Al Levin provides a really important reminder about comparing our trauma or mental health issues with everyone else. There’s always someone who has to worse. But so what? What does their story have to do with ours?
“Why do so many people diminish their own pain and suffering by thinking and/or declaring that “others have it worse”? Sure, others may have it worse. In fact, you could think of the worst case scenario and somebody’s more than likely got it even worse than that person. That doesn’t mean you don’t have your own challenges with which to address. This isn’t about comparing who has it worse. It’s about maintaining one’s own mental health.”
I think there maybe a couple of reasons why we fall into this. Al mentions one of the big ones, this becomes a way to avoid really facing our own issues. Since our issues are “not as bad” as someone else we can point to, this becomes our excuse to simply accept them instead of trying to work on ourselves and do the hard work of healing. Similarly, I also think this is an example where so many of us don’t see ourselves as worthy of getting better. Our issues aren’t as bad, so we don’t really deserve to get treatment, or get support, or even admit that we need it. The truth, though, is that everyone is worth being supported and getting help when necessary. There is no one in this world who has never needed any support, no matter what kinds of trauma and struggles they are having, or how bad someone else might have it.
It’s not a contest where the person who needs to ask for the least help wins or the person who can share the “worst” trauma story wins. It’s life. It’s messy, and we’re all better off not doing it on our own.