United Kingdom

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~Mental health
~The supernatural

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~Reading and writing

Stop glamourising mental illness.

March 19, 2018

In the past the label ‘mentally ill’ was highly stigmatized, carrying with it disturbing images of dangerous lunatics, criminals and demonic possession. Thankfully, we no longer cart those struggling with poor mental health off to asylums to undergo exorcisms and experimental surgery. In fact, the pendulum seems to have swung from fearing mental illness to glorifying it. With social media, television and newspapers all beautifying brain disorders, diseases such as depression, anxiety and anorexia have become trendy; in fact, according to the Mirror Magazine ‘an alarming 34% admitted lying about having a mental illness in the past’ highlighting the beautified fashion in which mental illnesses are portrayed.

But before I begin, you’ll probably want to refresh your instagram feed. After all, it must have been a whole 4 minutes since you last checked. See photo upon photo of ever-growing thigh gaps paraded beneath asos mini skirts, of slender fingers wrapped around diet cokes and brandishing cigarettes, of jutting collarbones painted with glitter. Sit longingly before the screen- your maltesers melting in their half open packet- wishing that you had ‘enough self control to be anorexic.’ Pining to be mysterious, haunted and fascinating like the thinspirations in front of you; enchanting girls staring off into the distance, putting psychological torment and beauty on the same page. 

Well listen up. An eating disorder isn’t a super cool and exclusive badge to be flaunted competitively. It's pale skin, mottled and icy and grey, faded like an unloved toy. It’s crying and convulsing so hard that you can’t keep down the 5000th calorie. Bile blistering your oesophagus, grating against your rusted teeth. Laxative after laxative, hair tossed in toilet bowls, bodies quivering spasmodically in a bid to complete just ‘one more’ sit up. Please, please realise that anorexia isn’t rib cages and fluttering heart beats. Bulimia isn’t a superficial desire to be model thin. EDNOS isn't the fashion of a vain generation. It is freezing and fainting and cardiac arrests. Pained individuals starving themselves into particles of dust, leaving holes in our ozone and families torn apart.Your eating disorder isn’t on your side. It’s trying to kill you.

So the thinspiration account has stopped posting on instagram, after all, phones aren't allowed on inpatient wards. But when he’s discharged, if he’s discharged, you’ll probably see the updated ‘ipx7’ in his bio. No matter, just open tumblr instead. Stare at the melancholic quotes- ‘I wish I could just disappear’- trying to convince yourself that they apply to you. Aspiring to be depressed, because the Lisbon sisters made depression aloof and seductive. Because according to tumblr depression is a pale girl drawn in charcoal (eyeliner perfectly smudged down the crevasse of her jutting cheekbone) curled elegantly beneath a fairytale tree. 

No. It isn't. Wake up, I implore you. Depression is a disease. An insidious, excruciating and all-consuming disease. It’s  losing days, weeks, months to a heavy haze of darkness, floating miserably in the abyss of your hope deprived brain, filling the void with sex and drugs and food. It’s days spent under corpse stained duvets, overwhelmed by the stench of rotting flesh and unbrushed teeth. It’s bruised sorrow hanging in bags beneath your eyes and pain sculpted into you frown lines. So destroy the whimsical tumblr portrayal in your head; depression isn't a necklace to be worn around your neck like a medal. No, it's a noose: suffocating and deadly. Because depression is a dangerous illness, and should be treated accordingly.

Goodness! Is that the time? Looks like you’ve fallen into Blue Light’s trance. How the innocent minutes grow into hours… Well, with so much time already wasted, checking twitter can't hurt- can it? Wrong. Feel your fingers writhe and itch, desperate to type in #selfharm for new tips. After all, self harm is an expression of creative genius… Haven't you heard? Ask twitter, she’ll tell you: it’s tattoos and plasters modelled like fashion accessories, black and white photos of scabs lining wrists, exposing secrets and fortunes like skin enclosed gifts. Of course, mutilating your own body is exciting, romantic and even trendy... Perhaps that’s why in 2015 18,778 children aged 11-18 were hospitalised for self harm?

Perhaps not. Pause for a minute and listen. Listen to Reality, who makes you feel uncomfortable, but is speaking the truth when she says that self harm is swallowed secrets and unshed tears, scarred limbs itching in excruciating silence. It is trauma and tendons and tissues exposed and harrowing memories hidden by all-covering clothes. I’m begging you to realise that self harm is neither beauty nor glamour nor the artwork of Soul. It is not romance, nor hashtags nor an emo-chick-craze. It is messy, destructive and consuming. Reality repeats: messy and destructive and consuming; your body and head playing Russian roulette on the bloody bathroom floor, while shaking and sweating- convulsing, confused. Then threadbare bandages constricting your blood flow along with the words that you’re too afraid to speak. 

Well, I’m no longer too afraid to speak.

Block that thinspiration account. Turn off your phone. Close your eyes to social media’s lies. Finish your maltesers before they all melt. It is time for everyone to understand, that: starvation isn’t beautiful, the depressed aren’t just sad and self harm isn’t the newest craze. Mental illnesses aren’t adjectives to be thrown around casually, or labels to be advertised on clothes. They most certainly are not edited pictures for mystic appeal. 

So I ask you: why aspire to drown Rainbow’s palette into one, dim, dreary existence? Ideal mental health- a life of vivid colour, zest and exploration- should be what you wholeheartedly desire. I do, therefore, urge you to steer clear of the cocoon of the confused and frightened, taking snippets of lethal advice from each other disguised as support. Because mental illness is ugly and, moreover, in many cases proves fatal: 6,188 suicides were registered in the UK in 2015. 6,188. It is essential that we alter our portrayal of mental disease- unless we want mankind to kill itself into extinction.
glamorizing mental illness



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  • KeaganSoe

    I do largely agree with your thoughts on the glamourization of mental illness; it is truly dangerous. However, there are large numbers of genuine sufferers that benefit from this glamourzation.

    over 2 years ago
  • Clare B

    What you've just written needs to be spread everywhere. You wrote this so well that it will resonate with everyone, whether they have had mental illness or not.

    over 2 years ago
  • Tequilamockingbird22

    I really love this and you. Thank you so much for writing this.

    over 2 years ago
  • Faith Camp

    Thank you for writing this. This message needs to be spread :)

    over 2 years ago
  • .audrey michelle.

    There needs to be more people who write things like this and think the way you do.

    I'm gonna give a shoutout.

    over 2 years ago
  • Kaitlyn ❄

    I love you.

    over 2 years ago