An essay on depression and anxiety
At the age of 24 being depressed isn’t cute anymore. I’m not saying that mental health issues are cute to begin with, i’m saying that personal responsibility increases with age. As a teenager you have a bit more scope to be the young and glamorous stereotype, permeated in a Lana Del Ray lucid dream. At 24 with the first signs of aging beginning to show on your forehead, greying skin has caste away all previous youthful forgiving. Depression now isn’t a silent illness. Years of lows and the current neglect you’ve been giving yourself can’t hide under the surface forever.
As a teenager you have a bit more scope to be the young and glamorous stereotype, permeated in a Lana Del Ray lucid dream.
It’s no longer a societal acceptance not to have a lid on your shit. Eating a whole packet of coco pops as your total calorific consumption isn’t a fun thing to do at this stage in life, it’s a sign that there’s nothing left in your cupboard because you haven’t been able to follow your intrinsic hunter gatherer genes and gone to in search for food to keep you alive.
Or alternatively, maybe you managed to pull yourself together for the sum total of 5 minutes to look like a functioning member of society. Maybe you did make it to the supermarket but the pressure of having to look together sets It off. The feeling of that cold sweat overcomes you under your winter coat, the roots of your latest scalp bleach have reached 3 inches, the ever growing dark circles under your eyes show no mercy to your non made up face. Everyone in here knows you’re not succeeding as a functioning member of society. But you did it, you made it to the shop.
The facade can’t last too much longer so you reach for what you can as quick as you can. Coco pops. You pay and make a hasty, anxious sprint back for home. Only narrowly avoiding bumping into five people on the way, nearly getting hit by a car and fumbling for your house keys and dropping them by your door. Anxiety can be overwhelming.
Well done, you made it out the house today. You bought food and washed your body in order to leave and you made it back in one piece. I’m sure the security guard can’t keep on track of your food habits. I’m sure he hasn’t clocked your second packet this week. Stop being so narcissistic no one cares what you look like or are buying. Stop always thinking of yourself.
The automated response leaves your lips, it doesn’t even cross your mind that this isn’t true.
Your housemates comes back from work, he asks how you are, “good, thank you. You? How was your day?” The automated response leaves your lips, it doesn’t even cross your mind that this isn’t true. You’re living your norm quickly diverting attention away from yourself, celebrating their successes of the day with them. They congratulate you on how well you seem to be getting. You’ve become a master of hiding it. You couldn’t actually say how you have been or what you have done with your day.
Maybe you’re having a better day. Maybe you manage to clean your whole bedroom and the kitchen. You buy some food for the whole week to facilitate some sort of meal prepped healthiness. But it catches you as you start to cook. You just spent £20 on food but you boil some pasta and smother it in ketchup instead. Ah well you can’t win them all you think. Being in bed by 10 though, that’s great, what a good day. Nope. You lay awake all night, heart palpitations, racing heart rate and thoughts that won’t stop. You can’t win them all you think. You won’t win any of them you know.
Kristen Bell is once again shattering the stereotype that mental illness defines a person.
Bell wrote an essay for TIME on Tuesday, in which she opened up about her own experiences with depression. Her story is a raw, honest testimony to the struggles people with mental health conditions face on a regular basis.
"For me, depression is not sadness. It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug," she wrote. "It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness ... I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure. Now, after seeking help, I can see that those thoughts, of course, couldn’t have been more wrong."
The "Frozen" star also called out society's lack of compassion or understanding when it comes to mental health issues, driving home the point that mental health disorders don't discriminate based on gender, age or even celebrity.
"There is such an extreme stigma about mental health issues, and I can’t make heads or tails of why it exists," she continued. "Anxiety and depression are impervious to accolades or achievements. Anyone can be affected, despite their level of success or their place on the food chain."
Bell's advocacy for mental health has been strong lately. Last month, the actress sat down for an interview for "Off Camera with Sam Jones," where she discussed her depression and anxiety issues. She slammed the negative perceptions surrounding treatment, and especially medication.
“If you do decide to go on a prescription to help yourself, understand that the world wants to shame you for that, but in the medical community, you would never deny a diabetic his insulin. Ever,” she said in the interview. “But for some reason, when someone needs a serotonin [reuptake] inhibitor, they’re immediately crazy or something.”
Nearly one in five Americans will experience a mental health issue at some point in their life, yet many people don't seek treatment for these issues due to stigma. Candid, public conversations like Bell's help to eradicate a negative stereotype that has no sense of existing in the first place.
"Depression is a problem that actually has so many solutions," Bell wrote in TIME. "Let’s work together to find those solutions for each other and cast some light on a dark situation."
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