“Everyone’s Been There”: A Dangerous Myth

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

Let me preface this post by acknowledging a universal truth of life – everyone has gone through tough shit or will at some point in the future. Everyone has a story.

But when it comes to mental illness, not everyone’s “been there”. People – usually sweet, kind, well-meaning people who are just trying their best – love to say this as a response to someone’s experience with mental illness (often one that is directly correlated with an emotion that everyone really does experience at some point in time, such as depression or anxiety). I believe that when people say this, it is with the best intentions. They want to make the person they’re talking to feel less alone, and they want to believe that they understand.

They don’t realize that statements like this severely invalidate the experiences of a person with a mental illness. It’s not born out of malice; it’s born out of ignorance and the limitations that come with being human.

Whenever I use the word ‘ignorant’ people tend to get all up in arms, but the thing is, when I say that I am not calling out anyone in particular. We are all ignorant because we can only fully understand things which we have experienced. We can try to better ourselves by learning more about the world and other people’s experiences, but we can only do so much, and many people do not go out of their way to do this.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t understand what it’s like to be a “normal” person, because I have never been “normal”. I do not know the difference. I do my best every day to imagine and to be empathetic towards others, but I do not understand. I don’t know. Continue reading

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Whiplash (Or, Making Responsible Decisions™)

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

A month and a half after ending this relationship, in no way did I feel like I was ready to start dating again. All I wanted to do was hang out with my friends and recuperate. But all of my friends were either happily coupled up or active on the dating scene, and I was starting to feel left out.

So I re-downloaded some dating apps I’d used in the past – they’d never worked for me, but I figured that there was no harm in talking to a few people online for a little while to boost my confidence.

And then I had my first match.  “_ says, ‘I walked into a cactus once.’ Message him and ask him about it!”

Obviously I did, because that is literally the best icebreaker ever. Continue reading

Twinning With Taylor Swift (In The Worst Possible Way)

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

Taylor Swift and I both broke up with our boyfriends recently.

You may be thinking, “Wait, you had a boyfriend?”

And I don’t blame you, because the relationship was so short that I didn’t have time to tell a whole lot of people about it.

I keep trying to write about my feelings on the situation so I can heal but for some reason the words just aren’t coming out. I think this is because there is one version of this story that I am comfortable talking about, the one in which I believe whatever I need to in order to feel okay about things – the one in which I believe whatever he says – but there is another version that I could barely even think about until now.

That’s the version in which I realize that I still do not have the full story, and the full story probably isn’t going to make me feel okay about anything. The full story is probably full of half truths and lies of omission and someone who doesn’t care even half as much as I thought he did (which was already only about half as much as I do). Continue reading

Taking a Tolerant Approach to Education

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

We talk and we talk and we talk about what needs to change in this world and the various things that we need to call people out on. But rarely do we talk about how exactly to do that.

I’d like to say that it doesn’t matter how you say something, it’s what you say, and in some cases that is true, but in this case, the “what” and the “how” are equally important. The “how” might even be more important.

Here is why – imagine that you’ve written something (it can be anything, even a text message), and someone reading it says to you, “Um, excuse me, but just so you know, semicolons are actually only supposed to be used when bla bla bla bla. I mean I don’t expect most people to know that, I’m just a huge stickler for grammar and I went to school for Creative Writing.”

Did reading that kind of piss you off? Because it pissed me off just to write it. Doesn’t whoever that person is sound like a stuck up douchebag? They sound like they’re lecturing, and not because they actually care about teaching you something, but because they want to show off the ways in which they are better than you. Continue reading

Conscious, Deliberate Mistakes

Hey kid, good morning,
You look like an angel.

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

I watched The Last Five Years recently, a movie I’ve owned for close to a year but never got around to watching. I knew it was sad; I knew it would make me Feel Things, but I didn’t foresee just how much.

The reason for that is because I thought that the story was going to be about the organic breakdown of a relationship that occurs even when both parties are trying their best and doing nothing wrong. And it mostly was, but there was another element too: cheating.

I have never cried harder at a movie. Or any piece of media, actually. I don’t cry at things unless they’re happening to me, generally. But this movie and its songs hit me right where it hurts in a way that is unique. Almost immediately after the song “Nobody Needs To Know” began, the waterworks started flowing.

In this scene, the male protagonist, Jamie, is seen having an affair with multiple different women. That’s pretty typical. What was different was that it was apparent that he actually cared about the women he was with. Normally you don’t see that. Normally what you see is a guy just fucking random girls left and right, telling them he’ll call and then doesn’t and forgets their names. And normally, said guy doesn’t care about his girlfriend either. Continue reading