Hello, my sweet and wonderful followers. Today, I am gonna get very real with you, because there are a lot of things that have really been upsetting and frustrating to me recently on the internet. It’s time for us to talk about those things.
To start off, I am going to get a little personal, because in my opinion, empathy is the most important quality someone working in a helping profession can possess. Around this time 5 years ago, I began having some serious mental health problems of my own. I had struggled with depression throughout my adolescence, as a lot of teenagers do, but after a few months and a cocktail of different anti-depressants and anxiety medications, the situation worsened. One October evening, I suffered from a nervous breakdown that resulted in my losing touch with reality. I will not go into detail, but I spent a brief stint in a psychiatric facility after my break from reality resulted in a suicide attempt. Clearly, because I am writing this, I survived, albeit with a laundry list of diagnoses. It took some hard work, but after a lot of therapy, and a lot less time than you would think, I was able to live independently and completely free of medication. This was, of course, not the end of all of my mental health struggles and certainly not the last time mental illness would touch my life, be it my illnesses or the illness of others.
I am going to tell you something that is not a secret: mental illness is not glamorous. It is not hauntingly beautiful. I did not meet a beautiful boy in a psychiatric hospital that understood my flaws and kissed away my tears. Depression and mental illness turn totally capable and independent people into unrecognizable shells. Do you think it was beautiful when my roommate had to hold my hand as I lay unconscious after swallowing a bottle of Xanax? Do you think the “aesthetic” of having to cut the drawstrings out of your sweatpants so you won’t harm yourself is desirable? Do you think that having to sheepishly ask your father if he still loves you now that you lost your mind is noble? Do you think that having to shave your legs in the presence of medical staff is a fun adventure? I will tell you from my own experience that it absolutely is none of those things. I was an intelligent, hard-working, determined 19 year old college student with my entire life ahead of me and was incredibly close to losing it all because I was too stubborn to admit that I needed help. Mental health is something that I am fiercely passionate about for so many reasons, but the reason that I began this service is because I believe that our community can benefit from the help of someone who understands all sides of it. Because of my experiences, I have a heart for helping others suffering with their own mental health, and I was drawn to this community because, like many of you, I found fantastic music and individuals that helped me feel less alone.
It was perfect timing when Dan Campbell sang that he wasn’t sad anymore through my speakers and his sentiment of feeling trapped rather than depressed. But as quickly as our community resonated with this victory over our negativity, the beautifully somber Lana del Rey flooded our speakers with being a “sad girl.” For some reason, young people everywhere began worshipping her flower crowns and her crooning over men that made her hate herself. I have a big problem with the idea of being a “sad girl/boy” or the trivialization of mental illness in any capacity. I should not be the one to tell you that self-loathing will not make you appear beautiful to other people. Being a manic pixie dream girl does not make you more interesting. I can tell you from personal experience that suffering through a life-threatening mental illness did not (and does not) make someone appear enigmatic or beautiful or courageous. Perpetuating this idea that sadness drives creativity or that suffering turns you into some mysterious and beautiful creature is not okay. Perpetuating this idea is DANGEROUS. If we continue to act like mental illness is glamorous or trendy, we are going to create an even more toxic environment than the one that currently exists.
To quote a very wonderful band, Straylight Run, “a laundry list of problems doesn’t make you interesting and never getting help doesn’t make you brave.” My very wonderful friend and incredibly talented musician, Cam Boucher, spoke out about this issue today on Alternative Press. This is an important issue. We are not only neglecting our own care by preaching about the glamour of depression, but we are setting a precedent for Yung Punx to think that this behavior is acceptable. It isn’t acceptable. It is dangerous. We have an opportunity to change this environment, so let’s seize that opportunity. You don’t have to be sad.
For a safe place to have unbiased discussion, vent, or seek mental health assistance, email me at punktalks(at)gmail(dot)com. You are not alone.