Sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint the source of a feeling: am I having a bad week? Is it the hormones in my contraception? Am I suffering from a mental health problem? This is becoming progressively more difficult, I feel, because all of a sudden we’re so aware of mental illness, to the point where, because there is no proper education surrounding it, people seem to immediately be jumping to depression – whatever they determine the root cause of that to be.
A depressed mood can be caused by so many different factors, and the fact that we don’t have enough knowledge of mental health, to any extent, means that we cannot understand what’s happening in our own heads. Particularly when it comes to the pill, people are so quick to blame it for their emotional downward spirals, but maybe that’s not what’s causing it.
The popular discourse surrounding the oral contraceptive, is that it makes you fat and depressed, particularly the most-prescribed pill: rigevidon. I’ve been on rigevidon since I was sixteen, and found it to be the only pill that somewhat reduces my bleeding and cramping – what I initially started taking it for. However, I think blaming your emotions on the pill can be hugely detrimental; I feel that, though it may cause some imbalances, blaming depression on it can be somewhat of a crutch, thus causing other issues to be ignored.
To presume coming off the pill is a quick-fix, I think is damaging. There are causes of depression, whether they be mental scars, or mental imbalances, and these must be addressed. Feeling empty inside and avoiding social situations in order not to feel detached from loved-ones is not normal, and in recent years it has been normalised among the younger generations on social media, with humour surrounding depression rhetoric. Yeah, it’s relatable and funny, but when you stop and think about it, you realise that a ‘lol that’s so me’ is actually dangerous.
If it genuinely is you, sat at home, surrounded by a week of bingeing and not-washing and generally not taking care of yourself, you need help, and tweeting about it to make light of it is not going to do that. Though I fully agree that widening discourse on mental health means that it becomes less and less taboo, and people are becoming more and more aware that their symptoms are not normal and are in need of medical help, there are some situations where the opposite seems to be happening.
Depression is not a bandwagon to jump on, neither is bipolar, schizophrenia, any other mental disorder. These illnesses severely impact people’s lives on a scale that most people will never understand – and wouldn’t want to understand. Depression is not a fad, anxiety is not an edgy quirk, and it isn’t something to be screaming about to get retweets. People should not be feeling like they’ll be tarred with the same brush as those who wear t-shirts labelled ‘ANXIETY’ and use it as a ‘cute’ personality trait. Sufferers should be able to be met with the concern they are owed when it comes to mental health rather than met with the blank response with which mainstream trends are often met.
Mental illness is not a fad, it isn’t a characteristic, and it isn’t nice. So if you just like having your shoes arranged according to colour, as opposed to needing to turn the gas on and off 37 times before you leave the house, stop tweeting ‘omg I’m so OCD lol!’. Perhaps more importantly, start actually listening to real people’s experiences with mental health, so we can all understand a little bit more, and help that little bit more.