This isn’t the first time I’ve written about my struggles with mental health, and it certainly won’t be the last. For the past two years, I’ve struggled with my diagnosis of depression, anxiety and, as of recently, “a little PTSD,” as my doctor described it. It comes and goes in waves, so sometimes I have really, really good periods, and sometimes I have really, really bad ones. It was a diagnosis that I really had a hard time coming to terms with; I had a hard time accepting it, and I had a hard time admitting it to others. I didn’t want to accept that there was something “wrong” with me, and it was a topic that people seemed uncomfortable to discuss.
So when in the hell did it become a fashion trend? When did it become funny to joke about killing yourself? I must’ve missed the memo that it was now cool to have a mental illness, that it was cool to toss around words like adjectives as if they didn’t completely affect someone else’s life, that words like “depression” and “anxiety” were simply words used to glamorize your emotions or maybe you think you’re funny.
No, you’re not “depressed” because your friend bailed on you on a night out. No, you’re not “depressed” because your favorite actor died. Depression is pulling yourself out of bed and then trying to talk yourself into having the strength to go to work as you stare at someone in the mirror that you don’t recognize. It’s calling in sick when you lose that battle, and then laying on the couch for hours on end in complete silence and staring at the wall because everything else is too much and it hurts to think. Depression is not showering for days because it’s simply too much damn work, and then once you do, it’s letting the water run cold all over your body because you’re numb. It’s sitting in your car, crying on your lunch break, trying to will yourself to go back inside and finish your job.
Depression is trying to do the things you used to love, to find that you feel nothing. It’s feeling literally nothing, and everything, all at the same time. It’s trying so hard to keep yourself together just so people won’t worry about you. It’s trying so hard to get better, yet still, watch people be frustrated with you. It’s crying so much for no reason, and then being unable to cry at all. And sometimes, it’s not being able to give a single fuck about anything.
No, the sound of someone clicking their pen does not “give you anxiety.” It might make you anxious or annoy you, but it does not give you anxiety. Anxiety is not a synonym for “annoyed.” Anxiety is constantly feeling like you did something wrong – like you’re constantly missing the bottom step. It’s feeling an attack coming on, and knowing there’s nothing you can do to stop it. It’s your hands shaking so badly that you can’t even sign your name when the attack gets so bad that you have to go to the hospital. Anxiety is feeling like someone constantly keeps knocking the wind out of you. The walls are closing in and you’re drowning, yet you keep fighting to keep your head above the water.
No, you’re not cool for popping a Prozac just because you’re a little stressed out and you need to “chill out.” When something mildly stressful happens and you dramatically groan, “ugh, I need a Xanax,” you’re not being funny or cute or trendy. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds are literally the only difference between getting out of bed in the morning and succumbing to the fight for some people. It’s a lifeline for so many people who need it to regulate the chemical imbalances in their brains and make life bearable enough that they can function. They can’t just take it whenever they feel like they need it or whenever they want to seem “cool.” It’s going through trial and error of finding what will work and having to deal with the side effects of every single one. It’s not eating for nearly days because your anti-depressants make you lose your appetite, and feeling nauseous when you do. It’s waiting weeks at a time to even see results of a new pill and then starting over when it doesn’t work.
Think about what you’re saying. When you toss those words around as if they’re nothing, you’re taking so much away from those who suffer from those illnesses. If everyone is careless using the words to describe emotions that are much less than what they actually mean, how can anybody in the mental health community expect to be taken seriously?
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National
Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free,
24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please
visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database