Mental Illness is not Fashionable

I’d like to think the title is pretty self-explanatory. I mean, I’ve seen this message spanning across all types of social media and I’m glad to see that people are able to receive this message. Yet I don’t think it’s being drilled in enough as it should be.

There are people still out there with the silly notion that having a mental illness will lead to something more, whether it be your personality, your creativity, or even your social life. That having a mental illness makes you interesting. People still don’t understand the debilitating effect mental illness can have on you in all aspects.

I don’t think it is understood that feeling of being up for hours trying to sleep. That feeling of not remembering when you last fell asleep without crying or worrying incessantly about every aspect of your life, even more so that time you may have said something embarrassing several years ago. Or the few hours’ sleep you do get, how exhausted you are when you wake. Is there anything smart about that?

Or how about when your relationships come under strain? You start to question whether any of them are your friends at all. When you want to spend all your time alone, why would you want to go out and meet with friends? Then if you do go out, you get overwhelmed, anxiety-ridden, and even have a panic attack. If you’re lucky, you have friends who understand and try to work through this with you. If you’re not, you have friends that grow frustrated, question whether there really is something wrong, forget, mock, or just don’t bother with you. Because that’s something that everyone wants, isn’t it?

There’s nothing romantic about panic attacks. There’s nothing romantic about cutting yourself to feel pain. There’s nothing romantic about sticking your fingers down your throat and feeling your throat burn for days after. And there is nothing romantic about wanting to die.

People can question you and most of all, you question yourself. Your whole existence is one big question mark. Your self-esteem is at your lowest and you’re too stupid, too fat, too annoying, too ugly. No caring, quirky, metaphorical white boy is there to turn around and be there for you always. John Green lied. And you’re lying to yourself.

There was nothing amazing about sitting in the bathroom, trying not to let people hear me cry for hours, or the long scratch marks across my legs and forearms. There was nothing glamorous about leaning over the toilet and emptying my stomach until it ached. There was nothing inspiring by the way I didn’t move for hours on end and my mind and emotions were a complete blank.

So it’s time to stop pretending you have something wrong with you, whether through attention or ignorance. People like to protest mental illness when it suits them and they don’t want to do their homework, but when it’s a real crippling illness, people suddenly aren’t as interested. I mean, who cares about people who are mentally disturbed? Right?

Be kinder to those who struggle and educate yourself. People with mental illness don’t need you ignoring them when they’re trying to ignore themselves. Mental illness is not a fashion accessory but a real issue. So starting treating it as such.

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