February 26, 2023
I have generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Jealousy?
I’ve dealt with generalized anxiety disorder my entire life. I remember being at school in first grade and crying to the point where my tear glands dried up because I was afraid my parents were dying.
At the time, I felt abnormal and was treated as such. Fears that were very real to me were chased away by adults who told me to be stronger or tougher. I don’t think I heard the term “anxiety disorder” until I was 11 years old, to which I replied, “I think I have it.”
Since then, the public has started to take mental health much more seriously. People see mental illness as a real illness and it is much less stigmatized than it used to be.
This new-school view of psychological well-being has encouraged more people to talk about how mental illness affects them.
Celebrities are more open than ever about their mental health struggles, and every time a new celebrity speaks out about their issues, they’re praised for their bravery.
But I can’t help feeling that mental illness is sometimes glorified and that having some kind of psychological illness is suddenly cool or in fashion.
It’s not like the glorification of mental illness is new. For years we’ve seen TV tropes like the detective wiOCD or something like autism that gives you an uncanny ability to solve crimes.
I’m not innocent in all of this. When I, a musician, first learned about the mental anguish that some of my favorite musical artists have gone through, there was a real part of me that stupidly thought, “I wish my mental health was worse so I could create art this good. how many of them.”
Very unhealthy, yes?
Social media platforms like TikTok are full of videos containing grossly simplified representations of mental illness who carries a tone from, “Look at me with my anxiety, am I not so quirky and relatable? I’m just like you.”
Mental illness is not a personality quirk. It’s a danger that gets in the way of self-improvement, career aspirations, personal relationships, overall happiness, and the ability to get through the day. So when people play off their psychological conflict for their own personal gain, it seems to invalidate those of us who have to deal with it every day.
Because of my OCD, I sometimes find it mentally exhausting to perform a task without repeating certain actions.
I retyped letters over and over again just writing this piece. I made intentional grammatical mistakes that I have to go back and correct later. This is because the anxious part of my mind has convinced me that if I put a dash where there should be a dash, something terrible will happen to me that will alter the course of my life forever.
I know thoughts like that are not true. The use of a hyphen has no effect on whether I will be in a car accident that disfigures my face. But if I go against the urge, apprehension sets in.
So when people come limping in, flaunting their self-diagnosed mental illness for interesting points, it can be a little frustrating.
For some people, it’s not enough just to feel sad or anxious, which are perfectly normal human emotions. It must be something more dire, like depression or an anxiety disorder.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about mental illness. We absolutely should. Let’s even play with it. But while we’re at it, let’s make sure we don’t glorify him.
Columns reflect the views of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.