A fashion statement?
Mental illness is considered to be a taboo topic of conversation by most, due to its nature of being misinterpreted or misunderstood, more often than not. There has been a phenomenal rise in the number of people suffering from mental illnesses. This has a lot to do with how society has shaped itself and how complicated it has become. In order to keep up with this dynamic environment, we have complicated ourselves- be it in terms of social conduct, philosophy or academia.
This complexity has gone beyond our conscious decision making capabilities and has taken up residence in a more deeper, subconscious corner of our psyche. As human beings, we have an innate desire to be unique – to be set apart from the rest of the pack. Resonating from this desire to be unique, we sometimes resort to self-deception. This often comes in the form of claiming that one has depression, OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorder or all of the aforementioned.
A possible link between higher intelligence, creativity and having a mental disorder has been the subject of much controversy and scrutiny in the past century. Many historical geniuses such as Beethoven, Charles Darwin and Van Gogh are believed to have had mental disorders which acted as a catalyst of their brilliant work. To some extent we all want to be pioneers of something great and it’s certainly something to strive for. However, there are people who subconsciously believe that establishing a mental illness is a step towards achieving this.
The line between a self-deceived mental illness and and an actual one is blurred, making it a very dangerous topic to speak on. What further complicates the issue is that it is encompassed in subjectivity. Human emotions can be unpredictable and inaccurate compared to the actual state. This volatility is the result of a conflict between who we think we are, or should be, and who we actually are.
As millennials, we have our flaws. One of these flaws, I feel, is that we’re trivialising the idea of having depression or other mental illnesses with how loosely we use these terms and the context in which we use them. It’s become somewhat of a trend to have a mental disorder with ‘relatable memes’ going around about depression and anxiety.
I certainly indulged myself into this culture at one point, thinking I genuinely had OCD because by nature, I’m particular about a lot of things. Also sometimes, it has nothing to do with culture. Personally, growing up under unfavourable circumstances, I often deceived myself by justifying previous and future actions through depression. It also helped to earn sympathy points from peers and that further validated my belief.
I know of many others who used depression or other mental disorders as a scapegoat for something they could not achieve or will not achieve. Once you’ve indulged into the idea of being ‘damaged’, you’ll start acting accordingly in a subconscious manner. This is increasingly becoming a more attractive idea for many given the number of famous and influential musicians/celebrities succumbing to their depression.
Growing up listening to Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Amy Winehouse and others, many of us are bound to be influenced by their personalities. Because of this, we’re sometimes quick to dispense of the word depression when we label ourselves and each other. This trend doesn’t do justice to the people actually suffering from mental ailments and in my opinion there should be a collective effort from all of us to stop treating this as a fashion statement and stand against how social media has redefined mental health.
The solution for self-deception is to be in tune with yourself. When facing an internal contradiction, rather than dismissing it entirely, consciously think about why you’re doing something. An interesting indicator of self-deception is guilt. It makes itself aware in the window of a few minutes before you start convincing yourself. By expanding our field of conscious decision making, we can accurately identify the problem and not dismiss it, because our subconscious mind makes decisions which our conscious mind doesn’t.