Mental illness is pretty prevalent among users of social media, so self care posts are often made and passed around in an effort to help people. They tend to be cutesy reminders to eat, wash, that they’re worthwhile, that strangers love them, etc.
At first, I thought these were wonderful. But when I found myself in my deepest, darkest depression, I didn’t find these helpful at all. And now that I’m in a better place mentally, I (and other members of my family, who also have their mental health problems) kind of find these self care posts a little patronizing and condescending.
And what bothers me the most is that there’s this major cognitive dissonance because for all the people who keep passing around saccharine self care posts, they don’t seem to do anything about it afterwards. They often make posts on how they’re so depressed all the time, that they want to die, that they’re awake all night and sleep all day, and such. There seems to be this pervasive attitude that once you’re on your own, you’re REALLY on your own. No meds or therapy unless you REALLY need it (because apparently all doctors are untrustworthy), not even support. There even seems to be a negative attitude towards seeking help and comfort from parents, which would make sense when parents are genuinely abusive, but social media tends to make all parents out to be The Worst. Basically, young people feel the need to be on their own and only seek help from their peers, who, while they can certainly offer some support, can’t entirely help you in the long run. Or they don’t seek help at all, and just wallow in their depression and share self-care posts in an attempt to feel better.
When I was in my darkest hour, things were pretty bad. I did feel better with talk therapy, but I could not for the life of me partake in cognitive behavioral therapy. I was too scared to take meds, and didn’t really want to do anything while I waited for different doctors appointments.
And then the intrusive thoughts came.
If you don’t know what exactly intrusive thoughts are, it’s like having nightmares during the day. Basically, whenever I tried to think about something I like, something gross or disturbing would barge itself into the thought and wouldn’t go away. That was when I knew I HAD to get help. I HAD to take action. And I did. Now, I’m medicated, I see a social worker every few weeks, I make efforts to drive and get out of the house, and I go to school, and I’m searching for work. None of that wouldn’t have happened if I had just accepted my lot in life.
And that’s what I feel is wrong. I feel like all these depressed people feel like they HAVE to be depressed or anxious or such. And that’s not true. If your mental illness prevents you from living life, you cannot just accept it. You NEED to go out and do something about it, even if it means getting help from your parents and doctors. There’s nothing wrong with that.
For those of you who have trouble finding an epiphany as a motivator, I suggest re-watching Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6 and really pay attention to them.
Ralph is lonely, depressed, is stuck in a shitty job with bosses and co-workers who don’t appreciate him, has a crummy living situation, and has trouble with food and hygiene. You know what he did? He sought to change it. He knew he couldn’t accept this anymore. So he went out to change his life. And while he couldn’t fully change it, he now has a support system in place, he reaches out to people, and has made amends with his job and has a better living situation. He’s taking things ‘one game at a time’.
Hiro is depressed after the death of his brother and doesn’t eat, is tired a lot, and doesn’t want to leave his room or go to school. A healthcare robot and four wonderful (older) friends reach out to him and give him all the love and support he needs. By letting them in and realizing his own mistakes and the importance of actively doing things to help others, Hiro makes a wonderful recovery, even if he still misses his brother.
The important thing about both movies is that both characters are valid and loved and are getting the help they need. But they got that help by either seeking it out or accepting it when it was offered, both of which are things people in real life can learn from.
Mental illness is a lifelong battle, but it doesn’t have to define you or hold you down. And when you watch these movies again, take in how the characters get better and see how you can apply that. Because things will get better, but they won’t get better unless you TRY.