Why The Glorification Of Mental Illness Needs To Stop

Why The Glorification Of Mental Illness Needs To Stop

I grew up with it in my life. And it's not a title to just hand out.
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“Why are you acting so bipolar today?”

“Don’t you know I have like, such bad anxiety?”

It’s everywhere I turn. People so quick to self-diagnose themselves, or others, with mental conditions like it’s nothing. But it is. It’s a serious, life-changing hardship that around 57 million people suffer from in the U.S. every year. It needs to stop.

I grew up around mental illness with a family member who suffered from BPD, or borderline personality disorder. It’s characterized by impulsivity, severe mood swings, fear of abandonment and trouble regulating emotion. Besides causing significant turmoil for the victim, it causes tense relationships with others and often leaves the person feeling as though no one understands what they’re going through. Although I was lucky in having them explain what they were feeling to me and in being able to be there for them and help them, it still was and is extremely hard sometimes.

There were times I couldn’t relate and didn’t understand why they were being certain ways or how to help. I would grow frustrated, and so would they. Some days they wouldn’t want to talk to anyone, even me. Other days they would want to go out and take the world by storm. You never knew which version you would get. When I was younger, I didn’t understand this. As I grew older, they explained a lot of their disorder to me and we grew extremely close as a result. I understand that what they deal with is extremely difficult to manage and I do my best to help and be understanding, especially when others are not. But while some days are good, other days are still very hard for both of us. It’s a constant battle.

Knowing firsthand the stress and anxiety that having a mental condition can have on someone’s life, the romanticizing of these disorders in modern society is particularly frustrating to me. In the advent of social media, Tumblr and Instagram have become increasingly popular. Type in “depression” or “anxiety” and you’ll get blogs littered with black and white photos of people crying, slit wrists or quoted photos with phrases like “Life is too hard.” I feel like it’s almost as if those conditions have become trends or aesthetics much like goth or emo are. What’s worse is that people will “like” and reblog these pictures or posts, spreading them further and further. Nothing is more twisted to me than a picture of someone who has self-harmed getting “likes.” These disorders are so much more than wearing black or having a bad day. They are scary and they control people’s lives. It’s not cool or trendy to say you have them and it’s not cool to non-chalantly throw around phrases like “crazy” to describe someone every time they are being emotional.

On this same point, using these words without truly understanding them contributes to the phenomenon of those same conditions being downplayed and not taken seriously. You’ll hear people telling someone who’s suffering from depression to just snap out of it or someone who’s bipolar to stop being so moody. It’s not a phase or something that can be easily fixed. Dealing with these disorders takes all of the willpower and strength a person has. Nothing is worse than others making fun of the struggle or acting as though it’s a joke. The glorification of mental illness does just that.

I’m not sure when these trends started, but they need to stop. Sites like Tumblr and Instagram, while great, have turned into a platform for these disorders to become glamorized. It’s become acceptable for anyone dealing with a little stress or who’s having a bad day to claim they have anxiety or clinical depression. I suppose these people think there’s something edgy or cool about saying you have them. It’s produced a culture in which our generation doesn’t take mental illness seriously or understand it the way we should. It is life-changing, difficult, and nothing about it is glamorous at all. Let’s start taking these disorders seriously and realizing the magnitude of the struggle people who deal with them go through.

Cover Image Credit: Odyssey

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Take A Break, Trust Me, You Need It

It was something I didn't know I needed. And I feel much better from it.

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I recently went on a little mini vacation. Where'd I go, you ask? Nowhere.

That's the best part.

Thankfully, I have a full-time job with great benefits. One of them being paid time off. I recently used all of my PTO, plus the two days I get off a week, which turned into a long and well-needed mini staycation. I stayed at home, slept, caught up on my programs, did some homework, and decluttered.

And you know what? It was something I didn't know I needed. And I feel much better from it.

I wasn't sick. I was mainly just stressed out and overwhelmed. It was like getting the rest I didn't know I was lacking. It was like having all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. No due dates, no deadlines. No time crunches, no schedules to follow (except my school one).

I'm not telling you to take a week off work and school. But, if you have that opportunity—PTO, spring break—then take advantage of it.

You don't have to go on some extravagant vacation either. Doing something as simple as staying in bed all day, watching Netflix, and spending time with your loved ones is just as relaxing.

It also taught me the importance of self-love and taking care of yourselves. I was stressed, and I feel like I'll never be fully "de-stressed," but for a while, I was able to sit back and smell the roses. I was able to recollect myself, spend some time on me.

Sometimes, you just need a day. Whenever I feel like I need a day off, whether it be with work or school, I usually feel bad about it. I feel awful missing class, or having to call out sick to work. I eventually get over it, though, because at the end of the day, I'm taking care of myself.

Missing one day won't kill you. Take care of your mental health.

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