Monday, 27 October 2014

The Relationship Between The Blogosphere & Mental Health: We Need To Talk.


Here's a little true story for you.

When I was a kid, I was never afraid of spiders. I didn't get it. Everyone would always freak out about them but I never understood why. To me, there was nothing to be afraid of, they were tiny, infrequently seen and essentially harmless. But everyone I knew, loathed them. After so long watching my sister, mum and friends screaming when they saw a spider, I found myself jumping up when I saw one scuttling my way. Because unbeknownst to me, these people who I trusted, respected and loved were more influential than I could imagine. Then I began screaming too. It soon developed into a genuine, debilitating phobia, and to this day I have a crippling fear of the bastards. 

And when you look at that, it's kind of scary in itself.

The blogging world is rife with talk of mental illness right now. As someone who has suffered and also spoken openly about my experiences, it's quite comforting thing to see how people have dealt with and overcome this, and how some people have been leading examples of how it really does get better.

But on the other hand, it worries me deeply.

As bloggers, we are sometimes not even aware of the impact our words can have, just how deep our levels of influence run, and how our greatest intentions can be misconstrued. 

It is an undeniable fact that the blogopshere has grown to a point where the fashion industry now evolves in accordance with what is popular among bloggers. Its true, you see it on instagram weeks before you see it on the high street. 

So when something becomes more prevalent in the blogosphere, retailers take note.

And the absolutely horrifying thing I have begun to notice, is how retailers, even the most trusted ones we respect and love, have suddenly began to regard suffering from mental illness as the latest fashion trend.

From Urban Outfitters appalling 'DEPRESSION' and 'Eat Less' t-shirts, to Joy's 'Don't get mad, take Lithium' greetings card and subsequent mockery of people suffering with Bi-Polar disorder on Twitter, to as recent as ASOS' 'I can't keep calm, I have an anxiety disorder' throw cushions, what the hell kind of message is this sending to genuine sufferers? Your condition is a joke? Or even to those who do not suffer, casting an all together hilarious, piss-taking light on the serious issue of mental health or even worse...

'You're not cool unless you have mental problems?'

This sudden influx worries me greatly, and is poisoning what I do truly believe are honest and ground-breakingly positive moves of bloggers, into something incredibly dangerous to vulnerable, young people.

I feel I must make it pertinently clear here, that I am not saying it is bloggers' fault. I'm very confident that these posts have no ulterior motives and serve as nothing more than cathartic, self-reflexive musings with the aim to hopefully inspire others to get help or to understand. There is no way on Earth I'm saying we should not write about these kinds of things - they are ultimately beautiful, enlightening and positive things.

But it is the fundamental understanding of a blogger that we HAVE to consider the effect our words can have. We HAVE to be wary of every possible consequence behind every word we write, and I think sometimes we can get caught up, prone to just assuming our words are read in a certain way as we intended. 

...But then again, we have the right to discuss whatever we wish on our blogs, and mental health issues are often best when talked about to remove the stigma around them. But with what retailers seem to be thinking is acceptable and the prevalence of these posts everywhere... I'm not going to lie and say it doesn't concern me.

This is a double-edged sword and an incredibly sensitive issue to discuss, and again I feel the need to clarify my purpose here. I'm not saying its irresponsible to talk about negative things. That's the straight up opposite of what I believe. But I want to create open, honest, attack-less grounds for debate upon this subject, because I for one am not going to be afraid to stand up and say that I'm genuinely concerned that over-exposure on this topic is unintentionally having the opposite effect.


Let me explain my reasoning.

Just for one moment, I urge you to consider this scenario:



For this case, because I do not believe it is the fault of any blogger or I do not want to cast aspersions about anyone in particular, let's use the example of a fictional blogger called 'Misty-Anna'.

Swathes of young people in their millions idolise her. Hundreds of thousands of young girls, and boys too, log on every single day to see what she has to say, to feel as though the are a part of her life. 

They love her, because they relate to her, because she speaks a part of them. She talks about things they are already experiencing and tells them it's okay to feel that way, that it does get better. She is not a fictional character in a book or a film. She is real. She is the real life Disney Princess that these people look up to.

These people find comfort in her ways, in her life. They find a common topic amongst themselves, a topic of conversation that they understand, exclusively. They feel included, involved. And so, like with any role model to a young person, whether consciously or subconsciously, they begin to emulate her.  

They follow everything she does, listen to bands she likes, watch movies she likes as if her word is god. Any recommendation of hers becomes commandment, and they begin to dress like her, follow her tutorials about how she does her hair and makeup so they can look like her too.

They go about their daily lives and think 'What would Misty-Anna do?' 'What would Misty-Anna say?' 

And they even begin to base their own characters and personalities upon what they so idolise about her. But that's normal, that's what kids do.

Then she talks about her struggles with mental health. Depression. Anxiety. She has every right to and it's an incredibly brave move. She becomes the strong figurehead, a hero to the people who have suffered in silence, allowing them the relief of coming forward and enabling them to realise that it does get better.

But suddenly this one young girl doesn't understand. She's never felt the things her idol is talking about, the things that so many other people seem to understand, and are praising their idol for talking about.

She reads how her idol describes in detail the struggles she has faced and how she'd react in certain situations, but that seems alien to her. She's never thought of the world like that before.

She watches as so many other people just like her find it relatable and helpful, and she asks herself 'Why don't I get it? Why don't I understand?' - She seems to be the only one who doesn't. 

It suddenly dawns on her that this is one thing she doesn't have in common with her idol. This wasn't like buying the same makeup brushes or wearing her hair tied the same way, this was something impossible to resolve. Yet everyone around her seemed to understand. All of her friends bond over how Misty-Anna's experiences speak to them, but she can't join in. 

She goes to the shops and sees cards, t-shirts, cushions, emblazoned with those phrases, those words and terms that have been spoken by her idol and her friends, but that she doesn't understand. 

She becomes a pariah.

But she begins to learn what they mean, and the price of what it means to understand.

And the next time a situation arises, a situation to which she'd normally be able to handle - she doesn't consciously want to suffer, she doesn't want to have problems - but a little subconscious voice inside her head recognises that this is the kind of situation that Misty-Anna would panic in. The kind that her friends and all those others would freak out about.

And that voice says,

'...What would Misty-Anna think?'


She knows what Misty-Anna would think, she knows what Misty-Anna would do, because she's written in detail about what she thought and how it felt. And so the girl begins to wander about it too. She shifts her perspective of the situation to what her idol would think, to see what it feels like. She begins to think those thoughts which were so troubling but were so inclusive, and made everyone that much closer to their idol than she could be without thinking them, and she begins to fall.

Suddenly all she can do is attribute those thoughts to those situations, and she revisits those Misty-Anna blogs and she gets it now, she understands it so much, just like all the others before her who could relate.

And now she's a part of the conversation. She can join in and understand what her friends are talking about when they discuss it. She feels closer to her idol. She feels more grown up, mature, because isn't Misty-Anna?

But she does not realise the horrifying way her own mind has become manipulated.

And when she sits in front of her mother with silent tears streaking down her face as she shakes in genuine crippling terror at the thought of having to leave the house, her Mother looks down at her Daughter in dismay with her hands agrip of her shoulders and whispers,

"What happened to you, my darling?"

And as the girl remains silent, that little subconscious voice inside her head whispers,


"Now I'm just like Misty-Anna."

*


The blogosphere is expanding to a point of arguably becoming out of control. 

Day by day, regular people - not writers or journalists with years of media training, presenters who've studied the art of public relations, not mental health professionals trained to help people - are becoming famous. Becoming idols. Becoming role models to hundreds of thousands of young people by just speaking openly about themselves and posting whatever they want. And despite this mostly being a positive thing, this combination of lack of guidance/training behind what they're doing paired with their astonishing levels of influence, worries the shit out of me.

I'm not saying I think this is exactly what happens when bloggers post about things like this, but with retailers making a mockery or a fashion trend out of the sincerity of bloggers honest intentions, I'm saying it very much concerns me that the above example is fast becoming a possibility of what could happen. 

And so I don't really know what my over-arching statement here, but I'd henceforth open up the floor to public speculation. I am going to thrust open the doors on an incredibly controversial topic, and welcome all opinions to have an informed debate about this.

Does this worry you too? Do you think the overall relationship between the blogosphere and mental issues is a positive one? Or do you think it is treading a fine line that is is possibly becoming a detriment?

I'd be very, very curious to hear your honest points of view below.


43 comments :

  1. Really interesting topic here!
    I absolutely 100% back any bloggers or vloggers who are able to open up about their own struggles - it's their platform to speak out about their lives and I think in this social media culture it's important for viewers/readers to recognise that not everything is as shiny and perfect as it is frequently displayed on Instagram and in videos. More openness on mental health in general is great for diminishing the stigma so often associated with mental illness and I already feel like it's more "acceptable" nowadays than maybe four or five years ago?

    I do find the way retailers are jumping on these topics and trivialising mental illness absolutely abhorrent. Is it acceptable to roll out tees or phone cases with statements about cancer, or lupus, or even flu?? Of course not, so why is it ok to do so for mental illnesses? Like you I worry about the effects of it becoming "cool" or when people start convincing themselves they have anxiety etc because it's having a bit of a moment. It makes a mockery of the struggle that sufferers go through on a daily basis.
    I do hope though that the open attitude towards speaking out about mental illness will eventually become more widespread and result in people taking it more seriously. Imagine a future where we are better poised to help our children and teenagers cope because we've been through it ourselves - how nice would that be?

    Dani x

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  2. Very well written, I completely agree. I've felt like the little girl in your post but luckily realised this before I imprinted other people's problems onto myself. While it's great that issues like anxiety and depression are being publicised and talked about, it's an incredibly fine line to tread as honesty could be a trigger for other people.
    Hattie
    hattiehards.blogspot.co.uk

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  3. I couldn't agree more with this.

    On the one hand, having your every day, average person being able to discuss their experiences in a way that will help others is brilliant, and I wish when I first started suffering with anxiety and depression that there had been someone who had the exposure but who I could identify with to explain what was happening and give me some reassurance, as my family didn't have a clue either.

    On the flip side, the romanticisation of the whole thing makes me sick. That its even crossed someone's mind to create a product such as the ASOS cushion, or the UO shirts, is absolutely preposterous, how somebody could be so thoughtless and callous just completely mystifies me. And the way that young people think depression or anxiety is exciting, or different or makes them stand out from the crowd makes me sad - it reminds me of how depression was made to seem 'cool' throughout the emo/MySpace era, and despite hating every second battling with it, the illogical side of my brain actually LIKED being included within this group of people who seemed cool and different. And that absolutely terrifies me to look back on.

    I think there honestly needs to be a massive improvement in both the way the media handle mental illness, and also the way in which it is explained to young people. All those lessons in High School dedicated to PGCE gave me absolutely no information on anything other than hormones and puberty - surely the hour every couple of weeks should be dedicated to explaining the symptoms of these illnesses, and explaining what to do if you're experiencing them and the kind of organisations out there that will actually help and give the guidance necessary.

    LJLV | UK Personal Style

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  4. I agree 100% with this post. It is a fantastic thing when people in the blogging community can open up and share their experiences with whatever mental illnesses they have. The whole mental illness taboo is no longer a thing to 'ashamed of' which is great.

    But like you said, their are millions of people who are idolising vloggers and bloggers because they are more human to them than celebrities. (I am 99.9 sure I know who Misty Anna really is... and I totally get what you mean!) Although the words of these people are meant well, and they are making a difference to so many, there are just as many people pretending to be unwell because they are afraid they don't have anything in common with said vlogger/blogger.

    I first noticed it a couple of years ago, with the singer Emilie Autumn, who suffers from Bipolar. The young girls and boys who idolised her all seemed to suffer from Bipolar too. Now I'm not saying that they were all faking it, I'm sure many weren't. But there were girls who were not unwell, who just wanted to be like Emilie. They wore her clothes, make-up, said things she would say... and then they started diagnosing themselves as Bipolar type whatever. All of them the same. There was not one person on her forum who did not claim to suffer from Bipolar.

    It's like it was normal to be mentally unwell, and if you are mentally well then you're the odd one out. You can't join in. You don't get the songs, they're not written for you. Etc.

    It's a hard situation. But I do think there needs to be more emphasis on the 'it's okay to be okay' thing. Mental illness should be shared, and people should be aware and feel like they can open up about it. But on the other hand, people should also be reassured that if they are well, then it's okay to feel 'normal' too.

    Great post :-) x

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  5. I have such mixed feelings on this. Growing up, no one ever talked about teenage depression and anxiety. My own parents even called me "crazy" at one point because they couldn't understand what was happening. There was no one I could relate to, no one I could turn to. There was no "Misty-Anna" to help me understand I wasn't the only one with these feelings. In that regard, I am so glad there are people to discuss this.

    On the other hand, I do see what you mean. I have seen tons of kids now claiming to have panic attacks like their idols, when in reality, they probably have not experienced it. I also see people judge these young women and men on their anxiety issues based on their YouTubes, which I think is incredibly unfair.

    I hope I'm making some sense.

    -Anna x
    www.annainwonderland.co.uk

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  6. This is just a great post and it really got me thinking. I've never thought of any of this before and you make excellent points.
    I think education is going to make a huge difference without any idols being mentioned, just teaching kids the basics by a qualified professional is a good start.

    Jenn
    Photo-Jenn-ic

    x

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  7. I completely agree! It's so great that people are becoming more open about mental health and don't feel as if it's something that they should hide, but about 80% of the people in my school say they have anxiety and depression and it's becoming really irritating and must be horrible for the people that actually do have a mental illness.

    http://www.beautybubblesx.blogspot.com

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  8. I have often wondered why the link between blogging and mental health issues is such a strong one. I don't think I know of any blogger who hasn't had some form of disorder, and to me I guess it seems almost natural that an online medium such as blogging, that allows for incredible creative expression without ever having to leave your bedroom, should be mostly taken up by people who want to remain behind a screen. I do notice more and more people diagnosing themselves with disorders such as anxiety and depression, and this does worry me. But essentially I don't believe it is down to big bloggers or YouTubers at all - in the eyes of many uneducated people, it has always been "cool" to be troubled.

    I wrote a post recently about my experience with anorexia, very much from the standpoint of what people can do to dig themselves out of it. More and more mental health issues are becoming widespread and because of this I do see it as important that awareness is raised, so that sufferers have information, and experience less bigotry. I would be far more concerned about the influence real YouTubers like Sam Pepper have over young boys, teaching them it's okay to assault women. That being said, I think everyone who talks about their mental health issues has a responsibility not to glamorise them. They are hell, and should never be just a talking point to break the ice or get lots of views.

    Sorry for the super long comment, this post was excellently written and really made me think!

    Holly xxx

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  9. I completely agree with this. I know people who pretend to have mental health problems just to be like their idols. It's become a fashion trend, glamorized. People "I have anxiety, I have depression.. etc". It's really sad for people who have it. Mental health issues are joked about and it's just not right. And if you don't have a mental health problem, you aren't the same, you are the odd one out. It's really been bothering me recently. Great post, you get it across really well.

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  10. I definitely agree with the points you have raised. It is very easy to get caught up in a persons life in such a way...and I think it is just as easy for a person who does not suffer with mental health issues to actually consider the symptoms of anxiety/depression when they are so readily broadcast (and I am not slating anyone for this).

    Personally, I feel there is a limit to how much you should share about yourself especially when your original goal was to reach out to others on different topics. Yes people are human, but building a brand means exactly that.

    How lovely would it be for sufferers of these disorders to be able to talk freely without stigma and be taken seriously. T shirts and fashions trends are not the way forward. How can the blogosphere enable these goals to materialise?

    Beautifully written.
    Much love.

    www.tro-unicorns.uk

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  11. This is such an interesting viewpoint on it all. I've written about my own struggle with anxiety before (see it here: http://cominguprosestheblog.com/struggling-with-anxiety/), and received nothing but amazing feedback on how it impacted people. I felt so good about letting that part of me air out on the web, in the hopes that others with similar issues could read it and relate.
    To hear that retailers are materializing our woes...I'm shocked. I didn't realize this was happening, and it's such a sad, desperate attempt at profit! Capitalizing on people's innermost battles isn't respectable. While we shouldn't be ashamed or insecure about our pains, we shouldn't be turning them into throw pillows either!
    Some people go to any length to make trend, and in the meantime, they completely miss the mark. Shame on them for completely missing the mark. And thanks to you for sharing this story.

    lovelovelove,
    Erica
    cominguprosestheblog.com

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  12. Hello Katie, this was a fascinating post to read and I wanted to comment and say a couple of things about my experience. I am 34 and feel like the oldest blogget on the block but when I was 16 before bloggers and vloggers existing and I didn't even own a mobile phone I developed bulimia because I was convinced I had given my nan who I adored Cancer and she died. This was an irrational reaction to the fact That had flu, my nan came to look after me, she caught it, it became pneumonia and she was diagnosed with lung Cancer and she died. I even have tears in my eyes as I type this because it still, all these years later hurts that she died even though now I know I didn't 'give' my nan cancer. But I was going my GCSE's and bulimia was a way of controlling something when all around me was chaos. I had a younger friend, I was 16 and she was 12 and she was like my little sister. I went to great lengths to hide my eating problems but she knew something was wrong and slowly slowly she started copying me-making excuses not to eat, bingeing, purging-she all of a sudden was also bulimic. Previous to that she had no weight issues or concerns. I have had a very 'normal' life and have noticed this epidemic of bloggers having anxiety problems, sometimes (controversially) I think 'why does everyone have to have an issue with something, why can't people just be normal' but I think you have described it so so well, people sometimes don't think they are normal unless they have some kind of disorder.

    14 weeks ago, at 34 I was diagnosed with cancer-I had surgery and it was a success but it was a huge shock. I have lost the ability to have children and it has been an emotional rollercoaster. My recovery took a long time and gave me a lot of time to think. I experienced feelings I had never had before of panic but they were temporary. But my doctor was quick to throw both prozac and Xanax at me as a way to deal with this trauma. I haven't taken either because I know myself well enough to pull me out of the panicky feeling or the down days. I genuinely feel for people who suffer from any mental illness but I do sometimes feel it has become a cool bandwagon to jump on which is dilutes the issue and makes it appear less serious and debilitating. We have to be responsible for our words but we also have to understand why we chose to post about any issues-too many people do it as an attention seeking confidence boost in my opinion knowing they'll get supportive and morale boosting comments.

    Sorry this is the longest comment ever, I just wanted to say I loved the post, it's so very well written and insightful.

    I decided to write about my Cancer journey on my blog because I thought I could help others-mine was cervical and I hadn't been for a smear test for years-if I had I would have been able to identify the cells before they became cancer. I wouldn't have had to go through what I just have. I can encourage others to get checked regularly to stop them going though what I have

    Stacey
    Www.expatmakeupaddict.com

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    1. Sorry I meant to also say that I get asked a LOT how I am feeling after going though the last 14 weeks. And it makes you really question yourself. Should I be anxious? Should I be depressed? Should I be feeling this? Should I be feeling that? Am I normal? Is this a normal reaction? I have come to the conclusion that right now, some things are overwhelming for me-crowds, busy places so I just avoid consciously. For the moment. Not forever. Work was overwhelming when I went back 10 days ago. It's fine now. I am sad I can't ever have a baby, I always assumed I would be a mum. Maybe it comes with age but I know I can't let other people dictate or influence how I feel and I know I don't have to have an issue/illness just to get noticed or fit in

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    2. Oh my gosh this absolutely bought a tear to my eye, I was sat here with my hand over my mouth - you brave, courageous woman.

      Everything you have said is so, so accurate, even the things that we think we should feel bad for thinking I completely empathise with too. Doesn't it seem like having a mental health problem is almost a prerequisite to becoming a successful blogger these days?

      Thank you so much for this comment, I know this will stick with me for a long time. I also appreciate how hard this must've been to share, but I am so glad you did. And you needn't have worried about it being too long, I was captivated.

      I truly wish the best for you Stacey you wonderful woman, you truly do deserve every happiness.

      Lots of love, Katie x x x

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    3. Hi Katie,

      I didn't actually realise you had replied to my comment, I was actually looking for this specific post to show someone today to help illustrate a point I was making-your post was so well written that it summed up the point I was trying to get across much better than I was!

      Thank you very much for replying. I am now almost 4 months post surgery and have been back at work 4 weeks. All my check ups have been clear so far and I am now keen to put this year behind me and go into 2015 happier and healthier.

      I still very much have a 'comfort zone'-if it's not my apartment, my car or the office it's probably not happening at the moment but I am ok with that-I still don't believe I have anxiety or depression-I am just in recover.

      I hope that people really consider their situation before proclaiming they have a mental illness-your example is spot on. I suspect that in reality, most people have the odd down day. Believing that is 'anxiety' or 'depression' just because on that particular down day some of their feelings match what a blogger has spoken about is a big problem as well as being disrespectful to those genuinely suffering.

      Am loving reading what you're writing xxx

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  13. This has been something that has been worrying me for a while. On the one hand, it's hard to deny the positive effect of blogs in discussing mental health. From a young age I suffered with anxiety and it wasn't something that was spoken about. I truly believe that if I had been able to just read a blog and understand that I wasn't alone, then I would have found help sooner and my teenage years would have been a whole lot easier. However I do agree that in some cases, bloggers may be doing more harm than good, by providing advice that they may not be qualified to give. For instance, I have no problem being open about my past mental health issues but I would seriously think twice before I wrote about my own experiences in the form of offering advice to other (possibly impressionable) people.

    I think it's sad but inevitable that with this increased openness about mental illness, some will trivialise its importance - retailers, the media, perhaps even a few bloggers - but we need more discussions like this to make sure we improve the way that we talk about mental health. Thank you for writing such a well judged post!

    Monica
    Books & Novelties

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  14. I'd never thought about this before. I agree completely now I have though. I suffer from pretty bad anxiety, so to hear about those throw pillows does annoy me quite a bit. People have a hard enough time understanding what it is without companies making fun of it. Amazing post.

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  15. A very well written post. It really annoys me when mental health is not taken seriously. How can any company think it is acceptable to make fun of an illness. I have had depression, anxiety for over 20 years, I also have an eating disorder as well. It is no laughing matter to have these illnesses. How can mental health be taken seriously when people make fun of it.
    You bring up some very good points about how it now seems to be fashionable to have a mental illness. There needs to be more understanding of depression and anxiety. But it does not need to be made into the latest craze for people to have.
    Thank you again for writing this post.

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  16. I often have feelings of anxiety but I don't class myself as somebody who has an anxiety disorder. I think that for some reason labelling a very normal reaction or emotion as a disorder has become the cool thing to do. I think it could then turn into the real deal in the way that you have written. 100% agree with your post.

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  17. I completely see the validity of your concern. As someone who's battled depression on and off for about 5 years now, I find that a relapse is easily sparked when talking it out with a close friend who also has depression that is experiencing a rough patch. And when reading a post addressing problems by a blogger than you've closely befriended may always spark another relapse for you.

    This reminds me of a Buzzfeed listicle that came out recently, right after Robin Williams' suicide. It was a list that compiled all posts from popular illustrative bloggers that address their struggle with depression/anxiety, like it was the one thing that tied them together. And the fact that it made it onto Buzzfeed like other trendy things have, worries me as well.

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  18. Your hypothetical scenario about the girl manipulating her mum so she can be like some fashion blogger is fairly stigmatising. Most discrimination I have come up against is based on this "making things up" myth.

    If someone feels that they need that attention they probably aren't doing too good anyway.

    I've worked in fashion and now I work in mental health. My problems were seen as a weakness for sure. There was no culture of "quirky mental illness".

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    1. My phone isn't being my friend here...

      I wanted to add that if one in four supposedly have a mental health problem then you're probably seeing a lot of people joining in and relating and not bring kept in the box society has placed them in for a long time.

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    2. I think you've missed the point entirely in what I was saying here.

      The girl in the example wasn't 'manipulating her mum' - her mum doesn't really have anything to do with it. I'm also not saying that people are 'pretending' to be mentally ill because it's seen as cool, I'm saying they're taking a vested interest in that mental illness, and that fascination & curioisty caused by this unintentional glamorisation of mental illness actually causes them to succumb to it themselves.

      I'm in no doubt that their suffering is legitimate, that's not the question, I just think that for some, or hypothesise that some in the future, if they hadn't read or seen all of this stuff about it in the first place, then they never would've fallen ill to it.

      But I guess that's where the nature/nurture side comes in to play which can be debated for centuries to come.

      I appreciate your opinion, I'm just carefully enunciating that I disagree with you. The glamorisation of self-destructive behaviour is rife on social media, esspecially with things like Tumblr.

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  19. I think this is such an interesting point and very well made. I completely agree with you that bloggers should be able to write about anything they want on their blogs especially if they feel it can deliver a sense of comfort and reassurance to others going through something very similar. And I think the fact that popular bloggers have spoken very openly about mental health, its encouraged others to feel like they can speak out too which is why it's recently become rife through social media. But with blog readers becoming increasingly younger and more influential its hard to do this without guaranteeing it will impact someone in a negative way. Like the example you gave, their are so many famous bloggers out that people aspire to be and it may be completely unintentional to make themselves 'mentally ill' based on what someone else is going through but psychology is a very strange thing. I've been very fortunate to not have suffered with any severe depression or anxiety this far into my life but its a subject very very close to home for me as I was in a relationship with someone for 3 years who really struggled with severe depression & anxiety and around the same time my mum was also battling the same thing. So sometimes I'm drawn to posts on the subject by my curiosity as to how other people have dealt with it. These posts have never influenced me into feeling a certain way but I guess that comes with having the strength and confidence to be your own person and know who you are in a way. As for fashion retailers glamourising it as something to be desired, that's totally irresponsible and not what was intended by people speaking out about it. Its gone from something which should be a positive thing to something which may have very negative implications particularly on young girls. This is definitely a point which should be raised more if the relationship between social media and depression and anxiety is to be positive.

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  20. I believe the whole thing is a catch 22. Speaking about it will obviously trigger things in people they never assumed were there and not talking about it doesn't bring enough light to a topic people might be struggling with that they don't quite understand. I suppose the way we deal with it is HOW we talk about it. Romanticising it is not the route to go down, companies embossing items with phrases that make any from of mental illness/ health issue 'cool' or 'funny' is detrimental. It's also as if they are picking out illnesses that are 'popular' you don't see them making cushions for 'I have IBS, it's really great not being able to eat or drink things because I shit myself' or coasters that read 'Put your tea here because I have OCD.'

    A few days ago I wrote a post about how difficult I was finding it not being able to catch for a baby, it helped me feel better. I wanted it to help others that might be in the same position to feel less alone. It's so difficult being in a position where you may influence thousands of people, I think if you are in a position where people are listening to your every word and taking it as gospel...you should really stand back and think 'Is this the right thing to do or say'. But people get clouded with fame and money and stigma and I suppose it becomes overwhelming and deeply pressured so you try and show a bit of vulnerability. But sometimes, as you say some people aren't 'Just like you' but they might want to be, because that's who is popular at the time.

    We will forever be influenced by trends and popular movements, I think we as bloggers and influencers need to remember that mental health problems and disorders aren't seasonal...they're usually for life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've really hit it nail on what I was trying to get at - it really is a catch 22. These are some incredibly important things that young people need to be made aware of, if they do suffer then they'll know they're not alone/how to get out of it, and if they don't suffer then they can become more aware and spot the warning signs in others.

      I think what essentially I wanted to highlight in this post and the example was more about the dangerous cliff we seem to be on. Right now I firmly believe talking about mental health on blogs is nothing but positive, but if more and more brands seem to think it's okay to capitolise on this, then there's going to be a whole host of problems.

      And in some ways I do think kids are quick to self-diagnose themselves with the same issues as what is prevalent, just like I can remember being young and every single kid with a cold was suddenly screaming running round the playground saying they'd got swine flu. But convincing yourself you have swine flue is going to actually give you it, whereas convincing yourself you have depression most likely will.

      Thanks for reading and your insightful comment x

      Delete
  21. Hmm...I don't know what to think about all of this?
    I have suffered from extreme depression to the point of attempted suicide, harming myself, severe anxiety disorder, I was agoraphobic for two years...(all for a multitude of reasons; bullying, I was stalked, sexual assault, losing all, and I mean ALL, of my friends...) I spoke out about it on my own blog, but my post was more a 'stop stigmatising and romanticising mental health' message. Because I've seen so many of those 'anonymous' accounts on Twitter claiming to have these disorders - I don't doubt them at all! I'd like to point that out. - But they really really do play it up, and they post about their 'thinspiration' and how they cut and stuff, with pictures of their scars, and other things which basically encourage the behaviour to their followers! SO many people look up to them, calling them an 'inspiration'!!! I think that they are perhaps being brainwashed by these accounts made by these obviously already skinny and ridiculously pretty girls, who are making out like having these illnesses is 'beautiful' and 'cool' and that having them will also make you beautiful and skinny.
    Well, no, it does not! It ruined my life for so long. I'll never get rid of it, and it sickens me seeing these things.
    I haven't seen the items of clothing you're referring to, although I did see a t-shirt some time ago with a Barbie doll picture on it, and '#thinspo'. Disgusting! What kind of message is that sending to young girls!?
    My husband is a cognitive behavioural therapist and has also suffered mental illnesses himself, and he is utterly disgusted too.

    I'm not so sure that regular bloggers are the reason why teens do this, unless it's some of the bigger YouTube personalities which are unknowingly having an influence? They're all these beautiful popular girls too, and so many kids aspire to be like them, so if they talk about having anxiety etc, then I get why they might be a cause for concern. (Not at FAULT, per se, just...An influence?)

    No way would I try and romanticise my illnesses though. I see them as a hardship that I suffer every day with.
    I don't like being called 'inspiring' for it. I'm not. I still have a long way to go...
    On the other hand, I completely support anyone who speaks out about it like I did. It is tough, and I know how emotional I got when I was typing it. It is very personal and difficult, delving into the deepest, darkest parts of your life in public.
    I would prefer if other bloggers, when talking about their experiences, could maybe be careful to point out that a mental illness is just that - an illness.
    It's very draining, it's not beautiful or cute or cool.
    I really hate the stigma that surrounds mental health. Personally, my post's message was to stop the stigma and romanticising, and raise awareness for what it truly is and what it can do to you, and that it needs to stop being seen as a good thing.

    Hope I've made sense here? Sorry for the long comment. x

    ReplyDelete
  22. From first-hand experience I can tell that something similar happened to and that was even before the retailers began 'branding' mental illnesses. When I was younger, I had a weak personality and every single thing influenced me, so even reading a sad post put me in that mind state. I agree with you that retailers should not commercialize those things because not everyone reads blogs but almost every single person shops and the influence on a brain of someone who isn't quite shaped yet is huge.
    Also, I love your example. It was on point and heartbreaking.

    ReplyDelete
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