Warning, the image above was used ironically. It's the perfect example of this "Tumblr culture" that is glamourising mental illness.
"Cute but psycho, but cute". Sorry to be blunt, but there's nothing cute about being a psychopath. The dictionary definition of this is "a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behaviour". It's an illness, and not one that should be glorified or turned into a slogan.
It's a debate we've all heard before- the extent to which words like anxiety, OCD and depression have become trivialised. We're all guilty of misusing these terms, claiming "this weather is making me depressed" or quips of a similar nature. Ignorance is excusable to an extent, but most people know better than this. We know mental illness is serious, we know it affects 1 in 3 people and that suicide is the biggest cause of death for men between 20 and 49.
These kind of statistics have been increasingly promoted and shared in the media, thanks to the work of brilliant charities who are pushing for them to become common knowledge. But we are all still colloquially using terms that shouldn't be thrown around. You don't hear people compare a cold to cancer, just as we shouldn't compare being sad to being depressed. One is chronic and often terminal, there is a difference and it's insensitive to not recognise this.
It's a difficult subject, because most people don't mean it maliciously when they compare their trivial daily problems to mental illnesses, but it still needs to be challenged. Why? Because saying "I'm so depressed" when you mean sad isn't dangerous, it's ignorant and offensive, but not dangerous per say. What is dangerous is this teen culture emerging where young people think things like self-harm are cool. The fact that they are glamourising depression as something romantic or poetic on sites like Tumblr is worrying, and older generations should be concerned.
A perfect example of this glamorisation is the widespread reaction of teenagers to the film Suicide Squad. A quick look on Tumblr or weheartit and the feed is flooded with images of Harley Quinn and the Joker. Quotes like "she wouldn't die for him, that was too easy. Instead she was willing to live through the misery life brings, all for him" and others are extremely popular. The film is at no fault for this, because after seeing it I don't think it was glamourising mental health- quite the opposite. But the reaction to it is worrying.
That quote is not a love young people should be aspiring to experience, its purpose is to show what an abusive relationship looks like. But society's constant trivialisation of mental illness has meant that younger generations aren't equipped to properly distinguish between what is healthy and what isn't. How can we blame them? How are they realistically going to be able to identify anxiety from nerves when the adults around them constantly confuse the two. How are they going to distinguish between a healthy relationship and an abusive one if they think being "psycho" is "cute"?
We all need to make a conscious effort to, firstly, challenge the way we use mental illnesses as descriptive terms, and secondly to educate ourselves so that we can educate the younger generations over the realities of mental illness.
If you feel like you need support, or to find out more about mental health, visit Mind.org for information.
Photo Credit: Tumblr
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