Mental illness is very common within the United States. Approximately 1 in 5 US adults lives with one. There are a number of conditions that fall under the term, including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. These conditions also sit on a severity spectrum ranging from mild to severe.
Diagnosing patients with mental illness is still difficult today because there is no test that will provide concrete results. Physicians will often have to perform a series of both medical and mental tests and write referrals to psychiatrists and other mental illness professionals. The process is often long and expensive, especially for individuals with no medical insurance.
I often notice on social media, especially on Gen Z-dominated TikTok, individuals complaining about how anxiety and depression have become "common," "normalized," or even "appropriated." They are obviously upset about how they suffer from these conditions that are now being discussed all over the platform.
Growing up with strict brown parents, I was never taught about mental illness. I was told to tell my physician, when we would receive the depression questionnaire at our annual check-up, to answer no to all of the questions and tell them that we are fine. Afraid of punishment, I did as I was told. The truth was I started struggling with my mental health when I was just 12. I went from being an incredibly happy and active girl to having random crying spells and feeling dissociated from my own life.
I mustered the courage to finally visit a counselor at my university when I was 19, and I broke down in front of her. It was years of pent up trauma, self-hatred, and emotional instability, all spilling out in the small room while she furiously scribbled on her clipboard.
Not everyone has the privilege of going to a therapist.
Not everyone has the privilege of getting diagnosed.
Not everyone can even afford to make a visit to the doctor.
I still share medical insurance with my parents, so although I exhibit a lot of the symptoms that are caused by an anxiety disorder, I never could get diagnosed out of the fear that my parents would be informed. It doesn't take an M.D, however, to know that feeling like you're going to pass out when doing the most trivial things is a hallmark sign of anxiety.
The next time someone complains about their anxiety or depression, support them. Don't question them, ask them if they're okay. You never know what someone has been through.