Remember when you were younger, and your friend broke his/her (insert limb here)? Remember all the attention they got, and how many people wanted to sign their cast or carry their backpack? Also, remember that really demented part of you who kind of wanted to break a bone just to get a cast for people to sign, and for someone to offer to carry your backpack?
Maybe that was just me, but I’m pretty sure there was a “Wonder Years” episode or something that affirmed my feelings about this enough that I thought everyone thought like this at a young age.
Anyway, I feel like there’s a feeling similar to this going around with my peers regarding mental disorders. I’m talking about disorders like anxiety, OCD, depression, etc.
These disorders are talked about a lot (see posts like this and this), which is fantastic, because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be educated and talking about them, and hopefully this leads to us talking about more taboo illnesses and what we as a community can do to help those suffering with them.
However, I don’t think posts like those I linked to above have been doing a very good job of expressing just how serious these disorders, which have become so mainstream in our vocabulary (“I have really bad anxiety today,” or “He’s so OCD about this.”) really are. They’ve become a topic we as a society are getting comfortable with talking about, which both comforts me and scares me at the same time.
It comforts and scares me because I was recently diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder.
Anxiety wasn’t a surprise to me. Ask my fiance. I’d been sending him links for months, saying, “No, really, I think I have this.” I was half-serious, thinking I was just a tense and easily stressed person. Everyone has their quirks and pet peeves.
But when your boss suggests you talk to someone, and your counselor diagnoses you, and you realize there’s a reason you don’t sleep, and you realize there’s a reason you want to hurt yourself… things get real. Fast.
So it’s comforting to see posts I can relate to, and it’s comforting not to feel alone. But it’s terrifying to think there are people out there who don’t have the illnesses they’re claiming, when I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. And it’s terrifying to think there are people who have these illnesses, but aren’t doing anything about it.
Now, I don’t know you. I don’t know your life. No one’s saying you have something that you don’t, but if you think you do, do something about it. Because here’s the thing – actually having a disorder and going through the steps to help it is f**king lonely, and it’s scary. It’s not a trendy topic to ogle. Don’t let yourself feel that way, because there are a ton of people in the same position as you.
It’s not easy or fun to talk about, but if we start recognizing these illnesses and disorders as something serious, we can start doing something about them. Honesty’s the best policy, as usual, and ignoring these conditions, as with anything, is the most damaging thing you can do to yourself and others.