This is just a brief post expressing a pet peeve of mine that applies (and has done so often and at length) to me personally.
I’ve encountered this issue anew, eliciting ever-increasing tension, stress, anger, irritation, despair, etc., in my research into Asperger’s/Autism Spectrum Disorder, as people “on the spectrum” are quite often plagued by anxiety and depression, among other things, including frequent suicidal ideation…and of course, much well-intended advice is given (it being the worst and most prevalent of all vices).
The issue involves people* making suggestions such as, for instance, that those who are troubled by depression should exercise regularly, because regular exercise often seems to help depression**; or that they should talk to close friends or family members (a particular problem with “Aspies”, or so it seems to me, since communication difficulty, particularly of emotions and the like, is a major part of the condition); and that, if one is severely depressed and self-loathing and having suicidal thoughts (or intentions), one should seek help right away.
Or similar sentiments.
This all feels so condescending and simple-minded and contradictory. It’s a bit like telling an actively drowning person that getting swimming lessons would be really good for helping them not drown, or that being helped by a friendly dolphin (or any kindly member of some other strong-swimming aquatic species unrelated to the drowner) would be quite beneficial for them, or that they should really come quickly to shore and grab a flotation device before they drown.
It’s missing the point(s) entirely.
If one could exercise regularly, one would already obviously not be THAT depressed.
If one could easily talk to people (especially if one is on “the spectrum”***) and had people to whom one felt one could talk in a relevant way about the relevant subject(s), then that would be an obvious thing, and probably already done.
And if one is feeling utter despair and profound, demonic self-loathing, then availing oneself of help of any kind–including life-saving help–seems not only impossible but frankly immoral.
You don’t do your best to give succor to or save the life of someone who is utterly reprehensible and an unadulterated malefactor who has no chance for reform or to be redeemed, right? Would you save the likes of the next Hitler or Stalin or Charles Manson or Mark David Chapman?
If someone is lying on the ground having a heart attack or a stroke or has just been hit by a car, we don’t advise them to get up and get themselves to a hospital, do we? It’s absurd. It’s insulting. It’s irritating and it’s idiotic, and it makes the world and the rest of humanity seem even less worth sticking around for****.
I wish people would stop it. When someone really needs help, it’s means they can’t survive and/or thrive by their own actions. Thus the metaphor “in over one’s head”.
I’ll close with an a related cartoon that captures more than one aspect of my (not quite domesticated) peeve (apologies, I do not know whom to credit for it):
* Well-meaning, one must admit or at least assume.
**I have my own suspicions about the direction of causality here.
***Especially if alexithymia is one of their afflictions. I myself score 157 out of 185 on the online test of this, such as it is. I have a hard time even knowing what I’m feeling at any given moment, let alone communicating it clearly.
****It can even make it seem tolerable to end a sentence with a preposition, or to allow sentence fragments to stand alone on a line of type for dramatic effect.