Throwing Around Mental Illness
Mental illness is a topic that has differing definitions depending on who you ask—especially on college campuses where it is easy to hear students groan out how depressed, anxious, or stressed they are. Now, this is not a bad thing because these are normal emotions students go through; however, there is a difference between experiencing normal levels of those emotions compared to those who deal with mental illness daily.
Speaking from personal experience, whenever I hear people throw around how much anxiety they have or that they are “literally” having a panic as they stand perfectly still or glancing down on their phone, it is a bit frustrating.
I know all experiences are different and some people who struggle with mental illness can be more open about it than others. Personally, I hate talking about my anxiety but can make light of my depression. However, because depression has become diluted in terms of how serious it can be, mainly because of social media influence, I feel it has almost become cool or simply relatable to say how depressed one is. At times, I fall victim to that and have overly announced, “Oh my gosh, I am so depressed.”
When it comes to my struggle with anxiety and dealing with panic attacks, that is a whole other conversation. Even now as I write this, I find myself slightly unwilling to go in-depth or really breakdown why I struggle with it.
However, with that being said, I’ve been on the end of both spectrums of going through a panic attack. There have been times I have helped aid a friend when they had an episode and there was a certain point where I was turned down when I had an episode. Whatever the situation, casually making light of having a panic attack is not cute or quirky; it’s perhaps one of the most frustrating things to feel.
In no way is this meant to come off as being too sensitive or politically correct, it is more so a call of attention to understanding the difference between those who are having a stressful or sad day and not making it out to be a disorder or something they struggle with on the daily. It should also be noted that while the casualness of bringing up mental illnesses and health have brought less of a negative stigma, it is still a conversation that needs to become more normalized.
Normalization should not be the dilution of what mental illness is. When I hear people, both in my everyday life and those online, make the claim that they are having a panic attack or feel so much anxiety, it is conflicting. I don’t want to assume nor belittle what they are feeling, but, at the same time, it’s not something to be thrown around casually. At the end of the day, anyone can feel levels of anxiety, but that doesn’t mean it is an all-access pass to claiming this struggle and making light of it.
In the end, all that can be asked is for respect and understanding of what the struggle of dealing with a mental illness is like. As to those who throw around mental illnesses carelessly, be a bit more mindful of it. What comes off as sincerity to you can actually be insulting to those of us who struggle daily.