Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, Kylie Jenner, Cheryl Cole, Liam Payne, Little Mix Perrie Edwards, Big Sean, Chris Hemsworth… they all report suffering from anxiety. When I was a teenager, I knew my friends wouldn’t understand me saying I’m petrified each time they don’t wait outside my class for me. They wouldn’t get the countless scenarios I played of me lost in school unable to find them. Or the restlessness I suffered worrying about a class presentation. Who knew 2019 would establish an anxiety trend?
Celebrity stories don’t inspire me
Having experienced anxiety and a panic attack in hospital post-surgery, I appreciate the acceptance to talk about it. I love how I can write about it and know another blogger will read and think “me too”. True stories inspire me – Jennifer Anniston’s incredibly revealing interview after her divorce from Brad Pitt – you knew it took guts to admit how painful that was. Women could relate to the hurt and feeling of knowing a great relationship is over.
Camilla Cabello posted a sexy, immaculately styled photo of herself to Instagram, posting in her caption how nervous she was as a child; Kylie Jenner posted a sunset photo of her curves from behind saying how proud she is to have dealt with her anxiety struggles. She mentions her life isn’t perfect – while posting a perfectly filtered photo. It screams – look how amazing I am, I’m a successful, wealthy women who has hardships too, and I overcome them because I’m that great. It’s like a model with 6-pack abs who’s earnt a fortune from her body writing about the anxiety she feels that her abs will melt away.
Of course, mental health doesn’t fit a particular box and anyone in the world regardless of who they are or what they have can face the disorder. But if you’re going to open up about it, why not tell a story? Why not give deep insight in what you went through? Something beyond ‘I get nervous on stage’ or it’s tough having millions of people watch you. It’s like the definition of anxiety becomes blurred and those severely suffering don’t get true representation. Do we even know the symptoms because it feels any worry gets classified?
The anxiety trend – fetish and romance
An article on Healthyplace.com, talks about social media creating a confused, mental illness stigma. Typical “fallen hero images” – think quotes about how depressed people are really the strongest – ignore how the illness works. Why is anxiety and depression now okay but borderline personality disorder and multiple personality disorder are kept in the dark. I know a smaller percentage of people suffer yet all mental health issues deserve a voice.
The more memes and casual conversation, the more uneducated society feels. How many people say they have OCD due to over washing their hands and over-organising? Celebrities and influencers are not empowering or improving mental health. There’s still an idea that minor cases are okay – anything more and a person’s ‘crazy’ or dangerous. Why do the media love branding terrorists as evil and teen shooters as mentally troubled? We’re not addressing the other side; there’s locked doors not opening.
Part of Marilyn Monroe’s appeal is the sadness and troubled soul she had. I latched on to her story; I devoured documentaries and listed all the ways we related. Because sometimes I wonder if I’ve felt happiness before. I use poetry to find solace too – I feel no one ‘gets’ who I am and that’s a lonely feeling. I don’t think Monroe helped me though, she put a blanket over my tears and made my discomfort meaningful – we’re two souls destined to look one way to the world while hiding our truth. It’s beautiful because rather than just a pretty face or a nice person, there’s something else. There’s darkness and unique difference. Does that help mental health or popularise the condition?
Anxiety trend moving forward
We need to talk about anxiety without fear. I’m not against people opening up and sharing their stories – I wish the world gave each individual a platform to express their thoughts. Nevertheless, I equally wish we stop putting an aesthetically pleasing bow on anxiety. As Mashable discusses, companies such as @thesadsocietyofficial put glamour and ease on a harsh reality by creating cute necklaces and clothes supposedly empowering. There’s no reality for people needing relatable content.
Social media is a hub for self-diagnosing. What happens when you read an ‘inspirational’ message for two minutes, and then go back offline where telling yourself you’re brave doesn’t fix things? It’s cool to admit you’re not going out on a weekend, you’re sad and artsy – you don’t have many friends and that means you have less people to trust. I find it so easy to talk about my sad past and share my problems. Yet it’s difficult to pen a post or a poem dedicated to my happiness and my great qualities.
At the same time, it’s difficult to post an ‘ugly’, sad photo – I’d hate to capture myself crying. And it’s easy to post myself filtered and made up. To relate to others and look inspirational, do you have to have blues? Or can you share how incredible your life is guilt free and unaware of boasting? Do you believe in the anxiety trend?