Trigger Warning: This article is a rant, it is about the romanticisation of mental illness. This article talks about Depression, PTSD, OCD, Anxiety, Bulimia, Mental Health, Cancer, Medication, Illness, and my experience of the mental health issues. If you are triggered by any of these issues or topics, please skip or proceed with this warning in mind.
Bad mental health is not romantic; it’s not about being too strong for too long; it’s also not trendy.
Let me tell you what a bad mental health is from my point of view:
- Being in chronic emotional pain and feeling guilty for being ill.
- Being in a constant depression and not being able to get out of it or even enjoy the small things that everyone else does.
- Being woken up in the middle of the night by a repetitive nightmare every night that will cause a major panic attack and leave me unable to sleep afterwards.
- Being afraid of sleep due to night terrors.
- Not being able to do certain activities with people due to being too scared, paranoid, and phobic of being anywhere – even at school or being at home with more than the usual residents.
- Being unable to do certain tasks without completing a ritual, if the ritual isn’t done, a panic attack will set in.
- Constantly having fatigue due to the lack of motivation.
- Being so lacking in motivation that I can’t even get out of bed to use the bathroom.
- Having to work on a timed schedule during each and every day in order to not rip my own head off.
- Being so food conscious that I feel sick after eating a normal meal.
- Not being able to look at myself in the mirror without wanting to cry.
- Sometimes needing medication to ground myself.
- Needing to take Anti-Depressants in order to help myself and find a new way of coping that doesn’t make me worse.
Feeding the romanticisation of Mental Illness is, in essence, feeding the stigma around mental health.
The romanticisation is everywhere – an example of it is the quote of “Depression isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of being strong for too long”. Now, the first part – Depression isn’t a sign of weakness – is right! I completely agree! However, by generalising Depression into one type is really terrible. Why? Because we’re not all fallen heroes.
The type of depression that the quote is referring to is regular Depression which is a mood that happens, usually stays for a few weeks and then leaves. This type of depression is usually associated with a death of a loved one or losing your job.
However, the quote doesn’t take into account the possibility of someone’s depression being the disorder type. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), also known as Clinical Depression, is a mood disorder which keeps the host in an almost constant state of depression. Some people can go through it for months, while others suffer from it for years. As an MDD sufferer, I can honestly say it’s really not about being strong for too long – I wish it was that simple. I’ve been suffering from MDD since the age of seven, and I’m now nineteen and I’ve only just started taking medication that is actually helping! My longest depressive stint was six years. My shortest being five months.
The shortest stint of MDD that I’ve seen in other people seems to be around twelve weeks (three months).
Another way some people romanticise mental illness is by suggesting that medication is a bad thing and all that is needed is to be outdoors! And then there are the people who think Social Media is causing ADHD, when ADHD is actually genetic, not nurtured… Yeah, some people think you can learn to be ill by not using your brain enough – you can thank people like Prince Ea for that – the only topic he’s good on is education, he should probably stay away from Mental health issues.
The concept that going outside and being in fresh air, as well as using technology less, is really degrading and highly inappropriate. Why? I hear you ask. Well, it’s because generalising everyone’s mental health issues as just being a lack of fresh air, and being a construct brought on by technology is pretty ridiculous. And the worst thing is about this is that they’re suggesting that medication cannot be used due to mental health issues being in your head – clearly, these people haven’t figured out that the brain is an organ, which sometimes needs to be medicated!
Mental health issues sometimes need medication – not all the time, but some do – just like any other part of the body. Why? Because mental illnesses and disorders are sometimes like diseases.
Some mental health issues are like ticking time bombs that are waiting to be triggered and cause damage, and the damage can be fatal.
Imagine Depression being a form of cancer – it’s triggered by an event which worsens the already bad disease. However, it’s treatable, it can be solved by using a medication or therapy. Would you take the medication to prevent the cancer from spreading and killing you, or someone you love, would you take it?
But like other diseases, medication and therapy aren’t always needed. It can help some, but not all. Why? Because our body and minds react to everything differently, just like how two cancer patients with the same level of health and age, can react in two very different ways to Chemotherapy.
The stigma around mental health issues is deadly, for those who need help but can’t find it, and for those being ignored due to it.
There is more than one type of anything. After all, you’re the only person who can see your mental health the way you can – you can share it and explain yours, but you can’t quite explain other people’s experiences.
And people on social media, in the media, and around us generalising a spectrum to be just one thing, really need to stop – it may seem like you’re helping, but you’re causing more damage than you will ever know.