Why we need to stop romanticizing mental disorders

An analysis on the romanticization of mental disorders

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To simplify what many television shows and novels portray, mental disorders are deemed as ‘tragic’ and ‘beautiful’. From Romeo and Juliet to the controversial show 13 Reasons Why mental disorders are romanticized to the extent that it is even considered desirable in our current society. To the impressionable minds of many teenagers, this has been a critical problem as the National Alliance on Mental Illness has stated that one out of five teens have experienced a severe mental disorder at some point of their life. So, what exactly do people with mental disorders go through every day? In addition to this, what are a few ways the media has mistakenly portrayed mental disorders as desirable in any aspect?

Having a mental illness could feel like losing yourself as former personality and character traits may not be as prevalent. One of the arguably worst parts of having a mental illness is personally witnessing your body and mind deteriorate, but not having the complete control to prevent it from occurring. Often, everyday tasks such as getting out of bed become difficult, and your mood may fluctuate throughout the day. At some severe cases, some end up not being able to get out of bed to the extent that they would only get up to go to the bathroom. Some would even have to quit their job in order to focus on taking care of their mental health. Mental illness becomes a contributing factor to family, financial, academic, and physical health issues. The process to recover from such disorders are long and difficult, and it may take years to completely recover. To summarize, mental illnesses are not desirable in any way whatsoever.

By portraying mental illnesses as desirable, you’re essentially preventing others who actually need help to reach out. In addition, you are causing others to misdiagnose themselves with such disorders. If we constantly normalize and romanticize mental illness, the symptoms that come along with these disorders would not seriously be considered. Actors who depict certain mental disorders are seen as “cute” as these disorders have been simplified to a quirky personality trait. An example of this is Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, someone who has obsessive-compulsive disorder. In effect of such glamorization of mental disorders, Mirror Magazine has stated that 34% of teens have lied about having mental disorders in the past when they did not have any. The primary cause? Attention. From this, we can see how the glamorization of such disorders leads impressionable minds to want to have the same level of attention as their favorite idols in our current media.

In the year 2018, as rates of teens with mental disorders skyrocket, it’s extremely important to remind ourselves of the amount of suffering people with mental disorders go through on a daily basis. To invalidate such struggles through romanticization can potentially cause fatal consequences and should be stopped. So the next time you see a quote on Instagram about how tragic and beautiful depression is, scroll right past it and keep in mind of the lasting effects of the romanticization of mental disorders.

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


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