“It gets better”, is a well known phrase, particularly around youth depression and suicide prevention. For many people it does get better, for some of us, it doesn’t. That’s why the title of this blog post is what it is. The asterisk is simple. It means “Terms and Conditions Apply”. In other words, what looks good on the surface, has greater repercussions than you might think.
Now I’m not here to attack anyone, or any organisation that uses the phrase “It Gets Better”. Nor am I saying woe is me, because it doesn’t work on me. All I’m saying is that using the phrase doesn’t actually make things better.
I’ve thought about this post for a long time now, what to write, if I should write it, if I should write anything. Right now I’m severely depressed, and for me, that’s some of the clearest time for me to think. When people see me in my “happy/normal” cycle, I feel the most delusional.
Come with me on a journey, while I think outside of the box a little here, to try and explain why things don’t get better. To do so, think of yourself as a lemon.
As a lemon, you’re asked to give a bit of juice, because it will make someone’s fish and chips a bit tastier. You get told that by giving up a little bit, in the long run you win. But people keep squeezing you, for more and more juice, all the time saying it will get better. For them it does, they have nice tasty fish and chips. But for you, you’re just being squeezed more and more. Finally whey of have nothing left to give, you’re told “See how happy you have made people? See it does get better.” But the very people saying that are ignoring the fact you are nothing by a total mess, from which you will never recover.
At the moment, I feel like this. It’s not just a moment that has lasted for a day or two, it’s a moment that has lasted for thirty years. Sure there are times when it appears things are getting better, but that is really just the calm before the storm. It doesn’t get better. Other people may look at the surface, see the things they like, and tell me how great things are, but it’s not. Every day is a struggle, because from the moment I wake up each day, all I am thinking is “Oh great, I woke up. That means another day of having move squeezed out of me.”
I was raised on the belief that if you work hard, you’ll get rewarded. It’s horse shit. The harder I work, the reward I get is to have to work harder, to reach the expectations of others. When I rebel because I simply have no more to give, I’m punished for not trying hard enough. Sound defeatist? Yeah, it may sound that way, but it’s not. It’s actually a little known thing called “reality”.
Most people are blinded to reality. They have their support structures around them. They have their like minded people around them, and so they are blinded to the fact that while something works for them, it doesn’t work for everyone. Why does it work for them? Well that’s simple. It’s because there are people like me who make things happen, yet get no reward for the effort. Instead our reward is the expectation (implied or not) that things just have to get done.
Now I’m not expecting to be given everything in life, and have my cake too. All I ask is that I not go backwards. For the amount of effort I put in, I get that much reward at the end of it. It would be a much nicer thing than existence being futile. To break even. To know that what I have achieved is mine. If that was to happen, then it would get better.
So next time you tell someone “It Gets Better”, remember one thing. It may get better for you, because you have told them that, but the reality is very different indeed for the person you say it to.