Why are we only OK with mental illness when it’s cute and Tumblr-y?

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Why are we only OK with mental illness when it’s cute and Tumblr-y?

Not all disorders are mild and adorkable

The list of mental disorders, as defined by the DSM and ICD, includes over 450 different definitions.

So why do we only talk about the ones we've deemed "cute"? Why do we never talk about personality disorders?

A long time Tumblr user, there was a point in time when I actually thought it was endearing to suffer from certain mental disorders. Posts about being "OK with a simple life because it's all you can handle," or taking time out of your day to "sit and breathe" flooded my archive. Anxiety was trendy!

Anxiety meant sweaters, and staying in bed, and drinking lots of water and tea. And you know what? Depression didn't seem half bad either! Depression meant rolling up in a cute blanket like a burrito and binge watching movies alone — it meant reminding myself to wear cute socks and do yoga. How bad could it all really be?

And while neither of these illnesses are, in reality, cute at all — they're horrible, crippling disorders to live with — they way social media has normalized through depression memes or cute feel-good photos has made them more accessible.

People have become more open to talking about these disorders — even the really, really bad parts.

But we're not there yet when it comes to so many other disorders.

Take borderline Borderline Personality Disorder, for example

Borderline Personality Disorder is one of the most stigmatized personality disorders. Therapists often refuse to treat patients because they're seen as "manipulative" or as having a tendency to lie and avoid help.

Although it differs from person to person, being Borderline often means emotional instability, emotional impermanence, feelings of worthlessness, impulsivity, and impaired sociality.

Rachael, 21, is professionally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. She told babe a number of therapists have avoided her

"It's really terrifying and terrible to feel so guilty for so many things about yourself," she said, "and then be told you are inherently manipulative, abusive, or unkind."

Rachel was diagnosed her sophomore year of college, after a breakdown where she broke a mirror and tried to swallow a pack of cold medicine. "It wouldn't have killed me, so I don't know what the intent was," she said.

For Rachael, her BPD means nearly debilitating sensitivity, anxiety, and shame. There are days when she says she feels so much she doesn't get out of bed, and other days where she gets physically ill (vomiting, sweats/shaking, etc.) from it all.

'I think one of the hardest parts of BPD is the immense anxiety I feel in telling people about it. It's really, really lonely'

None of Rachael's friends know she suffers from BPD — only her mom and her partner — but she says it's a part of who she is, and she's trying to make sure other's don't define it for her.

And with many people who suffer from personality disorders, keeping it under wraps is the standard. Fear of having friends or family turn against you for it will often keep people from opening up about it, because it's something that never really goes away.

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day but today, the fight continues, and that means being sensitive to all kinds of mental illnesses — not just the ones you feel comfortable talking about.

@carolinephinney

original video by

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