I've begun talking to a guy that doesn't believe in mental illness and therapy. I opened up with him about an anxiety disorder that I have and his response was "I don't get what you have to be so anxious about."
He also said that therapy is stupid and doesn't work.
While this is not only offensive to me, it is also offensive to others that suffer as well. Many people who suffer from mental illness go to therapy to try and better themselves and manage their illness.
His opinions startled me. I know that there are people that question mental illness. Some people believe anxiety is just being worried and depression is just being caught in a cycle of self-pity.
I tried my best to explain to him that "having something to be anxious about" is not what my, and many other, anxiety disorders are.
Anxiety disorders, much like many other mental disorders and illnesses, are a result of a chemical imbalance. (Note that there are many other reasons mental disorders and illnesses can be developed.) There isn't always a cause or provocation.
An anxiety disorder is not comparable to being nervous before a test or job interview. Anxiety disorders are crippling and affect all aspects of those who suffer livelihoods.
Personally, my anxiety disorder affects my sleep. I experience insomnia and often don't get more than eight hours of sleep per week. This guy questioned why I do this to myself.
I told him that it is not that I choose to not sleep. It is not that I lie in bed watching Netflix and purposefully keep myself awake. This is not the case. More often than not, I lay awake in the dark waiting for my mind to shut off.
We have had several conversations that make me wonder if he will ever try to understand what anxiety is, or if he is someone I will have to let go of.
Battling any mental illness is hard enough and having someone question that validity of whatever you may be going through is discouraging.
I hope that his ignorance is a result of a lack of exposure to those with mental disorders and illnesses.
I believe that learning how to interact with someone that has life conditions that are different than the one you may have been exposed to is a learning process. When it comes to learning how to interact with someone that has a mental illness or disorder, I believe that this is also a learning process.
Maybe I am the one that is not being ignorant hoping that he will begin to view my disorder as real-life rather than myself provoking these feelings and worries upon myself.