Normalization

There is something weighing heavy on my heart.

For the past hour or so I have been debating whether or not to write this post. I am terrified of the comments I am going to receive and the judgment that I may endure, but here it goes.

We need to stop normalizing mental illness.

My mom and her whole family have OCD. Growing up, I only ever knew OCD as a severe illness that can affect someone’s entire life. An illness that can consume a person’s entire thought process so much so that it could impair their ability to function day to day. But my children will only know OCD as someone wanting their house to be tidy.

I have clinical depression. Depression to me is an ongoing battle. I don’t get it sometimes, it doesn’t go away. I fight to get through it every single day. I know it as a severe mental illness that has the ability to stop someone’s life. But my children will only know it as being really sad sometimes, and then getting over it.

Don’t get me wrong. I am so happy people are talking about mental health. I am so happy that people are finding their voices and discussing their issues. I am not happy, however, that these diseases are turning into a thing that everyone has, something that can go away if you do enough inner work. They aren’t.

Everyone gets depressed, but not everyone has depression. What is the difference? The difference is when you are going through a hard time, say a death of a loved one, and you find it hard to function. You are so sad that all you want to do is lay in bed all day, but after a few months you are able to pick yourself up and go back to a normal routine, you were depressed. When you have depression you feel like that everyday. Nothing even remotely bad in your life could be happening, but you cannot wake up in the morning. Throughout the day all you want is to lie down, and you fight that every, single day. THAT is depression.

Do you see the difference?

Everyone has something that they are obsessed about. Whether it is keeping their house cluttered or keeping it cleaned, maybe it is a specific room that always has to be a certain way. Those are OCD tendencies, and everyone has them. But not everyone has OCD. If those thoughts are not all consuming, if they do not make you want to do your rituals over and over then you don’t have OCD, and you have to stop saying it as if it is this thing that you can get sometimes.

Same things goes for being anxious versus having anxiety. I get anxious sometimes, but I don’t have anxiety. I am anxious when things aren’t going well, or when I feel like I have a lot to do in a day, but I don’t feel like that forever. I complete the thing that makes me anxious and then I feel better. People with anxiety feel anxious all the time. No matter if there is good or bad going on their lives, they are anxious. Do you understand the difference?

I don’t want people to think that I am berating them for feeling a certain way, because I certainly am not. I am, however, asking people to stop normalizing something that is not normal. It IS normal to be depressed or anxious sometimes, it is not normal for you feel like that every day. Wording is so important. If you are depressed say you are depressed not that you have depression. If you are anxious say you are anxious not that you have anxiety. These may seem like small changes, but for the people who are suffering they can mean everything.

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