It’s February. I can hardly make myself believe that we are already one full month into 2017. Since before the beginning of this year I have tried to make a conscious effort to be very positive in what I allow myself to focus on – whether it be thoughts, activities, even the things I read. I am falling off of that wagon this morning, only 32 days into the year, because there is this topic boiling inside of me that I wish to plead with you to consider and to change about yourself if you’re one of the people this shoe fits. The topic of the day today is “toxic people and toxic relationships.”
I am inclined to share my thoughts about this because it’s a topic that has really begun to irritate me. It’s not just the toxicity topic – it spans a broader spectrum, really. I see it frequently “discussed” on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube (and no doubt on Facebook and Twitter, which I have happily been distanced from for some time now). People throw around this terminology and are turning it into this new rage with new meaning and my problem with that is this: mental illness, nor emotional/physical abuse, are fads or hot topics or momentarily interesting adjectives. They are serious, and they are long term, and they are important, and people who are truly dealing with them suffer and struggle beyond what those who do not deal with them in a real sense could ever imagine or understand.
Here are my thoughts, in short:
Just because a person disagrees with you doesn’t make them a narcissist. Just because a person shares a different perspective on life or lives in a different world than you do doesn’t make them “bad for you” or “mentally ill” or wrong. Just because you have an argument, or a person makes a mistake, or a person does or says or feels things that do not make sense to you or things that make you uncomfortable does not mean that they are a toxic person. Just because a person doesn’t understand YOU doesn’t make them daft or stubborn. What all of those things MIGHT mean are that perhaps you are using blame or judgement or being unkind to others in order to validate yourself.
I wish that people would stop throwing around terms related to mental illness and psychological problems like they are just every day adjectives, and blowing every day situations, perfectly normal behaviors, personality types, and differences out of proportion. Terms and phrases like:
Delusions of grandeur
And, even using the actual names of mental illnesses as adjectives or modifiers or verbs:
Really? Because chances are, you have NO IDEA what it’s like to deal with ANY of those issues in a real way. The one that really aggravates me is the current trend of talking about people and relationships that are just not great or maybe a little bit unhealthy but far from abusive or utterly horrible as “toxic,” and to accuse the other person of being “unstable,” or “bipolar,” or “narcissistic.” Until you have actually been involved with a person who carries within them the ACTUAL traits of any of those illnesses or states of being, you have no clue how detrimental, how painful, and how truly disabling those types of relationships/people can be.
It’s not cute – not even a little bit – to have a painful or bad breakup that is really pretty average or normal (breakups hurt, OK?) and to then lash out with some descriptors like the ones I’ve mentioned above in order to validate yourself or to make yourself feel better. It is one thing to refer to someone as selfish, or as wrong for you. It’s something completely different to use descriptors like the ones above when referring to them or to your opinion of them.
Society in general needs to get over itself. It needs to change it’s perception back to the reality that NONE OF US are the same, none of us have the same experiences as a whole, or beliefs or ideas about the world or about life or about anything – even science disagrees with itself some of the time. And what does it do? It accepts that and it works to make things “right,” because it has to. That’s why the majority of ideas in the world of science are still called THEORIES, and theories are acceptable until proven to be fact or proven to be bullshit.
Speaking of bullshit, I’m calling bullshit on all the hype about toxic relationships, and toxic people, and narcissists that seem to be out to get a few of you…because you know what? You’re lying to yourself and you’re making mountains out of molehills, and most likely you are simply trying to avoid personal responsibility and owning what YOU HAVE ALLOWED in your life that you are now sick of. You can’t blame other people for what you have allowed to continue, or for not understanding you when you do not express yourself well, or for not treating you in a way that you deem as “fair” when everyone is entitled to believe and express themselves as THEY ARE, just as much as you are.
I’m not on a rant today, I promise! I just had one too many blips of the term “this person is so toxic” appear on my screen this morning, and I wanted to address the utter unreality of truth to this, in a general sense, and the overwhelming lack of compassion involved in using terms like that to describe the most mediocre of issues that people see in each other. I’m not even going to pretend that I haven’t at some point been guilty of this myself. I’m sure that I have. But, perhaps if we could spend as much time diagnosing ourselves the way we do others, and then HELPING OURSELVES to become better in the areas where we see a need for improvement, and work together to gain an understanding of these terms I’ve described, instead of running off at the mouth and spouting DSM terminology as though we understand it and are qualified to do so, the world would be a much kinder and better place. As a person who does feel qualified to intelligently discuss mental health terminology and issues (a trained and well schooled psychologist, as well as a diagnosed sufferer of CPTSD, anxiety and panic disorder, and the classification of depression that falls under the umbrella of those issues), I can’t help but feel some sort of obligation to say, “PLEASE STOP!”
Thank you for reading, and for attempting to understand where I am coming from, friends. I only wish to protect the people I love – namely, ANYONE who suffers from any sort of mental illness and/or is dealing with/has dealt with abusive people/relationships, including myself – who are hurt by the offhand and very casual usage of these terms and phrases that are so readily pulled out and used these days, and to say that if you’d like to have an actual discussion about the reality of these issues, I’m game to share in that conversation with you. The world can be a better place. Can we work together to make that better place a reality? Please?
I do hope you’ll have a beautiful day, and a very blessed one…
Much love, friends.