As someone who has dealt with mental illness and its effects for many years, let's get one thing out the way: if you are struggling, I stand with you.
This attitude toward mental illness drives me absolutely batty. Anxiety isn't trendy, depression isn't cute, and saying things like "omg i'm soooo crazy lol" will not win you any sympathy from me.
I was diagnosed with both anxiety and OCD in my late 20s (after spending 10 years on the waiting list for a family doctor), and I'm doing the best I can to educate myself and others about mental health. But there's still too much stigma and not enough support for people who are struggling.
When I was a teenager, I talked to my doctor about what I thought was depression. He dismissed it as "mood swings"; then, when I moved home at 23, I visited my mom's doctor to ask her opinion... and she basically told me that "your life sounds fine, it's just a phase you're going through".
Now, imagine if we treated other illnesses the way we do mental illness:
"It's all in your head."
Uh, no shit. That's where my brain is. Kinda like how the pain from my broken ankle is... in my broken ankle (shocking, I know).
"You don't need medication. Just change your diet/exercise/think positive."
Usually uttered by well-meaning friends or family who have no concept of how mental illness works and don't understand how insulting this is. I appreciate that you think you're helping, but all this does is make me want to punch you in the throat.
Are you an M.D.? Do you have irrefutable evidence that positive thinking can magically override my brain chemistry? Are you an expert in my condition?
I get that you mean well. But, if your answer to even one of these is no, leave me alone.
"Calm down and stop panicking. That won't help you."
Trust me: if it were that simple, I'd have stopped panicking ages ago. But that's not how anxiety works... You see, there's this little thing called HAVING ANXIETY.
"You don't look sick."
Yeah, well, you don't look stupid either.
"Don't let it interfere with the rest of your life."
Oh, you mean LIKE AN ACTUAL ILLNESS?
Other than my husband, only a few close friends know about my mental health issues, and they're incredibly supportive. They still invite me to social events or come over to visit (and they're totally okay with me hiding in the closet at parties).
Of course, my anxiety has been a learning experience. I'm pretty open about my triumphs, my struggles, and mental health in general, and I hope that the people around me know that they can ask me if they have questions- understanding mental illness is part of removing the stigma.
But if my condition makes you so uncomfortable that you can't send me a message or call to ask how I'm doing, then perhaps you're the one with the problem.
Remember that you are not your illness. You are a person with a name and a story- you are brave and amazing, and you're one badass motherfucker.
Never give up; I believe in you.