I think that the stigma surrounding mental illness is lessening with more public figures sharing their emotional struggles and experiences with depression, but there’s still that idea of ‘what do they have to be unhappy about?’ When we hear that someone died by suicide, people think, ‘but they had a good job… they were financially stable and didn’t have to worry about money… people they loved and who loved them…’, but depression, anxiety, and sadness don’t discriminate. When someone is depressed, it doesn’t matter if everything appears to be going right in their life – the feelings of hopelessness can still take over. We all have our own struggles that we have to deal with in life, and while it’s important to be grateful for what we have and recognize the blessings we have been given, discounting someone else’s sadness (or your own) because you don’t understand it or think that someone has it worse isn’t going to help.
There are people who can’t understand Roberto Luongo’s assessment of his 12-year, $64 million contract, when he admitted that it “sucked” (because it was basically preventing a trade away from the team that had tossed him aside. It wasn’t the money he was talking about, but the emotional lows and not being given a fair chance to do his job.) Although he acknowledged that there are a lot worse things in the world, it doesn’t mean that the situation was easy for him. It’s important to keep things in perspective (which I think Roberto did well), but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a right to feel disappointed, frustrated, or upset
Just because someone else’s problems may seem worse, it doesn’t mean that what you’re going through is any less important. Hurt is hurt, what you feel is real, and I don’t think emotional pain is something that can be judged from the outside.
Game Plan: Don’t get down on yourself (or others) for being sad, even if you know that others are in more difficult circumstances. Although it can help to gain some perspective and practice gratitude for what you do have, it won’t help to discount your own emotions, because they are real and they matter.