On motivational quotes and mental illnesses

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While there is nothing inherently wrong with attempting to be positive, I do have a big problem with the way a lot of “motivational” images seem to imply that all you need to do is think positive thoughts and your life will be hunky-dory. Maybe it could help someone who is simply having a bad day to focus on being grateful for things or think happy thoughts, but it becomes a problem when you figure in mental illness. It seems to be blaming people for things like depression or anxiety. My mom used to be this way about my anxiety, she acted like my panic attacks were some kind of attention-seeking behavior and I should just chill and snap out of it. You can’t just “snap out of” mental illnesses though, and having a crappy day isn’t the same as being clinically depressed. So when I see things telling me to “focus on the positive” and that I am only as happy as I allow myself to be, sometimes I get irritated.
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The same goes for the ones saying pets and nature are better than any therapist. I don’t dispute that spending time with animals or outdoors can be great and even therapeutic; but I do dispute the implication that these things are a replacement for therapy or better than therapy. No reason you can’t have both, but some people are helped by therapy, and talking to your dog is not quite the same as talking to a licensed professional in the mental health field. It minimizes the struggles of the mentally ill and says they’d be ok if they just took their dogs for more walks in the woods. While I can understand the idea that many people are stressed out from their jobs and perhaps being stuck indoors a lot, not all problems are solved by a little sunshine and fresh air.

On a semi-related note, I also dislike seeing the ones saying all you need is love and companionship, or that those things are the only things that matter in life. I sure hope those aren’t the only things that matter in life, or nothing much matters in my life, because I seem to be unable to form close relationships with people as a result of my mental illnesses. I’m not denying that many people have reason to enjoy these memes saying love is what matters in life; I’m just saying that these ideas make me feel very alienated.

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Additionally, as much as adore RuPaul, I also feel alienated when she closes her shows saying “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” Maybe the answer really is, “you’re not,” but it isn’t very motivational for those of us who don’t have relationships and have trouble loving ourselves. I’m not saying people should be expected to never say or post something like this or the other love-related ones, I am just stating how I feel when I look at them.

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