If you had access to the internet a few months ago, you came across Starbucks’ new concoction, the Unicorn Frappé. But wait, let’s rewind. Now, if you’ve been alive recently, you know that unicorns are a big trend. I don’t want to be that guy, but I have loved Unicorns way before it was a thing. Mermaids, matcha, pastel hair, marble, banana leaves. All of these are trends that have come, hung out for a bit and gone or are on their way out. Working with influencers, I’ve been able to photograph a lot of these items. Companies jump on this immediately and that’s how 17 bloggers end up promoting the same portable phone charger covered in beautiful green leaves and a marble phone case. This is fine. This is how marketing works. Something is hot and you jump on it because hello, money.
Needless to say (but obviously it needs to be said because here we are), depression and anxiety are not trends, they are mental health issues.
Most recently, a lot of influential people have been opening up about their mental health issues. Bloggers have been opening up about their sadness, emptiness, and feelings of purposelessness. THIS IS IMPORTANT. We absolutely, 100% need for people to use their platforms to touch on topics that are considered taboo in today’s society. These are the posts that get fantastic engagement. These are the posts that make internet celebs a little more human and approachable. Now, these are the posts everyone wants to make because ENGAGEMENT. We have popular sites (which I will not name cause ain’t nobody tryna’ get sued) make quizzes with titles like “How depressed are you?” Because yes, an online quiz can tell you that you are feeling “feelings of severe despondency and dejection.” God Bless the internet for definitions.
The excessive amount of articles, people, and information speaking out on mental health has not only normalized it to an extent, but it has also made it a trend. Meaning it is now cool to be depressed and anxious because it makes you more relatable and “real.” BYE. Yes. I am so happy that people are talking about these topics now. Yes. I am elated that it’s not being brushed off as easily. But what happens when no one is depressed anymore because they were never really depressed, to begin with? What happens when the people you thought you could relate to because that one time they got really sad all of a sudden better after 4 free vacations and diamond sponsored bracelet?
Mental health is a serious issue. It is an issue that is insanely dear to my heart because I suffer from it. I know others who have suffered and are currently suffering. I know what it can do to a person if it is not treated properly. I know what it’s like to struggle to receive treatment because of the way it is portrayed in my culture. I know what it’s like to eat ramen packets for weeks so that I can afford therapy. It fucks it relationships, jobs, physical health and so much more. So when I see people on the internet who have previously shamed mental health or have dismissed it, go on to say that they are sad and life is really hard for them too in a way that is so ingenue, it’s really upsetting.
Everyone struggles with things we don’t know about. The beauty of the internet is that I can choose what I want you to see. I can choose what I want you to think of me. I personally choose to be open about the things that I am passionate about. I’ll admit, I’m oftentimes passionate to a fault but that is the way that I am built and I am okay with that. People get sad, overwhelmed, overworked. They feel empty, misunderstood or lonely. This happens a lot among people in the public eye. You have to curate everything you say so that people see that you’re happy all of the time and life is perfect so they should all want to strive for the same things you have. I GET ALL OF THAT. But, you don’t get to glamorize mental health for the sake of your analytics.
If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.
Just yesterday I pulled out of a campaign to advertise a fast food collaboration with a popular company. The benefits of this campaign were amazing but right when I received the contract I thought to myself. “Girl, take several seats because number one, you don’t even eat fast food. Number two what in the actual f? Number three, get your life.” I apologized to the company and asked them to keep me in mind for future collaborations that were still true to my brand and my personal beliefs.
My point is if you’re going to share your mental health issues, share YOUR mental health issues. Don’t piggyback off of someone’s viral video or post. If you feel inspired, there are ways to share your story without stealing from someone else’s story. Do your research. Talk to a professional. Come back to your platform with USEFUL information. I learned so much from therapy. I’ve been in therapy since I was 17. I’m 27 now. I’ve been actively participating in one on one therapy for the last 5 years.
Being open about my struggles has allowed so many people to feel good about sharing their story and I am so grateful for that. But it’s always their unique story, and it still ties us together. Unfortunately, there aren’t 10 steps I can share for a better you. There isn’t a trick I learned in therapy and the enlightening revelation I had while sipping my 12 dollar, over roasted coffee isn’t guaranteed to fix you. But I can be me. No one else but me. I read this quote one time that said: “No one is you, and that is your power.” Your voice is your own, your struggles are your own and you are your own. Be YOU.
Oh, the Unicorn Frappé. That shit tastes like dirty mop water with expired sour patch kids scraped off of the back row of the movie theater floor during Thanksgiving weekend. And guess what? Everyone forgot about it. In a few months, the next big thing will be butterflies or temporary jail tattoos. Everyone will forget about mermaids, marble, and other trending things. People often live with mental health issues FOREVER. So when your green tea latte obsession is over, my depression and anxiety is still here. I can’t choose a new mental health issue to struggle with. I can’t pull up to the mental health drive through and order a little less anxiety in my coffee.
Please be respectful of the people suffering from these conditions. If you yourself are suffering from mental health issues, reach out to someone you trust. Seek professional help and take care of yourself. Self-care is the most important type of care. You owe it to yourself to take care of you. If you are going to share your struggles, again, do it in a way that is yours. In a way that makes you feel comfortable and safe. You are loved and there is a community of people, professionals, and strangers who are here for you.