If I Had To Suffer, You Have To Suffer
I’ve been thinking a lot about a feeling that some people (myself included) have in some situations where they have a protracted struggle with something, and upon overcoming it, instead of wanting to help other people not have the profoundly shitty experience they just had, they do nothing to help, feeling that the suffering they endured was “character building” or something similar. When I see it in someone else, it is easy to criticize, and I frequently find myself feeling or even saying that older generations who do this kind of thing to their youngers have a lack of empathy and ought to be judged for it, but then there are plenty of times I feel exactly the same. When it comes to mental health and I see someone young struggling with anxiety and/or depression that doesn’t seem life-threatening, I often think something along the lines of “they’re young, little do they know it’s only going to get worse, they’re going to have to learn to take responsibility for their own mental health, it’s important for them to face this largely on their own”, even though I had an experience that I knew was fundamentally fucking awful and needed all the support I could get.
Is it a way for me to feel better about making it through, and there an element of narcissism in it? Is it one of the few ways I have to actually legitimize my own experience, to see it replicated in others and to watch them suffer too? Is everyone that has these kinds of thoughts just a bit of a dick?
I think all three are probably true, but I can’t say I love it. In the future I want to be more empathetic and do whatever I can to try to save others any part of the mental health struggles I’ve had over the years.