealing with it. I have from a early age felt its so disheartening that humans still deal with the same stupid stuff over and over again. That it seems almost inevitable that you or someone in your circle will deal with abuse, addiction, or some other common misery. Not only that, that we don't have a sure fire way of passing on to people how to get through it.

I'm not sure the point of this post, but do you find it helpful to realize there are some number of people with a similar struggle as you? How about do you agree and find it helpful to realize most people have had to deal with something in their life which may help them empathize with you even if theirs is a different struggle?

How many happy well-adjusted people are out there in the world? Are other people just better able to cope with their set-backs? What makes them better able to cope?
And to answer that part - there are lots of them. (not necessarily "happy" as such - but obviously better able to deal with life.)

Just look around you outside. If people were all like us (or me) - not much would be getting done, that's for sure.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-17-2020, 08:02 PM
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I think phrases like "others have it worse" or "everyone deals with this" are often times weaponized against the mentally ill. Some people think, "everyone struggles, therefore I have no obligation to take your suffering seriously." It's a copout.

Still, I believe we should take our own suffering seriously by trying to heal, but I think there are some people who don't understand mental illness that is pervasively more chronic in nature. There's a lot of people in a lot of pain on this site and out in the world, and I wish I knew how to help. I don't like to lump people together into that phrasing which implies everyone is in pain so no one's pain is relevant. I think it's better to try and talk to someone as an individual. Get to know them, validate them, take their pain seriously, and try to alleviate them in some capacity. It's hard though, especially when I know I'm a not so good listener still trying to leave his own chasm of mental illness. I can't much take the burden off of other people, when I can't even take it off of me. Sometimes a sense of solidarity, despite feelings of loneliness and estrangement helps me, if for only a little bit.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2020, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by introvert33 View Post
I'm not sure the point of this post, but do you find it helpful to realize there are some number of people with a similar struggle as you? How about do you agree and find it helpful to realize most people have had to deal with something in their life which may help them empathize with you even if theirs is a different struggle?

How many happy well-adjusted people are out there in the world? Are other people just better able to cope with their set-backs? What makes them better able to cope?

I'm ashamed to admit it but when I hear about the opioid epidemic and people who are hopelessly addicted to drugs I often times think "well at least I'm not that bad (yet) and things could be worse for me" and will feel slightly relieved and contented that this is the case and there are people out there who are worse off than me. Then almost immediately I feel guilty for feeling this way. It's a terrible thing to think, in part because I've actually had acquaintances that have died due to drug abuse. But I think its kind of a natural human reaction, to compare yourself to others, especially when you're experiencing adversity yourself. But knowing that I'm not alone in my struggles and there are people going through serious **** too does somehow make me feel better and less like an exception. And my struggles have for sure helped me to be more empathetic towards those that society has written off or may see as worthless or as "others".

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2020, 01:36 PM
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While it is true that the fact that there are people who have worse problems does not make your life any easier and is not necessarily helpful as advice, I've come to notice that people who complain about getting that advice usually have some kind of agenda. They usually want to be able to get away with things, or to excuse themselves for doing things that they don't tolerate other people doing to them. It's also used to reject or scorn people who mean well to you without the cognitive dissonance that that entails.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2020, 03:20 PM
 
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Maybe its because I am an introvert that I tend to be more empathetic towards people who are less outgoing, maybe its because I grew up in a clan where each person was very quiet that made me more likely to be sympathetic towards those who are closer to me. I've observed the ups and downs of humankind and I am prone to look upon things with a little bit of perspective. Or maybe its all of these things blended.

They say misery loves company, but that may not be true. I think people who are miserable tend to attract more misery towards themselves. Maybe it is like a loop, if you have enough trouble, the world loses its orange tint. Oh no I hope it doesn't become light blue and chilly, that would be horrible. I do not believe that people who are unhappy with their lives are fated to participate in endless pessimism.

If you look the right way, you can see that the whole- I mean there is always something to make you unhappy somewhere...at least temporarily.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2020, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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I like reading everyone's thoughts, thanks for responding.



I was looking at prevalence or incidence of mental illness to share, but of course there is a lot to choose from. I'll just go with the CDC for US.
  • More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
Basically my point is, that is sad. Coupled with the feeling that even if you don't have a mental illness, problems are re-lived by so many people without much progress made. The flip side is relate-ability, I just don't currently find that comforting.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2020, 06:15 PM
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I think it helps to know that a lot of people deal with social anxiety in mild ways. To know that they feel humiliated or lonely from time to time, but they move right along and it has no significant impact on their life. That means they can relate, and it also means there's hope to live a nice life without achieving superhuman perfection. It's good to know that it's okay to be flawed. It makes success look easier.

But knowing that some people are doing worse -- feeling suicidal over similar problems to mine, for example -- is discomforting. It makes total failure look easier.

And knowing that there are people out with terminal cancer being kidnapped and tortured or whatever... well, that just provides new worries. I think what people are trying to convey when they point out the greater suffering of others is that it's better to focus on what's going well in your life than to dwell on your problems. And that's true (particularly for problems you can't fix), but it can't be communicated politely or usefully while someone is feeling down.

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"Many people need desperately to receive this message: 'I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.'" ― Kurt Vonnegut
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2020, 10:00 PM
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I'm most comforted by someone's curiosity about my personal circumstance but any response in any form is helpful as long as they're trying. I can't expect everyone is going to respond to me in the way I want. All I can hope for is that they, at least, are willing to listen to and acknowledge me. If someone tells me that "it could be worse" or "everybody goes through that" etc I try to see beyond the words to the intent. If I feel there is a judgment at the heart of their statement I might be turned off but if it seems obvious to me they are doing their best to be supportive then I take it with a grain of salt.

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-19-2020, 01:23 AM
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Finding similar people can be nice except the part where they're often ashamed of themselves because of culture and that's not just SA I have a bunch of uncommon 'traits.' There are no role models, things either don't get talked about or they're talked about in a self disgusted way.

So I play an mmo now and then they do events in game to raise money for mental health charities in the UK. Part of that is asking people questions and then when you select the right one you get a bunch of tokens or whatever (it's changed during different events I think..) The statistics are pretty bleak (and also the npc animation is always really cheerful which makes it really dark and ironic lol.) stuff like 'what percentage of young people won't get decent help for their mental health issues?' And it's 75% lol. I can't remember all the things now and kind of wish I could because they were yikes bad.

But I would know I guess, I was one of that majority.

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