The glamorisation of mental illness and ‘mental health merch’

“Anyone who has actually been that sad can tell you that there’s nothing beautiful or literary or mysterious about depression”— Jasmine Warga

Suffering from a mental illness is not trendy. Nor is it glamorous. It doesn’t make you seem more edgy or sexy.

More and more, we are seeing mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, O.C.D., bi-polar disorder (but to name a few) being glamorised by, well, everyone. Bloggers, mainstream news, literature… it’s everywhere.

Tumblr is particularly bad for this, as people constantly re-blog quotes such as the following:

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Some people turn to these ‘depression’ blogs as they may feel that they identify with the posts, or see their own inner turmoil reflected in the content of the blog.

I totally agree that depression is not a sign of weakness, however you’re not depressed because you’ve been strong for too long. You’re depressed due to a chemical imbalance in your brain.

Let’s get something straight:

Depression and sucidal thoughts are not glamorous.

Having depression doesn’t turn you into some dark, mysterious and sexy character. You’re not some ‘fallen hero’, as that would imply that your depression has won, but that’s just not true.

Depression is a serious mental illness – not an accessory that you can merely cast aside. Depression is not artsy. Depression is not desirable.

Disturbingly, there has been a growing trend of ‘mental health merchandise’. This includes tops, bags, necklaces amongst other things that make light of mental illnesses.

You can own a tshirt that has Kurt Cobain’s suicide letter printed on it. No, I’m not joking. I wish I was.

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The tshirt pictured below insinuates that people with bi-polar disorder are assholes.

Well, at least they got one thing right when they say ‘turns out I’m just an asshole’, because if you’re the type of person to wear a tshirt like this and homogenize such a complex condition then you probably are, as you say, an asshole.

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Yep, definitely an asshole

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Similarly with this necklace – why would someone with social anxiety draw attention to it to the fact that they have social anxiety? Social anxiety is not “feeling a little bit shy”. It’s debilitating.

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Stop glorifying something that people struggle with every day. Stop it – because by buying into such narratives you’re part of the problem.

This is perpetuating and maintaining the stigma around mental illnesses by making light of them – that depression is merely the slump you feel after missing your morning cup of coffee. That O.C.D. is just that feeling you get when you want to tidy your room. That anxiety is a few butterflies in your stomach.

Depression is not being able to get out of bed in the morning – feeling worthless and as though you have a lead weight constantly attached to you. Anxiety is the feeling of pure dread, breathlessness, shakiness and the sense that your world is falling down around you. O.C.D. is alighning the rug in the sitting room perfectly, and then checking it 50 more times. These things really affect people’s lives – so to trivialise it is downright insulting to people who struggle with these mental illnesses.

Do people trivialise cancer, or heart diseases, or anything else physical? Do people say ‘you’re being dramatic, your cancer will get better if you’d just be more positive’. But if someone has depression, it’s a completely different story. This needs to change.

We need to unite together and stop trivialising these things. Because your feelings are not trivial – they’re important.

 

 

If you’d like to have a chat please don’t be shy! You know where to find me.

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