This issue is important to me because people suffering from mental health issues are often misrepresented on social media, with people often claiming that they are undergoing mental health issues for the general aesthetic that comes with it. However, people on the other side of the spectrum with rarer or more complex disorders are often treated as monsters or fragile beings who might implode any minute.
Not everyone’s struggle is the same
Even though the numbers of people affected by depression and anxiety are large, other devastating illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and eating disorders like bulimia and binge eating are underrepresented. This further excludes the sufferers as they are marginalized and made to feel alone and like freaks.
They’re not monsters
Often, the fact that disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar are a generally umbrella diagnosis is overlooked, and people make the assumption that all those affected have the same symptoms. Saying that something is an umbrella diagnosis means that there is a broad range of symptoms and not everyone’s illnesses are identical. For example, schizophrenia can manifest as disorganized speech, hallucinations, delusions and sudden changes in behaviour, but people have misapprehensions that the disorder causes split personality and violent behaviour. Therefore, people often incorrectly associate it with psychopathic tendencies.
It’s not cool to be depressed
Not just in movies and literature, but now on our own phones and on social media, depression and other prevalent mental illnesses are constantly being romanticized for an ‘arty’ aesthetic. The indie girl that is alienated from her peers at high school, or the teenage boy who walks lethargically home whilst the rain pounds around him - these seem to downplay and make light of bullying and other causes of mental illness, presenting mental illness as a superficial condition. It also has a detrimental effect on those who are suffering due to underlying problems which are not visible at the surface, making them feel that they are insignificant and causing them to dismiss their problems.