While attending one of my classes recently as the professor was teaching her lecture, a student asked a question. The question was about the different types of intravenous ports and other methods that are utilized for long-term treatments such as dialysis. This question led the professor to ask one of the other students in the class about his personal experience with the treatment being discussed, because he struggles with certain things and has first-hand experience with it. While this student is sharing his experience, another student who sits in front of me whispers in a not-so-soft tone- “What’s wrong with him???”
I feel like this statement wouldn’t have bothered other people as much as it bothered me. Nevertheless, it did bother me and I’m going to explain why. If we live in a society where something as seemingly random as having a medical condition can stir up a response such as “what’s wrong with you” then we are moving towards the world becoming worse rather than better. My classmate had no choice in having to have the health condition that he has to get long-term treatment for, he just happened to have it and now he has to strive to get better. Stating something like that to someone because of a medical condition is THE EXACT SAME THING as asking someone who has cancer “what’s wrong with them”-which according to societal standards, is something no one should ever do. So why to dare ask someone who has another medical condition the same question?
After thinking about that, I applied this idea to broader aspects of life. As someone in recovery from mental health challenges and who sees so much stigma surrounding us on a constant basis, why couldn’t we apply the “cancer patient” rule to EVERYONE with ANY condition? If we can CHOOSE to be nice and accepting to those who have cancer, why can’t we make the same CHOICE to accept, help, and validate those who have mental health conditions? I specifically emphasize on the word CHOICE because that’s really what it comes down to- us CHOOSING to judge someone based on the root of their struggles or not.
Just imagine a world in which acceptance was universal, no condition limited anyone from wanting to accomplish whatever they desired to be in life, and everyone, everywhere, just felt safe enough to be who they truly desired to be. Asking someone what’s wrong with them isn’t the right question to ask. Despite any conditions a person may have or any struggles they have going on, the question that we should be asking is “who do you want to be?”
Let’s make this week a great one for everyone.
Here’s to achieving everything you set out to do this week!