If anxiety was trendy, why don’t people understand it? If it’s cool to sit at work and watch your thoughts run away from you, or barely bring ourselves to get up for work in the first place, why are people so entitled to change the subject (or worse, not talk at all) when you speak on that black cloud that’s always above your head? Why did it become a fad to self-diagnose very real disorders that very real people deal with every day?
I want to make it clear that I am speaking on behalf of everyone with a mental illness that has a stigma attached to it. I’m speaking on behalf of those with medical records in a psychiatric center or documentation of a diagnosis from a psychologist for manic depression, acute anxiety, borderline-personality disorder, and on behalf of the mother who gave birth to her baby and cried for 3 weeks straight, to find out on their first month check up, that she scored high enough on that survey to go see a doctor that specializes in postpartum depression. I am not speaking on behalf of the people who have a bad day and then label themselves depressed. I am not speaking on behalf of the people who have a tidy home and call themselves OCD; because chances are, you don’t count the shelves twice or turn the lamp on and off and on and off…
And on. And off again. Count to 12. That’s 13, that’s bad luck, start over. You need an even number. On, off, on, off, on off… and then you try not to scream because you’re so fucking frustrated that it still doesn’t feel right and you just wish this would go away and you didn’t have to the lock the door 7 times before leaving the house or count the cracks in the sidewalks when you finally manage to get outside.
Our world is torn between shunning those who have a mental illness, and dressing up our personalities with a diagnosis we know little to nothing about.
I know way too many people prescribed Xanax and take it everyday and prescribed a serotonin inhibitor and take it three times a week and wonder why they’re so miserable. I encourage them to know more about their diagnosis, and even more about how these medications work.
I also know way too many people that complain about how bad their anxiety is but can’t tell me what’s life to have your chest hurt and your mind go blank and sit in the last stall and cry because you lost your shit in the middle of the work day, for no reason other than your dad wouldn’t text you back.
Car accident, he’s disappointed, your sister got hurt, grandma or grandpa died, he’s tired of you living at home and he will probably tell you it’s time to leave when you get there.
I’m not here to denounce anyone who talks about their issues. I’m just here to stand up for those of us who don’t- because it isn’t that easy. Maybe I’m here to tell people to stop throwing around words like anxiety and depression and wearing them as an accessory. I just want to know when this became glamorous. I want to applaud the person prescribed Xanax that takes it when they know they’re about to lose it.
And then doesn’t touch it again until the next time they are in a crowd of people and feels like every single person is looking at them the wrong way.
I want to talk to the person who offers their’s to the recovering addict who “needs it to feel better” but refuses to see a doctor. I want to ask them why, and I want to tell them to stop.
But you can’t affect free will.
I’ve had the same people who scoffed at my suicide attempt tweet things like “I hate dealing with anxiety.” Maybe a selfie with the caption “Anxiety sucks.” I can’t understand the point of making fun of me for my struggles and then broadcasting your own in a completely unrelated picture. You’re smiling, you’re laughing, you felt good about yourself today, and you probably only took that picture one time before you decided it was worthy enough for social media.
This is where it becomes unfair for people to throw these things around. Anxiety and depression are everything but confident. Well maybe not all. Sometimes being manic depressive is a little different. Maybe one day, you feel like you’re Beyonce and the next day, you are on the verge of tears with shaking hands wondering why you aren’t good enough and no one wants to be your friend. Instead of taking a picture in the mirror, you’re standing in front of it wondering if anyone would like you better if you cut your hair, or lost weight, or didn’t talk as much or talked even more because at least you’d know how to carry on a conversation.
Mental illness doesn’t need to be worn like this season’s jeans. Mental illness is not an eyeshadow you put on every single day but don’t wear on others. Mental illness is not the lipstick you put on when it’s Saturday and need an excuse to drink excessively. You don’t wake up and decide you have acute anxiety or OCD or bipolar disorder. You wake up and you put your feet on the floor, take your medicine and you pray to God you have a good day today.
And then, you grab your purse, put on your lipstick and pray even harder that today, the workings of your mind won’t take you away from yourself. You pray that today, you can smile without having to cry.