We glamorize depression

We do not help mental health patients in our culture; we shun them. And then, we put up pretty pictures of them to make ourselves feel better about it.

I recently started a YouTube channel and, of course, the haters are out in full force.

One comment in particular warrants deeper thought.

The person said, essentially:

“How dare you just try to make depression look cute, it makes it harder for people who are really depressed” [edited for spelling, clarity, and vulgarity]

First of all, thanks for the compliment, hater. I know I’m cute.

More importantly, though, depression was cute long before I started talking about it.

We make depression cute, glamorous, sexy, funny, fashionable, and all kinds of trendy.

Just look at pop culture:

These images teach us that depression is feminine, mysterious, and passive. Of course, not all depressed people are women, and depression is definitely not cute.

Depression is something you have, not something you are. And it’s not funny, sexy, glamorous, or any other kind of enjoyable.

At my darkest times, I felt keenly the hardship of being an unwashed, unshaven, unfed, unhappy person. It was not at all cute.

And yet, we like to make it so.

Interestingly enough, humans have glamorized illness for centuries.

Here’s some examples from the Victorian era, when they glamorized tuberculosis:

My favorite book about this topic was written by Carolyn A. Day, who goes into the details. Overall, though, we’ve been making illness look inspiring for a long time.

This is a problem.

We cannot keep glamorizing suffering and expect to help anyone. Sure, we can frankly and honestly talk about our experiences and symptoms, but glorifying misery helps no one.

In fact, it perpetuates the angst.

Depression is a mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical experience. People with depression aren’t just “ill” in their brain, they’ve been subjected to labeling and stigma their entire lives. We have no societal ability to describe suffering meaningfully, so we label people with feelings as “broken” and then medicate them.

I went to YouTube to describe depression as oppression.

Understandably, people reacted negatively.

However, we are ignoring wider cultural misunderstandings about what it means to be human.

We do not help mental health patients in our culture; we shun them. And then, we put up pretty pictures of them to make ourselves feel better about it.

It’s gotta stop.

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