Several nights ago, I was lying on my bed wondering why I couldn’t let go of my apprehensions of the unknown leave me alone even when everything falls in its right place. Why of all people, must I be stuck in a rut of gnawing anxiety that takes away my ability to just enjoy a moment as it is? Why do I have to settle for small bouts of joy instead of a lasting happiness? I can trace back some years through these nights. I remember sitting with my best friend, in high school telling her that I don’t feel good but I can’t figure out why it is so. After all these years, I still don’t know why I feel this way.
Just a generation back, any mental disturbances would be termed as madness. There was no world willing to accept the psychological woes of a person without labelling them. In the first place, no one had the nerve to acknowledge such an ailment or even step inside the therapist’s room. Things have changed today. People are more accepting of mental illness. The stigmas surrounding mental illness are being shattered apart by the ones who broke their silence around the glass walls.
Slowly, people have started telling their stories of coping with anxiety and depression. To add to it, strong movements by celebrities and NGOs alike, have brought attention to the very ailments that were once brushed under the carpet.
The flipside to this culture however is more than what we bargained for.
“I am feeling so depressed that I didn’t get straight As this semester.”
“I am so depressed, I need a decent vacation.”
All of a sudden, the term ‘sadness’ has been replaced by ‘depression’. People don’t get sad these days, they get depressed. Depression and anxiety has been worn out by the social media folk to such extent that they are reduced to a joke. Every time that I have tried to open up about my anxiety, which has been a loyal companion since high school, I got the response of pure apathy or that they too have it. “Haan re, mera bhi bahut anxiety hota hai. Chill kar!”
The social media exploitation of such sensitive issues through baseless memes and posts is evident in our generation.
We romanticise mental illness to the extent that we play with ideas like madness is pure genius and depression and sociopathy makes the best artists. We question our own grasp of life if we haven’t had a severe mental breakdown. We have exploited it to such an extent, that there is an air of nonchalance around it. I come across posts of suicide, panic attacks and abandonment issues as if being so indifferent to yourself that you’d kill yourself is a joke.
Depression, anxiety, body image issues, suicide are not common terminology and it’s time we stopped trivializing them.
We don’t joke about physical ailments; we don’t treat it with apathy or glorify it. Then why must we treat of an illness with little or no physical manifestation, but in all probability, equally difficult. Maybe, it’s about time, we give mental illness its own due, no different from how we would see any other sickness. It’s about time we stop the craze around it. It isn’t heroic to not being able to make peace with the demons inside the mind, it’s tragic and eats you up from the inside. And trust me, there’s nothing poetic about that.