Mental illness is not your fault

By: Emily Fehrman / Opinion Page Editor

This week, YouTuber Jake Paul tweeted that people have the power to cure anxiety themselves.

Apparently, all you have to do is “let life play out,” “remind yourself to be happy,” “chill your mind out,” “go for a walk,” and “talk to a friend.”

Wow, thank you, Jake, I am cured of my debilitating anxiety. If I could just chill my mind out sometimes that would be fantastic, but that’s not what anxiety is. If it weren’t for being properly medicated I wouldn’t be able to get out of my bed, let alone go outside.

This tweet is just spreading bad information about the disorder, and discouraging people from seeking proper help when they need it, thinking they can just chill and walk it off. It feels a little insulting to those who deal with this daily.

This notion is mainly dangerous to his younger, more impressionable viewers. I’m sure it isn’t his intention to make it seem like it’s their fault that they have anxiety. But that is how many are viewing it on social media.

“Anxiety is created by you” unless you have an anxiety disorder. In that case, it’s your brain tapping into that fight/flight/freeze response during an inappropriate situation. Anxiety doesn’t take into consideration what you want, let alone allow you to have a say in what happens next.

To some, it feels as if they’re dying. An inability to function, like everything, is pointless. Even life itself. Anxiety can be as physical as mental.

Being anxious and having anxiety are not the same. Going for a walk when you’re feeling too anxious to step foot outside of the house isn’t ideal, let alone seem likely to help. If anything, it could make it worse. Trying to find it within yourself to do something, against this deep-rooted gut feeling, is hard to overcome.

The advice of drinking water, going for a walk, and talking to a friend sounds like it would be good advice. Maybe to anyone who doesn’t understand what it’s really like.

There are times where my anxiety is molded tightly together with my depression, making it hard for me to take care of myself at times. Telling me that my friends, whom I love dearly and I know they love me the same in reality, don’t care to have me around at all.

If it were that easy, we’d all be cured and therapists would be out a job. But it’s not that easy, nor will it ever be.

Anxiety is not created by yourself. It is created by your environment. By the traumas you endure. By the people surrounding you. By the experiences you have. Mental illness is not the fault of the sufferer.

Jake Paul later says that people are “clowning” his tweet (that he deleted shortly after posting due to backlash). Those who are supposedly clowning are the ones actually providing good information.

I am exhausted from seeing people give advice about mental health issues they clearly don’t know about, without any research taking place to understand what it does to people who endure it every day.

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