Mental illness is dark. It should never be a fashion statement

Trend of glamorising mental problems is as bad as stigmatising them

Bronagh Loughlin: ‘There are too many places selling clothing regarding mental illnesses.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Bronagh Loughlin: ‘There are too many places selling clothing regarding mental illnesses.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed one day when I saw a post from a popular influencer. She was advertising new clothing she was launching, centred on anxiety disorder.

There were two items, a hoody with a definition of anxiety on the back and a T-shirt that said something along the lines of “My anxiety has anxieties”. I knew she was a YouTube influencer who spoke candidly about having anxiety, which is a great thing to do given that she has such a large audience and, in turn, influence.

However, the post left me, a fellow individual with anxiety disorder, very uncomfortable that she was glamorising mental illness to her impressionable audience – and in addition profiting from it.

I have spoken about stigmatisation previously and the damage it can cause to sufferers. If you do not know what I mean by glamorisation of mental health, it is basically the opposite – essentially making mental illness appear beautiful and trendy as opposed to taboo.

It may not sound that bad. However, it can have a damaging impact on individuals suffering with mental illnesses. Glamorising mental health makes people think it is cool, fashionable, trendy to have a mental illness and that it is something they must obtain.

As with stigmatisation, glamorisation is miles from where we need to be when approaching someone’s mental health issues. Mental illness is not a fashion trend; it is not something people should want.

The individuals who have mental illnesses would not wish it on their worst enemy. Mental illness can make an individual feel so alone in a crowded room.

Shouting loudly

Stigmatisation frustrates me, however glamorisation frustrates me even more because it makes mental illness about who can shout the extent of their illness the loudest.

The problem is, if you are going around saying you have depression for the sake of feeling trendy, people analyse how you behave and how you say you feel. In return this gives them expectations of how someone with depression should act.

They may think the illness is a walk in the park rather than the big ordeal it actually.

I go through life feeling ashamed and embarrassed of myself. My anxiety disorder makes me feel like I am less than others, as I cannot function as a normal person in everyday situations.

I would never dream of purchasing a hoody with the definition of anxiety on the back, wear it out and become an advertisement. Mental illness is dark. The thoughts I have would terrify the average person and that goes for many sufferers.

The level of overanalysing I do per day is exhausting. I spend my days feeling exhausted from my own mind and as though I cannot escape.

I really would not wish it on anyone.

Anxiety chic

We see this glamorisation of mental health in more places than we think: in television shows, advertisements, songs, movies, books and more. There are too many places selling clothing regarding mental illnesses.

Glamorisation is visible on social media. Eating disorders are generally painted as a young girl who desires to be thin, stops eating and becomes more and more beautifully frail. The reality is not like that at all.

Eating disorders are often a control mechanism for an individual, either eating too little or eating too much as a way to control an aspect of their life as the remainder of their life feels static.

Even the fact that most people think of anorexia when they hear “eating disorder” is a reflection of glamorisation, as eating disorders become associated with the model body type.

Regarding depression and anxiety, it has become trendy online to be sad and nervous. Depression has become an aesthetic to your feed.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but it should never be something to desire.

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