There is a proliferation of mental health discussion across social media platforms, and it’s about time.
I always wanted a chartreuse cast for my friends to sign in elementary school. I wish I could attribute my injury free adolescence to my overwhelming sense of poise, but truthfully, I was just not active enough to break anything.
In recent months, I hurt my knee training for a marathon and was put on crutches for a few weeks. I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed to talk about how I’d sustained my injury, just disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to run in the marathon for which I’d been training and fundraising for the past 8 months.
There is still such a stigma attached to people suffering with mental illness, namely the 5 million college students who are battling some form of anxiety or depression. I think this taboo stems from the media portrayal of the mentally ill as people in straight-jackets in rooms with padded walls, a crazy person on the brink of coming unhinged, or a serial killer. Soldiers aren’t awarded purple hearts for returning home with debilitating PTSD.
I’m noticing a trend in social media memes and gifs that humanizes some of the things that you can’t wrap up in bandages and adorn in ‘get well’ signatures. The Knocks, my very favorite DJs, released a music video for their song ‘Trouble’ that depicts a grown man suffering from social anxiety and is too scared to leave his apartment.
“The doctors say the blood is pumpin’ through you just fine,
Pulse and tempo on the neon light,
They can’t tell you why you don’t feel right,
They don’t know why you can’t sleep at night.”
With the help of a little blue alien, he’s coaxed out of his panic and able to walk out the front door. It’s a catchy, infectious song with a sweet message that opens up the mainstream public to having discussions about these difficult topics.
Humor is also an effective medium to reach a mass audience and spark a conversation, as evidenced by this meme of Kris Kardashian double fisting champagne flutes. I don’t think that making light of mental illness detracts from the gravity of it. Through seeing a popular figure attached with that caption, rather than the cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoos’ Nest, I believe that these images will encourage empathy towards those suffering from mental illness.
I hope that any of you reading this who are suffering from a mental illness can find solace in the fact that you aren’t alone in your struggle and that it’s going to be okay. There are millions of people ready to dance with you, laugh with you, and ultimately help bandage your wounds and lovingly sign your cast with a Sharpie.