The recent push for mental health awareness has caused organizations and medical societies to create countless hotlines and resources for those suffering from debilitating illnesses and aid them in various roads to recovery. The increased normalization of seeking mental help has been able to convince society that mental illness isn’t just something fabricated in someone’s head.
My parents tell me stories of when they were my age, and how mental illness was a taboo subject that everyone avoided talking about. Being able to be open now about problems that I am going through, problems that are invisible from an outside perspective, is not only freeing, but also comforting. It has now become normalized to seek help if you are dealing with mental illnesses.
Many have turned to social media to share their stories in an effort to relate to others and let them know that they are not alone. This is important because with mental illness, it is always unique to the individual. It’s easy to feel like no one else is dealing with what you are. Reading about others, just like you, can not only result in hope , but inspiration.
However, there will always be individuals who will never experience what it is like to have to cope with various mental illnesses. With the topic of mental illness scattered around social media, many have become desensitized to the intensity and seriousness of these various illnesses. The constant talk of depression and anxiety has caused many to exaggerate their feelings and emotions and use mental illnesses as the diagnosis of their normal emotions. Blaming very real mental illnesses on a bad day or a stressful weekend is extremely wrong and makes individuals who actually suffer from these illnesses not only feel invalid but also embarrassed. I am guilty of using terms like “depression” and “anxiety” to describe momentary feelings of sadness or stress. I have tried to recently change my language to more accurately represent my feelings and emotions.
It is just a slight change in your vocabulary but a large change in your outlook and understanding of mental illnesses. Educating yourself on the difference between emotions and mental illnesses shows maturity and empathy towards those suffering from these illnesses.
I invite you to notice your language and the way you express your emotions. Please educate your friends as well and make the conscious effort to change.