If there’s one thing social media has done, it’s made mental illness seem like a trend. People come online to share their stories and suddenly everyone is self-diagnosing themselves to “fit in.” The most targeted among them is Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
As someone who has GAD, it really drives me crazy to hear people throw around the words “my anxiety” like they’re nothing. Sure, everyone gets a little anxious about certain stressful things in our lives, like exams. But it doesn’t mean that everyone has diagnosed anxiety. Getting anxious for an exam is not the same thing as being anxious for absolutely no reason. People with GAD feel anxious constantly without knowing why.
When people throw the term around loosely, it makes it seem like GAD actually isn’t that bad when it really is. I remember sitting in class when suddenly my palms would get sweaty, my heart would start to race, and I’d feel horribly nauseous. I had absolutely no idea why I was feeling that way.
But that’s the reality of GAD. It isn’t some trend on TikTok or Twitter, or something every person has. And it certainly can be more serious than people make it out to be.
So, why have people online made it seem like a trend? It could be the constant desire we have to fit in with others. Or it could simply be the desire for attention. Whatever the reason, it’s not okay.
By making GAD “trendy,” people who actually suffer from the illness will be less likely to come out with their stories. I didn’t want to talk about my anxiety because I feared people would think I was being dramatic, since GAD is often portrayed by those who don’t have it as different than what it actually is.
GAD will never be a trend, and neither will any other mental illness. These are things real people suffer from on a day-to-day basis. I hope that one day, only the people who truly suffer from these illnesses will talk about them so awareness can be spread and more people with the illness will be encouraged to speak up.