I saw a post on Instagram today about how people glorify mental illness and eating disorders. It pointed out how things like depression and anxiety are seen as quirky, self-harm scars are seen as poetic or beautiful and eating disorders are glamourous in the eyes of the media. This makes myself, and a lot of other people angry, so I'm going to take the time to explain to you the dangers of glorifying mental illness.
When you take something serious like mental illness or an eating disorder and make it seem "glamourous" or "cool" you'll then have a certain few people who decide to pretend to have said illness or disorder for whatever reason, be it to gain attention or to seem more 'interesting'. The main reason why pretending to suffer from something like this is wrong is that it makes mental illness be taken less seriously by people such as Guidance Councillors, teachers, parents and even your peers, because it's supposedly the 'trendy' thing for teenagers to be mentally ill. This means that people who are actually suffering and get up the courage to go to someone for help are now more likely to be brushed off as just another teen following the trends, or told it's just a"phase" and you'll get over it. This is discouraging people from asking for help, because to put yourself in that vulnerable position and then to not be taken seriously is a terrifying thought and is a serious deterrent for anyone who's trying to build up the courage to ask for help.
What I'm trying to say is you wouldn't pretend to have a physical illness like diabetes of C.F, so why would you pretend to have a mental illness? Mental illness is just as serious as physical illness and can be just as crippling, so why isn't it being treated the same? Why is it common to be told you're 'looking for attention' when really you're looking for help? Society is a messed up place as it is, but one by one we can raise awareness about mental health and educate people about how serious it is and how it's not something to be taken lightly and joked about.
So next time you go to say how "depressed" you are that Brangelina broke up, or make a joke about Sarah's "OCD" just because her locker is well organised, or claim you might have a panic attack about that presentation you have to give after lunch. Next time you see that black and white picture of self-harm scars on Tumblr with the deep quote and think how poetic that is, or mention how Anna looks anorexic in her new profile picture, or talk about how bipolar your mum's being lately, please think about the people who actually suffer from mental illness on a daily basis. Think of the girl who looks in the mirror every morning and thinks about how fat she looks even though she hasn't eaten in weeks, or the boy who's on more medication than most elderly people, or that woman who has panic attacks almost daily and it stops her performing day to day tasks. These people's lives have been affected by mental illness, and yet people are still making jokes.
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