Hey, you. You with the normalcy. You just crawled out of your depression, and you have opinions about it. Or maybe you're not depressed or you don't have anxiety right now. You scroll through Facebook and shake your head sternly at those “What it feels like to have anxiety” posts because you're now too powerful, strong, or normal to acknowledge such weakness. And not only that, but why should you have to put put up with people being assholes in the name of mental health? Like, your friend canceled on your holiday party, claiming depression, and that really messed up your plans for the potluck.
I have news for you, you proudly mentally healthy person. If you would understand a friend missing your party for dialysis, you can understand a friend missing a party because of depression. Missing your party or bailing on your plans isn't an attack on you and your staunch, proud lack of neuroses; it's a person defending the softest, most vulnerable parts of themselves from a harsh, sharp-sided world of assholes like you who weren't up all night having panic attacks. It's not self-indulgent; it's self-protection, and after reading your screed, I can see why they might be curling away from you and your judgment.
I've met my share of assholes, and believe me, they were never caught in the throes of depression and anxiety. No, they were narcissists who thought the world should by rights conform to their narrow worldview. You think Trump is anxious? No, he's an asshole. You think that boss who's yelling at you is depressed? No, he's an asshole. The problem person in your workplace or friend circle isn't a problem because they have mental health issues. No, that person is in the corner, eating alone, assuming everyone hates them and not daring to speak up about their suffering for fear of being further hurt or ridiculed. You know-- like you were just a few months ago.
When I'm depressed or anxious, I don't walk around telling everyone I meet how awful I feel. When friends say, “How are you?”, I don't actually tell them the truth; I say, “Fine. How are you?” because that is how the social contract works. When I'm depressed, I sit in bed for a week without bathing, eating only granola, trying to remember how to smile. So if that gets in the way of whatever it is you need to do— me, sitting in my own fucking bed, stinking—then I doubt I'm the problem in this relationship.
When I see these self-righteous posts about how one brave soul pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to overcome their crippling mental health issues without meds or therapy, I see someone insecure and desperately trying to support their journey by trashing the people still trapped in the pit they've just crawled out from, and that's not fucking helpful. You can't see the light on the other side until you're on the other side, and assuming that just shouting into the hole, telling people that they suck will help them crawl out... it doesn't help. Throw them a rope, by which I mean make an effort to provide concrete help. Send an email that says, “Hey, I think you're having a bad time, and I respect that; let me know if I can help.” Offer to take them to coffee or dinner. Leave a nice chocolate bar by their computer. Share a link on Facebook about how to breathe mindfully or which supplements and minerals might help. If your friends had abandoned you while you were still in the hole, you might not have had the strength to climb out at all. Despite what you seem to think, you didn't do it alone.
So for the love of all that's holy, don't shout into the hole you've crawled out of. Because that, my friend, makes you more of an asshole than anyone still trapped in the dark.
(In response to this article: http://chronicpainsolutions.org/your-anxiety-isnt-an-excuse-to-be-an-asshole/ because fuck her, that's why.)