There is an explanation for everything. There is an explanation for every kind of behaviour exhibited by every person on this Earth.
There is an explanation for the guy who murdered someone. No person in their right mind would commit a horrendous act like this. No mentally stable, mentally well person would commit an act like this. Only a mentally unstable, mentally unwell person would.
There is an explanation for the girl who missed called and texted her boyfriend 10000001 times in one night. No girl in her right frame of mind would do this. No girl who is 100% mentally stable at that moment in time would do this. A mentally stable, mentally healthy person wouldn’t do this. A mentally stable person wouldn’t shout abuse at someone for no reason. The term “mentally unstable” has negative connotations. I have been called mentally unstable in the past by someone who was once very close to me. But it was a way of putting me down. He was right, I wasn’t mentally stable. The chemical make up of my brain was not stabilised, not in equilibrium. I wasn’t mentally stable. This is not a bad thing, people. I mean, it’s bad in that it sucks for the person because it means they’ve got a long journey ahead of them back to good mental health, but it’s not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. And it is definitely not something that should ever be used to put someone down. Because that is what propagates the negative stigma that surrounds mental illness. All it means is that your brain chemistry is (for whatever reason), out of whack.
“She’s a bit loopy in the head” – I can just picture a middle-aged po faced woman saying that in a hushed voice. You know who she is referring to though, right? The crazies. Only, they’re not actually crazy. They’re mentally unstable, But that doesn’t mean anything bad. That just means they have a chemical imbalance in their brain. Could be for any number of reasons. Could have always been that way. Could be hormonal. Could be circumstantial. Could be due to surviving a trauma, say, for example their child dying. That could happen to anyone. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate and it could affect anyone. It’s an injury or illness that needs to be treated. Just like a broken arm. Once you treat it, it comes right. So before you go judging someone with a mental illness, ask yourself this: if you watched your child be brutally murdered, or not even brutally murdered, if your child just died for whatever reason, would you come through without suffering from depression? Without suffering from anxiety from reliving it in your head 1000 times a day? Re-living it and wishing you had done something differently? Without having nightmares or similar things symptomatic of PTSD? Mental illness could affect anyone. You don’t know what is around the corner. So remember this, before you judge someone with a mental illness. You don’t know their back story.
Remember this, before you go putting your judgy hat on, people.
Last year I read this article in the paper. A woman was stranded on Brown’s Island, an uninhabited island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. She lit a fire to attract help after being stranded for days. The fire got hella out of control and scorched 13.2ha of land. Then earlier this year, while coming back on the boat from Rangitoto Island, someone pointed out the burnt earth on Brown’s Island to me. When I questioned them as to how this had happened, I was re-told the story and I remembered reading this article the previous year. I was told that woman had “mental health issues” in a hushed voice with knowing eyes. As if this were a bad thing. But if this woman had lit the blaze because she had broken her leg and needed help, I doubt we would have spoken about it in hushed voices with “knowing” eyes.
People aren’t empathetic enough these days. The girl who missed called her boyfriend 100000001 times? No mentally stable person with good mental health would do this. Perhaps she was suffering from anxiety? Perhaps she was in a horrible frame of mind. Perhaps this is what caused herself to get so worked up, that she missed called the poor bastard that many times.
No one who has not been through anxiety would think like this. Unless you have lived with a mental illness and come out the other side, it would not even occur to you to try to empathise with the girl. Or question what it was that made her do this.
The truth is, we judge people by their behaviour. Everyone is guilty of it. (And if you’re a mega arsehole, you may also judge someone on their looks or their car or their home. But let’s not get into that in this post!) But behaviour speaks. So next time you notice a change in someone’s behaviour, or a type of behaviour that seems a little off, instead of judging them, why don’t you ask yourself what that behaviour is saying? What does it tell you? Maybe instead of being a crazy bitch, she’s just highly anxious. Instead of judging her, you could try asking her if she is ok. A very powerful question. “Are. You. Okay?”
Try practicing a little empathy. I was that girl once. (Ok, it was more like 10 times not 10000001 times…maybe it was more than 10 times actually…I was frantic and I was hyperventilating..it’s a little hazy…but it was a shitload of times anyway). And I wish someone had shown me empathy or asked me if I was okay. Not treated me as if I was a crazy psycho. Because I wasn’t a crazy psycho. But I did have anxiety. And when I was doing that, I was suffering an anxiety attack. I needed help, not to be judged.
Next time you’re about to pass judgement on someone – look at their behaviour. What does it tell you? Is it an unintentional cry for help?
Next time you’re about to pass judgement on someone – look at your own behaviour. What does it tell you about yourself? And remember this: Happy people continuously evaluate and improve themselves. Unhappy people evaluate and judge others. A mentally stable, mentally balanced person does not pass judgement on others. A mentally happy and stable person does not feel jealousy towards someone, only pleasure or happiness for that person. A mentally stable and happy person does not say mean things to another person. Because a mentally stable and happy person knows that doing so could pose a risk to the other person’s happiness and mental stability. If you have been through a mental illness and come out the other side, there is no way you would say or do something that would risk destabilising someone else’s mental health or stability…because you know damn well how hard it is to come back from something like that.
On the other hand, someone who is not mentally stable and who does not have good mental health, does not consider the impact of a hurtful or careless statement on the person who they are saying it to, or that person’s mental health. Unhappy people judge and evaluate others. So before you respond to them with “you’re an arsehole”, stop and think about them too. Chances are, they are not a happy person if they are saying those kinds of things to you. Chances are, if they are judging you, or being an arsehole to you, they ain’t happy.
People aren’t empathetic enough.
There is an explanation for every behaviour.
Empathy. They ability to understand and share the feeling of another.
Empathy. A word that has been part of our vocabulary since the early 20th Century.
Empathy. Something that most of us don’t practice nearly enough.
Empathy. Try it on for size. Go on – I dare you. It might just change the way you perceive others.
The ugliest thing you will ever see is a human being without compassion.