By Hannah Molitor
I have always enjoyed reality television. Most of the time, I care more about the lives of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills than I do about the people in my own life. However, I’ve noticed a serious trend in a lot of reality televisions shows, that has started to bleed over in to actual reality. It seems like every reunion or sit-down heart to heart conversation on T.V., someone drops the A-word. By A-word, I mean Anxiety.
Anxiety has become more of a trendy topic nowadays than it is an actual mental illness. It seems that everyone uses the excuse “I have anxiety” to make up for being nervous, or being upset. People have used the anxiety card so much, that it makes the diagnosed and struggling more hesitant to use it. It’s almost like their rationale is “Well, if everyone else has it, why can’t I?” instead of actually getting diagnosed and dealing with it a healthy way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure some of these reality stars actually suffer from anxiety, but stop glamorizing it and making it harder for those of us who suffer every day.
Before I get deep into discussing anxiety in today’s pop-culture, I want to take a moment to talk about my own anxiety. I know anxiety is a unique mental illness in which no two people suffer exactly the same, and what might bother one person with anxiety might not bother someone else. However, I can almost guarantee, a person who really suffers from anxiety will use it as an excuse as little as possible. I know I personally do not like talking about my anxiety. I do not like using it as an excuse and I do not like really opening up about it.
Just to give you an example, I have actually been writing on Thought Catalog for a while now, but I wrote from a fake profile, because I really wanted to talk about Anxiety and Mental Illness, but I didn’t want anyone to be able to trace it back to me. It was just recently that I made the step to make a profile for myself, because I decided it wasn’t fair to pretend to be someone I’m not.
However, it is really hard for me to see someone who I would’ve never guessed to have anxiety, pull out the anxiety excuse for every uncomfortable situation. I know that people with mental illnesses can be good at keeping hiding them, I know I am, and reality T.V. doesn’t always paint the most accurate picture of someone, but usually someone with anxiety has a good eye for spotting someone with anxiety, and I just don’t see it in some of these people keeping up with the new trend.
People need to stop treating anxiety, or any other mental illness as the next big fashion accessory. Having anxiety is not trendy, it’s a debilitating mental disease, and pretending to have it because it fits in to your sob story does not make it any easier for those of us who suffer every day.
It’s already hard enough to deal with the stigma that comes with having a mental illness, let alone having to feel bad about using it as excuse because it seems like everyone else already is. I also just want to say, I by no means want to invalidate any T.V. personality’s feelings, I’m sure they do feel extremely upset or nervous, but being extremely upset or nervous is not the same as having Anxiety. Anxiety is an extreme feeling of being upset or nervous that you can’t escape, no matter how many times you say that you have anxiety. I also want to add, that I have nothing but respect for those in the spotlight that do suffer from a mental illness, or any illness, and really, I have nothing but respect for anyone that suffers with any sort of illness. But those who use that mental illness as a platform to spread love, support and awareness, not as a trendy new accessory to carry with them.