Not Guilty!

You often get posts on anxiety forums attacking people for being cowards. The idea being that you are simply not doing enough to cure your SA. “What have you done?” they ask as if you must have a list of tasks to complete as if you are unemployed and being questioned by the job centre to justify your benefit payment. Feel your fears and do it anyway etc. of course guilt has been used as a motivational tool and to encourage people for as long as humans have existed. However I think there may be more going on here. Many people try things and think they are going through hell to get over their anxiety. They then see others apparently doing absolutely nothing and still whining about how bad their life is and it gets them furious. Its similar to people in a really shit job that they hate and then slagging work-shy benefit scroungers. “I did all this to get better, why aren’t you?”

This guilt tripping may well have a positive effect for many people, encouraging them to try something they were to afraid of, succeed and get better. However for many people with long term SA it just adds more logs on the fire of despair. Often such people have had many years of feeling guilty and ashamed anyway, whether its because of long term unemployment or never having a relationship. In fact this is the reason why so many people become avoidant so they don’t have to explain themselves. In these circumstances heaping yet more guilt upon the desperate may be so traumatic that it could actually tip them over the edge and make them self harm, or worse.  I distinctively remember harming myself after reading such a post on the anxiety forum many years ago after a particularly difficult period at work and although it was not serious it quite easy could have been. I had another incident a couple of years ago after reading a post on the forum but that was also related to the death of my elderly mother although the forum definitely made me feel far worse due to quite ignorant replies.

You see guilt tripping only works for moderate behaviour problems and if you make someone who is desperate feel much worse due to imagining that everyone is in exactly the same position as you and they just need a good kick up the backside then you can do much more harm than good.  Again this is another reason that when you are feeling particularly bad it is not always a good idea to use internet forums where the people offering advice are not trained about mental illness and not always nice people anyway. It also shows how so many people think that problems due to SA are nothing more than lazy people using shyness as an excuse for not trying hard enough and they need some tough love. It’s probably because it’s the way they have been treated but shows that ignorance is everywhere.

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