When reading Alexis Caputo’s “9 Signs Your Mental Illness Is Made Up For Attention”, it really hit me just how ignorant some people can be. I can be a bit naïve at times, and try to see the good in people rather than their flaws; however I have no inclination to see a positive side of this article. Or if I tried to, it would be to show people what not to say. No one should be made to feel inferior for having an illness.
Mental illness has so many varying diagnoses, that everyone has little traits of everything. People have wavering degrees of severity in their health, and what one person can endure; another person might not have the same characteristics to withstand it. It is such a complex illness. Two people could have the same condition yet present in different ways. I have had a diagnosis of treatment resistant depression, and generalized anxiety for five years. I am 20 years old and the two have completely dictated my life. I already give myself enough negativity for other people to try and pull me down more. This obliviousness makes me mad and I want to pull out some of their points and demonstrate that attention seeking is not a symptom of a mental illness.
1. “You use it to be an asshole to other people.”
Being an asshole is not a symptom of mental illness. And why would someone be an asshole to gain attention? The assholes are those who do not care to educate themselves and demean those who are unwell. Symptoms of depression and OCD and anxiety and bipolar can be debilitating, so if someone doesn’t reply to your message because their mind won’t allow them, it is not something to be offended about. If someone snaps at you, it isn’t directly to you — it is a frustration of being caught up in your mind, and outside stressors can sometimes be too overwhelming. And not being a part of social gatherings is an obvious sign that an individual is struggling, preferring solitude rather than having to put of a façade of happiness.
2. “You are constantly sharing shit about it on social media.”
Every now and then I may post an article or YouTube video on my social networking sites relevant to mental illness. The pieces I choose to share are ones that I can relate to, and by putting them up on my social media sites, I hope to enlighten other people on the struggles that is mental health. My mind is often slow, and I find it hard to talk, so at times, articles and videos I find can express my thoughts and feelings that otherwise remain cooped up. I constantly have to tell myself that I should not be ashamed for being depressed and I think if I do raise a bit of awareness to my situation, then I will no longer carry the burden of quiet.
3. “Your definitions of illness change all the time and when it’s convenient, your illness takes a back seat.”
Like with any illness, mental health conditions severity can fluctuate. There can be bouts where some days are more manageable to get through, and an individual can be a functional member of society. It’s what we all aim for: to maintain a level where we can get out of bed and face the day. But it isn’t the reality of the situation all the time; getting dressed might be the biggest achievement someone gets. It does not make them attention seeking- it is a symptom of an illness.
4. “You think it’s “controversial” to talk about.”
It is a controversial topic: the article is a prime example. I wouldn’t be writing about it if it weren’t. Not everyone understands mental illness. There is still a stigma around, with even medical professionals not being compassionate. It’s a hard illness to grasp because it’s not something you can analyze with a blood test and it takes time to be fully diagnosed.
5. “You constantly post baiting things so that people will ask what’s wrong.”
It’s not something I have posted, but I can understand the reasoning as to why people do. People are afraid to say they are struggling outright, so it can be easier to try and get someone to ask them. It isn’t attention seeking. It is rare for people to fake a mental health condition, and if they do, then there is still something wrong with them for them to have to change their entire sense of self. It is brave to admit you’re sad, or depressed or that you’re obsessive tendencies become too much. It is a good step to admitting that something is wrong and to try and get help. There is nothing wrong with reaching out.
6. “You’re not really trying to get better.”
It makes me squirm when someone accuses another of not trying to get better. Hopelessness and refusing treatment is so common in mental illnesses. It is so hard to commit to recovering every single day when your mind is awfully unkind. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to get better; they just might not have it in them. Fighting the thoughts every day is so unbelievably exhausting. It is a chemical imbalance, and it is complicated. It’s not fun or amusing being consumed in your head.
Mental illness is uncomfortable and challenging and intolerable. No one wants to be that way. But you have to remember that someone with a mental illness is not their disorder. I have to remember that I am not my disorder. I am 20 years old. I am caring, and loyal, artistic and creative. Depression and anxiety do not define me, and raising awareness to my illnesses helps people understand why I act the way I do. If I wash my hair, I have to acknowledge that I did a good thing for the day, and if I left the house — even better. Even writing this article is a major thing for me, having not had much energy the past few days to do anything more than knit or stare at a television screen. You wouldn’t get annoyed with someone missing out on a lunch, or posting photos, statuses and articles on cancer journeys, or heart disease. Mental illnesses should be expressed just as equally. It should not continue to be mocked or silenced.