For the past, I want to say five years? Mental health and illnesses have been a major topic on social media. Personally, i think this helped to start a healthy debate on the topics but now has escalated into something completely different. With all the Facebook statuses and celebrity interviews where people ”come clean” about their mental illnesses, it almost seems like its become sort of a trend to struggle with one’s mental health.
At first, I was so glad that mental health sparked a debate around the entire world. I loved to hear about other people’s stories that were similar to mine. Since mental disorders are (or at least was) a very personal and at times lonely thing to go thorugh, it was refreshing that so many kept reassuring me that it was all going to be okay and that I was not alone. However, It didn’t take long for me to start questioning the increasing amount of people admitting to struggling with their mental health. Don’t get me wrong though, I do believe that the majority of the people proclaiming this is sincere in their declaration. But I also think that we have to take in consideration that most people know little to nothing about mental health. A lot of people read these statuses and interviews and find them relatable, which then leads them to think ”maybe this is the case with me too.” Then you begin searching about the illnesses online and just like that, you’ve diagnosed yourself with depression or an anxiety disorder. EVERYONE feels depressed and/or anxious at times. (or longer periods of times) It’s horrible and feels like the worst kind of torture, BUT THAT DOESN’t MEAN YOU HAVE A DISORDER.
I feel like we’ve come to the point where people are sick of hearing about other people’s ”disorders”, but nobody says anything cause they don’t want to look like an asshole for not believing them. Only in the comfort of their closest acquaintances or in their own mind is their skepticism voiced out loud. But you can still see their judgment in their eyes, and in the way their mouths become a thin line as you tell them you have a mental disorder. And though I’ve been on the receiving end of that look more times than I care to think about, I have to admit I understand them. (to a certain degree ofcourse!)
Before, when admitting to having to get treatment for a mental illness, the general perception was that you were unstable, crazy and even dangerous, and clearing up that misconception is probably the only positive thing that’s come out of this new trend of ”having a mental illness”. Now however, I’m back to square one again.. Where I don’t talk about my disorder in fear of a completely different kind of judgement. It’s gone full circle and now I’m afraid again to tell people about my disorder because I’m scared of it being trivialized.
I can’t sign off on this without touching on the problem old media (like movies and tv series) brings to the table. We need to stop romanticizing mental disorders! characters are not ”deep” and mysterious by being depressed. They are not romantic or ”an intriguing troubled soul” by having an anxiety disorder. You don’t get to use real, medical disorders as a quirky personality trait! This gives the viewers the perception that the disorder is something to be desired, which it’s really, really not.
One last disclaimer: The hypocrisy of me writing this post is not lost on me people. I’m doing exactly the same thing as the people I’m condemning, I am well aware of that. But for selfish reasons I don’t care to figure out, I found it necessary for me to write this.
End of rant.