I’ve seen a lot of stuff on social media lately which has harrowed me quite a bit about the attitude of some people towards mental health. Dealing with mental health problems is scary and some of the consensus towards it makes it even scarier to speak out when we’re almost conditioned to think that if you’re generally happy and you go out with your friends and have fun and actively use social media etc that you don’t qualify for mental health struggles – well you definitely do, and its still as scary! I thought it would have been good to write something, not just about my own experience, but about the consequences of ignorance towards mental health and how continuing to encourage the stigma can discourage people to speak out.
Mental illness is something which has impacted a lot more people than you would think. Whether its depression, anxiety or eating disorders to name a few. Lately I’ve seen some fairly ignorant comments on social media questioning the legitimacy of a persons mental health condition. Things like, “She’s uploading loads of selfies, how can she say that she has depression?” Comments like this are so dangerous and just encourage the growth of the mental health stigma. A massively generalised definition of depression is the feeling of feeling really, really low and due to flyaway comments made on the likes of Twitter or Facebook etc there becomes this almost pressure to ensure that your behaviour correlates with the symptoms of your condition or the legitimacy of your battles is questioned? It’s scary that this kind of thing is still pretty rife when this is us having progressed from previous years approach to mental health. I don’t want to call it ignorance towards mental health, because it’s not always due to ignorance. Sometimes people just simply aren’t educated enough or are lucky enough to be in a comfortable position were they haven’t experienced any mental battles but I think as a society everyone should make it their place to have a general grasp of this kinda thing.
Mental health isn’t black and white and people have their own ways of coping with their struggles. It is nobody’s place to question the legitimacy of a persons condition if they are out socialising or they’re uploading x, y and z a picture. For example, if someone struggles with their body image and they take a nice picture of themselves, it can make them feel good and reassure them – which is often rare for people affected by similar conditions.
People with the likes a depression can often find themselves unwilling to leave home during depressive episodes, so if they’re out socialising or doing something they enjoy then fairplay to them – of course they should document it! It’s this perception that people who go out with their friends and smile and enjoy themselves “can’t be depressed” that deters a lot of people from speaking out about their mental health. Anybody can be affected regardless of age, background, appearance etc. and if you are lucky enough not to have experienced this kinda thing yourself, you should still recognise that this can happen to literally anyone and when it does happen its not weird or shameful. It just happens sometimes and careless comments about certain conditions can really hinder someones recovery.
Again, mental health isn’t black and white and often when people are struggling with it, the bad times can outweigh the good. So when a vulnerable person finds a glimmer of interest or happiness in something – an urge to do something that doesn’t comply with the conventional notion of “depression” or any mental illness – they should be able to pursue that without question!