“Get Over It”

What we need to understand about mental illness

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“Get Over It”

photo by Lexie Vincenty

photo by Lexie Vincenty

photo by Lexie Vincenty

Connor Foran, Reporter

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There’s a certain cartoon I’ve seen multiple times– whether it be floating around on the internet or on a teacher’s wall– and every single time I see it my eyes roll back into my head so far that I can see my own thoughts. Rather than describe it for you, I’ll just put it right here.

I find this infuriating– not only because it’s obviously a Facebook-exclusive meme that you’d find among the multitude of Minion memes about Fridays and your aunt ranting about politics, but because its message is incredibly unrealistic. It contributes to a culture that ignores the legitimacy of mental illness. For some people, like me, our problems can’t be solved by just switching over to the other side of the figurative bus.

To provide some background, I was diagnosed with ADHD and social anxiety back in 2014. Though this is a fairly recent diagnosis, looking back I can definitely see the signs and symptoms of my illnesses even when I was in elementary school. For instance, during class I would always (and still do) end up drawing, looking out the window, staring at the various cheesy Garfield posters hung about the classroom, or just thinking about something else altogether instead of paying attention. In addition, I was extremely sensitive, and I cried much more easily and more frequently than my peers. This quickly became something I was extremely self-conscious about.

Many of my teachers were concerned about me and wanted to help, but the efforts they made did more harm than good. “Well, your other classmates are having similar problems” is something I would hear very often. I would feel the judgment from the other kids, too. Some years, I even kept score of how many times my classmates cried compared to me, and by fifth grade, I started to hate myself because I thought I wouldn’t emotionally mature at the same time my peers did. I didn’t understand why I was so sensitive — I just was.

I can promise you this: if it were as easy as looking at a sunset, nobody would have depression.”

Now, seven years later, so much has changed … and yet so much hasn’t. Thankfully, I don’t cry as often as I used to; however, the littlest things can put me in a bad mood or send me spiraling into an anxiety attack. Even if things are going great, unreasonable paranoia comes from out of nowhere that will instantly kill my positivity. I know now that, even though I’m trying to get better, I can’t always control the way I feel, and that the reaction is not my fault. But still, stigma creeps in through the cracks.

Society often neglects mental illness, and people brush it off as insignificant because it isn’t visible. Those of us who are mentally ill are expected to manage it perfectly in order to meet the standards of neurotypicals or people who don’t experience mental illness. They have us believing that our problems can be solved by simply just changing our attitude or walking outside and getting some fresh air.

I can promise you this: if it were as easy as looking at a sunset, nobody would have depression. I sure wouldn’t have spent years upon years beating myself up if I could just fix it with a glass of water. So it’s extremely important that those suffering from mental illness are recognized and accepted and that they get the treatment they need.

If you have a friend who’s struggling with mental illness, please be patient with them. If you think you might be experiencing signs of mental illness in any form, please talk to a doctor. Don’t let this issue be ignored; otherwise, people who could be helped will continue to live in shame.