This may be more of a rant than anything else but I believe it needs to be said. Throughout the past few years I have encountered various people both online and in real life who have been dealing with mental illnesses. A thing I have noticed by following these people is how much of a competition there seems to be between people to be ‘the most sick’ out of everyone. This may sound very weird and perhaps confusing to you; why would someone feel the need to be sicker than someone else? I have been debating the answer to this question a lot as well.
I think this ‘competition’ is quite evident especially on sites like Instagram or Tumblr where people tally their hospital admissions or tell everyone their lowest BMI, for example. The only possible reason for this, in my opinion, is to prove to others that they are sick. Others even write a long list of all their diagnosis in their biography. Again this doesn’t make sense to me unless they were trying to prove a point. One that I’ve learned to be the ‘I have more issues than you’ point.
Even in real life I have known people who constantly talk about their problems making yours seem like nothing in comparison. For example, when you may talk to someone about self harm and say that you’ve only ever scratched yourself many people would reply by saying something like ‘You are so lucky, I’ve cut myself 100+ times and have been in hospital 10 times’. The words ‘you’re so lucky’ are probably what triggers this first person to feel less sick and for some reason feel the need to also become sicker to match the other’s stage.
But still the question remains, why this need to prove to other that you are very sick? Is it for attention? Or is it so that you have proof that you have that illness? For instance some people with anorexia may feel like they are not properly ill unless they’ve been to hospital or had an NG tube passed. Perhaps only then can people feel comfortable saying ‘I have anorexia’ since they experienced the worst of it.
This competition is very dangerous. I have seen it work in such a negative way especially on social media. It’s dangerous because the only thing it causes is people wanting to ill themselves more, to feel accomplished by beating someone else’s BMI or by cutting deeper than that person. What people don’t understand is that just because someone’s been in hospital more than someone else, it doesn’t mean this person is hurting more, it just means that the two individuals have coped differently.
It scares me just how much this competition is present on social media. It’s like an endless cycle of people ‘accomplishing’ something that means they are sicker and in turn triggering someone else to want the same thing or more.
It is still very unclear to me why there even is such a competition. But it’s there and it’s dangerous. Thankfully, sites like Instagram now have the option to report a certain picture or account under the catergory of showing self harm. This is good because so many vulnerable people may come across someone’s cuts and feel triggered to get their wrist to look the same.
I so wish more was done to ensure this competitiveness disappeared, it’s hurting way too many people making them feel ‘fake’ if they do not reach a particular stage in their illness. The most alarming thing is that many do no even realise this it’s happening, it’s almost like the competition is a subconscious thing and people fall into the trap completely unaware. So, if you have just read this and have realised that you could be part of the cycle please, please, please help break it. Posting your bad moments only triggers others and does absolutely no good. Showing your good ones instead really helps set others on a more positive route, striving for the healthier option.