Mental Illness is not romantic: Stop the trend

Images in black and white, depicting shadows of loneliness and sorrow. A somber figure appears with its head, looking lost on the horizon of uncertainty. That picture of emptiness is a faithful representation of the symptoms of depression; it helps many to convey the message that most of the times gets lost in this virtual era of ours. While this image get somewhat the point across, is not a painting of the landscape and meaning of living with a mental disorder.

There is something wrong when depression is depicted in a dark corner without air and a helping hand. Most of the time depression hides behind a smile, a day with the family, a picnic, etc… As any other illness, it affects the brain and emotional being without warning not caring about companionships, places, circumstances, etc… I’m quite good at it, smiling and hiding behind my makeup, forcing myself to mingle and try very hard not to show any signs of depression. I agree, depression is a persistent, engulfing darkness, but is also a persistent hallucination of a sunny day in a field full of flowers.

Mental Illness, more than ever, deserves respect due to its devastating results if not treated daily. With such a statement, then I pondered with the following question: Why is depression treated as a form of fraternized with originality, like a trend? Studies have shown a link between mental illness and creativity. While such discoveries confirm our guesses, it doesn’t signify any type of solution or magic eraser from fighting with symptoms of depression. Being “crazy” a term people incorrectly use to define depression, is not funny or romantic, it doesn’t help you to become an explosion of ideas and write the next “Bell Jar” or paint “The Starry Night.” Those are coping mechanisms which help many people to find solace during a bad episode. This is not what it makes a person, it’s what they do. Sylvia Plath wrote one of the most inspiring and heartbreaking poems, one could ever read. It is hard to picture her describing how “crazy” she felt when she wrote “Lady Lazarus”. It can’t be denied there is a side of depression where awareness and a hint of the innovation kind of evolves itself constantly. Such burst of spontaneity that don’t last long. Suffering from mental illness is a serious condition that it drains energy, brings isolation and loneliness. Did Vincent Van Gogh felt the same when he painted “The Sower“? As research has proven, these talented people suffered until the end of their days but they never committed the mistake of romanticized the illness they suffered from. They romanticized their view of the world around them, the glory and failures of the human being in their own way.

This is the mistake a lot of mental advocates do; thinking a diagnosis is going to show them the secrets of the mind and life in general. If this hidden talent doesn’t show after a medical diagnosis, a sense of failure becomes visible because supposedly “craziness” brings those gifts to you. A dear friend of mine shared a post she found offensive, rightly so. This man had claimed, (In what he expected to be a satire) how being “crazy” had helped to burst his writing on a lonely night. He described an episode of mania so accurately, it took me a few minutes to question whether he thought this is worth to laugh at. I shared my opinion with my friend and we both agreed how uneducated his essay was.

Just because we have the freedom to express our ideas by different mediums, is not a synonym for irresponsible writing. Research and empathy are a must, especially in the mental health community. Personally, I do not enjoy depression in any way; I’ve suffered from hallucinations and hearing voices for a couple of weeks now and it torments me every day, it drains my energy and my anxiety kicks in feeling so spacey and out of control. It’s unreasonable to romanticize the idea of depression or desperation. That root of thinking in my opinion is “Victimizing” and wanting to commiserate for some sort of attention. In an era where information shines before our eyes 24/7 it is often mishandled opening a window for incomprehension and ignorance. It is time to change the way mental illness is portrayed in this world; Are we responsible enough to carry our ideas in a place where people employ the tools of mockery and throws it at us? Go ahead, I’m one of those who is ready to fight back with knowledge.


7 thoughts on “Mental Illness is not romantic: Stop the trend

  1. “Most of the time depression hides behind a smile, a day with the family, a picnic, etc…”

    I used to think of it as “putting on a mask” before I’d go to work in the morning. No one at my place of employment knew what was going on behind my mask until I had a psychotic break and couldn’t hide it anymore. No romance there…

    Good post.

    1. Thank you for commenting Jim. I’ve had the same experience at work also. It got the point I could not longer hide it and had to be hospitalized for a week. Hope you’re doing better now, hang in there!

  2. Thanks! I’m doing well now, of course my career pretty much ended and I wound up on disability, but my wife and I started raising foster and adoptive kids, and I’m going to school to start over in another field. The break was 12 years ago and did indeed lead to a long hospitalization. It also led to me being a mental health advocate, so in many ways I’m better off now.

  3. You describe depression so well, Stephanie. When I was very young, I remember someone telling me that creativity and “insanity” were basically the same thing. So I grew up believing that mental illness was glamorous. Wow, did I ever learn otherwise.

    1. I remember my friends during my teenage years talking about depression as a source of inspiration; now you see the “emo” kids everywhere. It’s dangerous for our kids to grow up thinking depression makes you deeper when in reality it’s a never ending nightmare.

  4. I first saw people portraying mental illness in a glamorous way when I was researching bipolar after my son’s diagnosis, a year before mine. I saw myself in what I was reading, but thought that maybe I was falling for the glamour that I had been seeing people portray, and which I rejected. Because of this, I didn’t seek out help for a year, until my employer sent me to the mental health center. Sort of ironic.

    1. Indeed, it is ironic, and most of us have fallen under this contradiction many times because life is full of triggers and stress making it hard to determine whether someone is suffering from mental illness or not. I am glad you were able to find the help you needed. xx

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