"Without pain, there would be no suffering, without suffering we would never learn from our mistakes. To make it right, pain and suffering is the key to all windows, without it, there is no way of life." said some person who probably thinks that mental illnesses and struggles are "tragically beautiful."
Mental health and the stigma around it has often been discussed around the internet and all for good reason. But with everything good comes the absolutely terrible. And that is the hoards of "deep" or "beautiful" quotes and philosophies on Tumblr and Instagram. Basically, self proclaimed philosophers who romanticize the shit out of mental illness.
Here's an actual quote from Tumblr - "Imagine Death. No people, no feelings, only a peaceful dark world." Okay, maa'm. No. That's not how things work. While she typed this out google probably prompted - did you mean: romanticize depression?
I get that the intention may have just been to paint an edgy picture to impress the entire website - but mental illness isn't really something to impress people with. You could paint, write or sing and people would be more impressed - so try that next time maybe?
The Worst Thing I Saw On The Internet
I remember the worst thing I ever saw on the internet a few months ago. There was a clip from Teen Wolf going around Instagram - where Stiles has a panic attack. In the middle of which he says "I'm think I'm having a panic attack", just by the way. But what really drove me nuts was that his friend/ maybe crush couldn't really help him out of it, so she kisses him.
She kisses the dude out of a panic attack. He is fine after that kiss. He forgets he even had a panic attack maybe? I mean, where is the logic, writers? I absolutely lost my shit at that scene. If someone ever kissed me while I had a panic attack - I'd probably die, because I literally can't breathe.
That's just how panic attacks work - sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, a choking sensation, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, fear of losing your mind, fear of dying, feeling hot or cold, numbness or tingling, or heart palpitations. How do you kiss someone in the middle of all this and how do they feel better?
But media isn't new to all this crazy romanticization. They make "damaged" characters who need "fixing" the standard of ideal men or women and apparently it's all okay. Remember Tamasha? Where Ved clearly had some mental issues to work through? But Tara wants to fix him and fix his self image issues?
Or in Psycho where the entire movie ignores what's actually happening to Norman bates and then at the end for the sake of science they add - “When the mind houses two personalities, there is always a battle. In Norman’s case, the battle is over and the dominant personality has won.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, this movie also introduced the word “psycho” into the popular vocabulary, contributing greatly to the stigma that surrounds real world mental health disorders.
So, singling out just one aspect of a mental illness and making it sound flower-y is just the worst way to reach out or start a conversation.
So Why Are People Doing It In The First Place?
Somewhere in the misunderstood communication channel of social media everyone suddenly just assumed that depression, anxiety and mental illness in general are "cool." It came out of nowhere, but one fine morning the whole world was comparing who feels worse than the other. And it became an unsaid competition.
"I only slept for 4 hours last night, I'm so tired." followed by another person quickly jumping in - "Dude, 4 hours is a lot, I just slept for an hour. I'm literally dying." When did comparing unhealthy habits become a trendy thing?
Also to the person that started "thinspo" - stop adding pictures of people with eating disorders to that Pinterest board. Seriously, just stop it. Shame on you. Eating disorders are not an inspiration for anybody - it's a physical and mental issue that needs proper care. So stop selling anorexia to your viewers and make it seem normal and fun.
"I haven't eaten since yesterday night, you know? And I skipped breakfast because my life is so happening." GO GET A SNACK, YOU SMART CHILD. Gorge a whole meal, why are you starving yourself? There's nothing fun or even moderately cool about it - who are you trying to please?
I think though, one of the main areas from where all this romanticisation seeped through is art. Don't shame me for telling you the truth. Art has always been associated with romanticization and it was okay till everyone suddenly started calling Van Gogh a deeply tragic but beautiful artist. Or when people claimed that him drinking yellow paint to feel happy was "cute."
I'm sure if I drank paint of any sort, I'd just be on the pot for days, nothing cute about it. Especially when you find out that Van Gogh probably had Borderline Personality Disorder and definitely had depression.
And the idea that people with mental illnesses make better art? All in your head. It's isn't true. Art may act as therapy for a lot of people, sure, but it has nothing to do with creativity or enhancing their skills and talent. Van Gogh himself wrote in one of his last letters, “Oh, if I could have worked without this accursed disease – what things I might have done.” So no, mental illness isn't going to give you the artistic skills you never had.
Here's another absolutely garbage quote from Tumblr - " I think suicidal people are just angels who want to go home." Please see yourself out, maa'm. I don't think I've read something worse than this. Honestly? All I see is you making suicide sound like a graceful and glorified action someone should take.
It's the last thing you should want anyone to do. So why make it sound so pretty and mighty? Just behave like humans and show compassion instead, it'll probably help more than calling someone an angel.
So basically, step out of Instagram and Tumblr and actually think about how mental illness is an actual problem for people not just a trend they have to keep up with.