Romanticizing depression

By Cheyenne Harbison - Early College intern
Cheyenne Harbison -

As I mentioned in my last column, part of my thesis for the research paper on social media’s effects on mental illness is that mental illness gets romanticized. The Merriam-Webster definition of romanticize is “to think about or describe something as being better or more attractive or interesting than it really is.”What I wanted to accomplish in this week’s column was bringing to light the darker, and more realistic, side of the mental illness that is depression.

The general public doesn’t seem to understand that a mental illness is as real as any physical illness. While it may be true that depression is all in your head, by the same token a broken bone is all in whatever limb is broken. Often people are told when they’re having a depression to “Just get up and do something, you’ll feel better,” but it’s not always that simple a fix. Depression is a never-ending battle with yourself. It’s fighting the negative thoughts in your mind telling you that you’re worthless, that you’d be better off dead, and so many other things. It’s not wanting to get out of bed or do anything, but forcing yourself to anyway because there’s things that have to be done like going to school or to work. Depression is not fun and it is not beautiful. It ruins your life and the lives of those around you.

Tumblr has a really bad reputation for romanticizing mental illness. I was reading this article from The Atlantic entitled “Social Media Is Redefining ‘Depression’” and it talked about all the groups, tags, pictures, etc. that were posted on the site. The depression sides of Tumblr have even gotten so bad that when you search for depression as a tag, there’s a disclaimer telling the user to seek help if they or someone they know is suffering from depression. There are so many black and white pictures posted, not just on Tumblr but other places as well, that show self-harm or crying people with beautiful quotes on them. Depression has gotten to a point that it’s seen as something that makes you beautiful, dark, and mysterious. Some people have even been quoted as saying they have “beautiful suffering” instead of depression. There is nothing beautiful about hating yourself. There is nothing beautiful about wanting to die. This delusional sentiment needs to be taken out of your vocabulary.

I wanted to take this opportunity to also share with you an “I Am” style poem that I wrote at one point that I believe fully shows the reality of depression:

I am Depression.

I wonder how long we’ll lie in bed today.

I hear your family asking what’s wrong with you.

I see your dog scratching at the door because you no longer play with him.

I want to ruin your life.

I am Depression.

I have you pretend you’re okay.

I feel like death and despair.

I touch the lives of everyone around you.

I worry that you’ll medicate me.

I cry about everything.

I am Depression.

I understand that I’m just in your head.

I tell you that you’ll never be good enough.

I give you dreams of nothing but nightmares and destruction.

I try to make you feel worthless and defeated.

I hope that you will die.

I am Depression.

I hope this column helped clear up the reality of depression and took off the romanticized blinders that social media may have put on you. However, I do feel obligated to remind you that if you or anyone you know have major issues with depression to seek out medication or a trusted therapist. The Suicide Hotline is also available to help 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1 if you’re a veteran) or, if you’d prefer not to physically talk to someone, text “Go” to 741-741. Until next time, have a good week and stay safe.

By Cheyenne Harbison

Early College intern

Cheyenne Harbison Harbison