Depression, anxiety, addictions, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, eating disorders and PTSD, are not beautiful words. These are words that affect people in various, harmful ways every day.
Way too often the girl who cries after a breakup is being labeled as depressed, the boy who likes to clean is being labeled OCD and the teenager who is angry is called bipolar. These terms are being thrown around so nonchalantly that their real meaning is not recognized as a serious illness anymore. They are often not being looked at as serious diseases, but often normalized and romanticized. Teenagers today spend endless amount of time on social media such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. It's now almost guaranteed, when logging onto a form of social media you see a picture of a way too skinny girl, with scars running up her legs and a flower crown. Maybe with a caption that says “flowers in my hair and demons in my head.” Websites like Tumblr often beautify the idea of depression, self-harm and suicide. There will many times be pictures of killer things such as pills, razor blades, cigarettes, and drugs with descriptions like “going to my happy place” and hashtags such as #beautiful. “Sometimes, depression feels like nothing. It’s the absence of feelings. Which is why to people who’ve never really learned about it, someone with a severe, life-threatening mental illness can just kinda look like some dude who sleeps too much and won’t do stuff. Notice how the words 'pretty,' 'beautiful,' 'romantic' or 'pale' didn’t show up in that description. Because it’s none of those things.” Quoted by Sarah Salone Macleod on astrorice.com, a teenager diagnosed with depression. Romanticizing pictures associated with mental illness causes teenagers to be triggered by the imagery. The pictures seen on these websites of pretty girls with mascara running down their cheeks, and dangerous drugs labeled “my happy place” may not be the reason someone is diagnosed with depression, but it triggers the wrong idea that this terrible mental illness can be beautiful. These graphic pictures and videos are easily spread across the Internet by reblogging, retweeting, and sharing the posts. There is nothing artistic about self-inflicted cuts on your wrists. There is nothing romantic about waking up in the hospital after an overdose.
Aside from depression and addiction, eating disorders are glorified as well. On social media, in magazines, and on the TV there is a constant overflow of pictures of beautiful skinny men and women with captions such as “HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT” and “HOW TO GET THE CELEBRITY LOOK.” These captions cause people to strive and become what society considers beautiful and handsome. When these impossible, photoshopped standards are not met, those people are disappointed. They feel the judgment of their peers and criticize themselves. All of these images portraying the most attractive and acceptable people plays a toll on how people, especially teens, view themselves and can cause low self-esteem issues. (Hack, BearFacts) This low self-esteem due to the unrealistic “beautiful” girls in photos can cause depression and a constant feeling of not being good enough. The stress of meeting society's standards builds up over time causing a feeling of hopelessness and can lead to self-harm, eating disorders and chronic depression. The eating disorders which are portrayed making girls “beautiful” are unhealthy habits and certainly not beautiful.
So the question is why? Why is social media making these life-taking illnesses look artsy and beautiful?
Well, the answer may never fully be understood but I came to a conclusion of my own. Teenagers today are so desperate to be understood and to fit in. When they log online and see all these disturbing yet made beautiful images, and all the comments of people sympathizing for the beautiful depressed girl in the photo , a new “social depression” is developed. I'm not claiming these internet bloggers do not think and feel the same feelings they are reblogging, but being surrounded by the negative images sets a negative mind. And develops the “fitting in” mindset. Depression and other mental illnesses are not beautiful. They are not something to glorify and romanticize. They are not the way Tumblr portrays them. If you or someone you know is suffering from a serious mental illness, seeking professional care is the best option. Posting black and white photos with a poetic sad caption is not. Imagine someone with major depression logging into Tumblr looking for a sign NOT to end their lives and seeing a captioned photo quoting “suicidal people are just angels who want to return home.” This would make them feel that suicide is a valid way to end their problems. This is why these illnesses need to stop being posted as art. Some people may be posting these as art or for attention, but others will see this as their only option. (Rick, thetab.com)
These illnesses are illnesses. They need to be treated as such. They are serious and they are taking multiple lives every day. They are not beautiful or desirable. If you or someone you know is suffering please seek professional help, not Internet help.