That which is offensive vs. that which is necessary

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I have a problem with this meme. A real problem. The problem I have I described on my FB page thusly:

Saw this on a page I follow. The only problem with this is that you literally can feel depressed if you are suffering from depression, you can say that certain behaviors are your OCD coming out, if you have OCD, and you can literally tell someone that they are acting to trigger a panic attack if you suffer from panic attacks and they are doing something that stresses you out.

It’s great to post something to try to get people to stop misusing mental-health terms, but it stigmatizes those of us who actually suffer from these things by subtly suggesting that we SHOULDN’T talk about it. that we are somehow making fun of all those supposed “others” that are covered under these terms, when we say these things, instead of just speaking up as a person with mental health disorders.

Mental disorders need to be discussed more, not less. If a friend who is under emotional stress says they feel “psycho” it should be taken seriously, not treated as if it is dismissive of psychosis. The bad thing about mental disorders is that when depression, OCD, the low points of bi-polar, etc., take you over, you do feel COMPLETELY CRAZY. Suggesting that that feeling is melodrama is more harmful than good.

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I point this out because I have been seeing an alarming trend in our society. And no, it’s not being “politically correct”, which is something I am tired of hearing people complain about. It’s this new tendency to place people like me on the defensive by saying that everything that might be a trigger will be a trigger and thus should no longer be said.

Guess what. The only way to get triggers to stop triggering are to shoot them off, again and again. It’s like getting over a phobia. Eventually, you either emotionally cave to your trigger/phobia, or you force yourself to GET THE HELL OVER IT for your own mental well being.

But you don’t see this a lot today. People will instead turn around and act defensive… I’ve seen it before. For instance, trying to point out to people that actually “stomach amputation” might very well be overly offensive to those of us who have had it, and since those of us who have it don’t inherently deserve to be treated like shit for having weight loss surgery, that we have, as a matter of fact, just as much right to not be stigmatized for our bodies as the next fatso, I found myself at the receiving end of defensiveness from people who I wasn’t attacking.

It’s one thing to have to deal with the Lorens, who literally do come at you in such a way to put you on the defensive, because they are insulting you. It is another thing to try to make a point about the perils of assuming that the words you use aren’t abusive to someone, and being told that because you want to be treated better, you are abusing others and pushing them to “lose weight.”

I understand triggers. I understand weight loss surgery discussion triggers a lot of people. I also understand that talking about personal experiences is not the same as telling others they have to, one, lose weight, or two, do what I did.

This sort of defensiveness shuts down honest communication within a community which should be open-minded and hearted toward other members, even if their bodies and stories are different. When we start compartmentalizing what we are, the greater good suffers.

You can see this time and time again: Men can’t get together to discuss the ill effects male stereotypes have on them without certain types of feminists calling foul, suggesting that any such discussions inherently put down women. Afghan women can’t make statements about how they are the ones that will bring peace to Afghanistan without men blowing their tops, saying that male soldiers are the only ones who deserve credit for that. Oh, and one of my favorites… discussing rape jokes as having a negative effect on the issue of rape, through making light of rape, without someone throwing down the “free speech gauntlet”.

Want an example closer to home? Every single time one of us fat people assumes that the main motivation a thin person has when they do something that triggers negativity within us must be because they are TRYING to do so, we negate the fact that these thin people have feelings too. I personally can’t stand it when my thinner friends talk about how “fat” they are getting. It still bothers me. But I learned long ago that there is a HUGE difference between someone expressing their own lack of body self-satisfaction and someone who is commenting on their own bodies to make ME feel WORSE about mine.

Most of the time, a rose is a rose. When I said “stomach amputation” is an offensive thing to say, I meant STOMACH AMPUTATION IS AN OFFENSIVE THING TO SAY. I didn’t mean “you should all have the gastric bypass, lose weight, and stop bitching, you ugly fat jerks.”

Defensiveness turns open, honest discussion of real issues that we all face, as members of this society, and blows it up into hate speech. At the end of the day, this is counter productive, doesn’t help to end stigma, and actually increases it by leaving those who try to be honest and promote open discussion of issues feel they should censor themselves because you personally don’t like what they are saying.

If you are here reading this, it is my hope that you’re not the sort of person who does this, that you are, in fact, the sort of person that hears others out, with an open mind.

You don’t have to end up agreeing. I know I often don’t. I won’t and cannot change my attitudes toward fundamentalist and creationist Christians. They indoctrinate innocent kids into a either a soul-crushing or stupefying dogma simply to control these kids the rest of their lives. The actions of fundamentalists towards women and members of the LGBT community are disgusting, in my opinion. The actions of creationists in pushing ridiculous notions at the cost of respect in real science and truth is disgusting. Hell, I even find myself being pissed off by holier-than-thou scientists, who seem to think that any trace of spirituality in a person must inherently mean they are a stupid, superstitious twat who take pride in being ignorant, backwards, and bigoted.

No matter how much people try to convince me otherwise, I am not going to just be okay with what these three groups above do and say. However, coming to the discussion of Christianity with an open mind has forced me to not paint every Christian with the same brush. I have to admit and will continue to admit that Christianity is a good religion, when it is practiced by good people of faith, who truly believe in Jesus’ message of loving one’s fellow man.

The good bits are mostly found in the New Testament. The Old Testament just makes me sad.

Were I to enter into discussions on Christianity with aggressive defensiveness, not only would I be hurting friends and family that I have who are true believers, I would be depriving myself of a chance to show kindness and respect to my fellow man.

At the end of the day, defensiveness and triggers must be on the top of our list of problems to be overcome. To leave them be for too long is to mark ourselves with scars that suggest that we have not nor will ever truly FORGIVE OURSELVES, and because we cannot forgive ourselves, we cannot forgive those who accidentally remind us of how crappy we actually are.

Except we’re not crappy, every single other person on the face of the Earth isn’t personally invested in making us feel crappy, and life is too short and can end too easily in despair when defensiveness and negativity reign over happiness and true contentment.

So, if a person says to you that they feel depressed, and you have depression, maybe you should try talking to them about what that really means, instead of just assuming that they are bagging on you because of the fact that they must see you as “crazy.”

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