By Katie Kuo
I noticed in the past few months that anxiety has been discussed in the internet world and many people on social media have made it seem like a trend. A part that bothers me is the way that mental illnesses and body disorders are sometimes romanticized. Anxiety is something that many people live with, but when people who have not experienced anxiety or depression post images about it from how they perceive it — that’s the only time that it bothers me. I think that it’s important for those who do have anxiety, to be able to write about it on the internet and to be able to express themselves. It helps to acknowledge it, know that we cannot make anxiety disappear, but we can learn to control and live with it.
There is a difference between writing about something you deeply experience and live with, than writing about something you portray and imagine it to be. I felt it important to write about this, because as someone who suffers anxiety every day, often people can misunderstand what it means to live with it. It is important that as a society and as individuals that we do not romanticize mental illnesses. When I was looking on Pinterest at pictures, I typed anxiety and was unsettled to see images of cutting oneself being romanticized with blood dripping and even flowers and glitters used to decorate. That really saddened me, because it’s a serious thing which points towards suicide and should therefore, not be glamorized.
Dealing with anxiety, causes me to walk most places if I can. Public transport makes me feel uncomfortable, especially standing close next to strangers. I feel nervous and uncomfortable feelings slide through me if I am constantly surrounded by many people, such as the supermarket on a busy day or the 5pm rush hour. Anxiety is what caused me to not have as many intimate friendships and caused me to not enjoy my schooling years so much. Having anxiety can also increase the likelihood of having panic attacks. Panic attacks are no joke. Some people think that panic attacks are when someone is freaking out about something and going “Oh my gosh” with your friends. But that isn’t the case.
Mental illnesses are often romanticized because they are viewed by many people as something that is dramatic. Something that seems so out of the ordinary, that it cannot be understood. This is when we need to realize that they are a reality, not a drama or something otherworldly. Anxiety or depression should never be seen as ‘cool’ or ‘trending’, and it really surprises me that on social media, that is often the case. It’s similar to girls who lie on beds to show how flat their stomachs can go. Not that it’s romanticizing anorexia or being skinny per se, but it’s giving the wrong idea. It is true that mental illnesses are commonly stigmatized. I believe that it just needs to be understood.