We need to stop visualising mental health conditions as a badge of honour. We need to stop perpetuating the dangerous idea that mental illness is beautiful and poetic. We need to stop projecting damaging ideas and thoughts to vulnerable, impressionable young people.
It’s not a contest to see who is the most ‘damaged’ or ‘broken’, there is no joke in off-handedly declaring ‘crippling anxiety and depression’. Nobody who has a mental health condition wants to have a mental health condition.
There is no beauty in anorexia, no silver lining to depression, and no amount of scattered roses, kisses or black and white photographs of cigarettes is going to make self-harming beautifully tragic.
If you are diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional then you will understand how damaging it is for those who self-diagnose to trivialise debilitating or chronic symptoms and turn them into a pity party for likes.
The way young people view mental health has become horribly distorted, people are now viewing mental health conditions as something to aspire to, glorifying self-harm or suicide and other damaging ideas.
In a preliminary google search I came across such things as:
. A gun with flowers placed in the barrel
. A pot of razor blades with the caption ‘This is a different kind of art’
. A makeup kit with the inclusion of razor blades.
. A pill bottle with the pills replaced with pearl beads
. A noose threaded with flowers
. A quote “I’m jealous of people with enough self-control to be anorexic”
. A quote “I think suicidal people are just angels that want to go home”
. Self-harm scars and cigarettes with the caption “beautiful”
If you are vulnerable and diagnosed with a mental health condition, coming across such blogs or images online is especially dangerous. It may lead you to believe that they are true, or reinforce false beliefs you already held.
After seeing these images or posts online you may begin to believe that that is the only option or a solution to your problems; which is why we need to fight this new battle for mental health, because while there are still people who romanticise mental illness, there will be scared and vulnerable people that will believe them.
My chest is burning as I research into blogs that promote mental illness as a desirable trait; it is extremely upsetting to know that there are people out there that will see the same things and believe them.
Whilst there are those that feel they can only communicate their distress through these types of posts online, there needs to be a line drawn between self-expression and dangerous or influencing posting.
We need to be careful with our personal views when expressing them through social media, for example: we need to respect that there are those who may take action from reading an influencing post about suicidal ideation.
It is important to ensure that you open up a channel to talk about your mental health condition, without promoting dangerous ideas, and with other’s emotional state in mind. I have a personal blog where I write all of my deepest, darkest, and potentially triggering or upsetting thoughts – but I have made it a private blog that no one else can access.
On all posts on this blog that may contain anything potentially triggering I include a trigger warning and provide links to information and resources for those who may be considering suicide or self-injury whilst reading my blog.
I appreciate that everyone needs an outlet for their emotional struggles, and as an artist myself I fully understand the desire and need to create emotionally charged artwork based on my experiences with a mental health condition.
However I also understand that I must be careful to inform my work on a deeper level with information that is thoroughly researched and to provide resources for those who may resonate with my work.
I learnt my lesson the hard way. After one suicide attempt I produced a zine (self-published magazine) that detailed in harrowingly intricate detail exactly how I carried out my attempt. The project was for my own personal gain; I wanted to come to terms with the experience and to work through my feelings using my art.
However, many months after reading my zine, someone close to me also attempted suicide using the same method that I had described in the zine. It was heart-wrenching knowing that I had potentially caused it through what was supposed to help me. I am now much more careful about the information I share with regards to my own mental health condition, and always include help and support resources when discussing mental health.
It is extremely important that we change the light in which we view mental health. We must change the way we talk about mental health and educate young people properly with the correct information.
We must strive to promote emotional first-aid, and self-care, and provide support and help for those who are struggling.
If you are struggling with self-harm urges at the moment then please see this post on Coping With The Urge To Self-Harm
If you are in crisis and need urgent help, please see this post for Help & Support Options (UK)
If you know someone who may be struggling at the moment then people see this post for How You Can Help