Sucks To Be Sick | Amy Cheng

Sucks To Be Sick

by Amy Cheng

It is the same as any other illness. You feel sick, maybe you experience strange symptoms. You go to a doctor and they diagnose you and prescribe you suitable medicine. You get better. It is the same as any other illness, but mental illness keeps you from being able to seek help.

Oftentimes it is just too intimidating to go to a doctor to talk about such an intangible problem, so you don’t go and the problem festers and gets worse. And the worse it gets, the worse it gets, until you question how much longer you can bear the pain, whether you can bear it any longer. But you still don’t seek help.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 20% of adolescents ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition, 11% with a mood disorder, 10% have a behavioral disorder, and 8% have anxiety disorder. They go on to list common symptoms that parents and friends should use for identifying mental illness, but usually, the patients themselves will hide the symptoms. We are lucky to live in a world where mental illness and the discussion of mental illness is more open than ever, but it is still hard to talk about such an overwhelmingly personal problem.

Still, humans are social creatures. We crave communication and reassurance and company. Teenagers, in particular, have close relationships with the internet and social media, and so many people ask for help online, under pseudonyms, because the internet gives a sense of anonymity. Maybe they can’t confess how they feel in real life, so they resort to typing on the internet because it is all they can do. Just the act of translating feelings to thoughts to words can be cathartic, and acknowledgment is the first step towards recovery.

But on social media, the public becomes a mass of judges. Whether they like your posts or not is quantified with likes and reposts, so you arrange your confessions on beautiful backdrops with pretty fonts.

This romanticization of mental illness everywhere, these posts are shared and liked and glanced at or ignored, and maybe it’s reassuring to see the massive followings that these posts gather, as proof that you don’t suffer along. But it’s terrifying to see the massive followings that these posts gather. Posts that normalize the pain of mental illness are so commonplace online, that it becomes habit to relate to the otherwise harmful mental disorders. And if those feelings are normal, then the urge to ignore symptoms becomes even stronger, develops into ignorance and a refusal to recognize it as for as an illness.

If you find yourself relating to quotes that, in hindsight, signify unhealthy mindsets, be aware that mental illness is significant. However comforting anonymity and company are, though, professional treatment is more reliable. If you can’t face the bright white lights of a doctor’s office, and the calculated questions, talk to a friend. Text them if you can’t face them, and work your way up to a professional diagnosis. Try to heal yourself, because you can.