Mental illnesses are not hashtags. They are not black and white photos of scarred wrists or sad quotes about loneliness. They are real diseases that real people fight every day. To be exact, they are real diseases that 25% of Americans fight every day. People die from these diseases each day and yet teenagers sit behind their computer and glamorize them for the purpose of “aesthetic”. I’m tired of seeing Tumblr blogs and tweets about these illnesses making them look attractive. Mental illness is not attractive. It ruins lives. It kills.
The fact that someone would take the time to chronicle their mental illness for the world to see is a cry for help if I’ve ever seen one. The people who post these things need love and support, not reblogs and likes. That internet fame may be great for the first few minutes, but as everyone who has ever posted anything online could tell you, just wait for the negative comments. Also, anyone can take a picture, slap a sad quote on it, and fake having one of these diseases all for the gratification and pity. I promise you, from both personal experience and knowing individuals who have suffered from severe mental illness, this is something you don’t want to have. In a conversation with someone I know very well who has gone through some tough battles with depression, they made a really good point. Someone who is suffering from these illnesses barely has the energy to get out of bed in the morning, what makes you think that they will have the energy to take, edit, and post these pictures in the first place? Yes, these images and posts may be a legitimate cry for help, but they may also be for attention and approval from others. So why fake it? Why try to make it seem cool and edgy? Why pretend to be someone you’re not and why has this become such a huge phenomenon?
I definitely believe that having the bravery to speak out about a disease that you suffer from is something to celebrate. I am so incredibly proud of each and every person that has the courage to tell their story. It’s not an easy thing to do. And some people choose to speak out through art and by posting it online. I’m not talking about these people. I’m talking about the ones who think it’s glamorous to have one of these diseases. That it adds to the “aesthetic” of their social media accounts. It’s the ones who fake it that aggravate me.
The thing that bothers me the most is that there are people seeing these images that have no idea the extent to which they are dangerous. They don’t see the pain and the internal battles the person is fighting, all they see is a eerily beautiful image or relatable quote. They eventually become convinced that mental illness is beautiful and something to celebrate– and it’s absolutely not. It’s something that kills. It’s something that eats away at people, literally and figuratively. It’s something that ruins relationships and tears households apart. None of these beautiful images will portray these realities.
My ten year old brother is on social media. He doesn’t necessarily have a Tumblr blog or a Twitter account, but he does have an Instagram account. He also has an iPod which he can use to easily access the internet. At age ten, you’re extremely impressionable. If you see something that you find visually appealing, you try to be like them. It’s all part of the process of socialization. You see people and read stories that you like and you imitate them. When you see people getting approval for things even today, at age 18, or age 40, doesn’t it kind of make you want to be like them? Don’t you want to get that approval too? So wouldn’t it make sense that these young children– and even teenagers– seek to be like these people who may or may not be suffering from mental illness and glamorizing it on social media? The problem is, these kids don’t know the reality that individuals suffering from mental illness face every day. A photo or quote can’t sum up the absolute hell that they live in on a daily basis.
Depression is not fun. Anxiety is not special. Self harm scars are not artsy or beautiful. Suicide is not poetic. Eating disorders are not glamorous. Don’t say you are bipolar because your feelings change. You do not want these diseases, I promise you. Mental illnesses are not beautiful or romantic so please stop treating them that way.
Here is an article by someone who describes this issue so much better than I ever will be able to. I highly recommend you read it to get the full idea of what I’m trying to say.