We live in a world today where obsessive-compulsive disorder is trivialized by Monica Geller’s ‘quirks’ in the name of humor. Where Insomnia sneaks into every other teenager’s Instagram Bio, going by the name of a wise ‘Night Owl’. Where things like OCD and depression disorders are thrown to diagnoses by ones self each and every day. Where harboring unhealthy coping mechanisms earns you the ultimate Chandler Bing Award. Where Eugenia Cooney is a Youtube celebrity with millions of fans, and where everybody on Tumblr is a mental health professional.
You do not have a mental illness because the internet said you do.
Let me ask you something. Have you ever seen someone write poems about the intricate beauty of a cancerous tumor? Or someone with piles deriving disproportionate metaphors from the blood in their stool? Of course not. Because that’s just messed up. Right?
Then why do you do it with mental illness? Why do you treat it like something it’s not? Why has it ceased to be a medical term, and turned into a ‘style statement’ instead? A big part of working to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness is to be aware of its misrepresentation in today’s popular culture. Trust me, you do not have a mental illness because the internet said you do and also trust me, you don’t want to either. There’s a reason it takes so much time and effort to become a psychiatrist – because these are seriously complicated issues that they deal with and they need a lot of practice and expertise.
You do not have bipolar disorder because you are moody. It results from an imbalance in neuro chemicals and is one of the hardest disorders to diagnose. Bipolarity is standing in front of a noose one night and spending your lifelong savings on a shopping spree four weeks later. It is not feeling happy one moment and angry the next. It is way, way more serious than that.
Being a sociopath does not make you Sherlock Holmes. If you are rude and insensitive to others, you are not a trendy sociopath, you’re an asshole. It makes you a potentially dangerous individual with an impairment in the orbital cortex of your brain. It makes you capable of destroying other human beings and doing things that can land you in lifelong imprisonment.
Depression is not sharing deep quotes by ‘poemsporn’ on social media, or uploading vague statuses on Facebook. Depression isn’t a school of thought. It isn’t a philosophy. It isn’t an ideology. Depression is an illness. It is hormonal imbalance, fatal addictions, paralyzing fatigue and something romance cannot heal, irrespective of what contemporary young adult novels may teach you.
OCD is not getting ‘Monica Geller’ on a F.R.I.E.N.D.S character quiz. It is not posting pictures of your arranged work desk on Snapchat, or Googling ‘organization porn’. It’s NOT being overloaded by wanting to ‘feel organized’ and wanting everything in a clean state. OCD is constantly intrusive thoughts to the point of madness. OCD is feeling completely helpless in the face of illogical impulses, and not being able to control your own actions.
Did you know that insomnia can kill you? Or the long term effects of anorexia nervosa? Or the fact that you don’t, in fact, have OCD because a Buzzfeed quiz said so?
Stop glorifying mental illness. The brain is the most important organ of our body. And conditions like depression, anxiety, OCD and many others may be cool things you love sharing memes about, but next time, do remember that mental illness is a legitimate issue that claims more than 8 million lives all over the world every year.