One of the most frustrating things of having any sort of mental infirmity is trying to describe what it’s like to someone who doesn’t have a similarly wrong thing inside their own head. It’s this sort of vexing problem that usually leaves me frustrated for days, which is annoying when you consider that one of my more irritating problems is an attention disorder….you’d think I’d be able to forget about it easier.
I’m not angry with or at the person I’m trying to describe it to, typically speaking. I am well aware how hard it is to describe the situation to someone else. More then anything, I’m completely frustrated with the ability to properly convey the concept.
If you’re missing an arm, that’s a problem people can understand and grasp easily enough (no pun intended there, honestly). They have the capacity to see the lack of an arm, and that is that. Even if it’s just a problem with the arm, such as pain or muscle weakness, it’s still easier to understand. Even though they can’t see your arm pain, they’ve felt pain or weakness before, and the concept translates easily.
Mental problems don’t translate as well. Not only is there rarely any physical sign of it, but the problem is quite often just an aggravated form of something a more balanced person can feel every day. So it becomes easier to dismiss the existence of anything….because, hey! I have that same issue and it doesn’t effect me like that. So you get a situation where people don’t believe in chronic depression or panic attacks…because they’ve been sad or scared before and they didn’t have the same problems.
I really don’t blame anyone for this, and I try not to get upset about it either. Really, human empathy just has a hard time relating to something it can’t see or touch. I mean, I can relate to attention span disorders because I have one. Writing this entry has been torturous. Trying to form sentences has been mind-numbingly difficult for no real reason. Spelling errors (which I make almost constantly) almost confuse me as I have to try and concentrate on the intended context of the word, the entire content of the sentence, and how to put that together properly at the same time….and it feels like if I loose track of one of them for a second, I’ll loose the entire thought.
The only reason I know what that feels like is because I’ve felt it myself, and without that experience? My empathy would be all the poorer for it. Without knowing the feeling myself, I’d probably be of the same opinion about that and every other problem I’ve never felt.
Sometimes, it can be agonizing. You end up feeling completely mentally handicapped right around the forth time you’ve tried to read one paragraph and failed. However, you keep going. You keep working at it, trying to recognize that you have a problem while not using the problem as a crutch or as an identity. It’s a tricky, slippery slope to walk that thin line between knowing you have a problem and using the problem. You keep going.
So, all is well I guess. I just hate trying to have to describe what it’s like. I’ve been trying to explain it to my mother for about 6 years now…and I still get this attitude of barely with-held skepticism.
Some days, I feel like I’m trying to describe a color to a person born without eyes. It’s not something that keeps me up at night…though it does drive me bonkers from time to time.