Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Is compassion a mental illness?

I was at the doctor's office the other day getting checked out for my unrelenting phone-sex-voice-inducing laryngitis. I usually don't go to the doctor for physical things so it wasn't surprising for my doc to move on to my mental health after she'd checked out my throat.

"How is your mood going?" she asked.

"It's pretty good, I've been having some really good days!" I replied excitedly. "But when I do have the awesome days, the effort I put in to seeming normal is exhausting and I'll often sleep all day after to recover, but on the whole, I'm soooo far from where I was!"

"Well that's moving in the right direction. What about your anxiety?" she added.

"It's not great. But my anxiety is mostly about actual things and it doesn't stop me doing things."


"Well, the federal election, Brexit, Trump, violence toward the LGBT community. The world seems to be in such a state of upheaval and it worries me what is going to happen next."

"That shows me your state of mind is still out of whack. You live in Australia but are worried about shootings in America and xenophobia in England, it doesn't make sense.

I left feeling really strange. I quite like this doctor, she's been very helpful and gone above and beyond trying to help me through my recent breakdown. She's smart, caring, non judgemental, and genuinely kind. But I respectfully disagree with her on this one.

I don't think feeling upset over the state of the world is a sign of mental illness. It isn't stopping me going about my day at all, it doesn't negatively influence how I act, but it is on my mind.

We are global citizens. What happens overseas impacts Australians. It impacts my life and the lives of my children.

The flux of racial hatred from some pea brains in the UK who hadn't thought to read what Brexit actually was and assumed it was about shutting down borders and tossing out immigrants, gave power to others who share the same small-minded thoughts on immigration and refugees. Just look at #postrefracism on twitter for truly horrifying examples. And the amount of Australians who said we should be next was staggering.

The overseas cheers and congratulations from the homophobes after the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub spurred an outpouring of love worldwide, but not enough to drown out the cascade of hate. Overhearing people at my local shops condoning the attacks because of the sexual orientation of the deceased filled me with disgust.

It hurts my heart to see so much hatred. So much fear. And I have genuine concern for the world my children are going to inherit. I don't think that makes me mentally ill. It influences my vote, who I am friends with, who I choose to spend time with, what charities I support, and how I raise my kids, but it doesn't make me huddle in a ball afraid to leave the house. However I am a person with mental illness so perhaps I'm not the one to make the call on what is or isn't bat shit crazy.

When did caring what happens to other people, being compassionate, wanting for a better world, become mental illness? 

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