Mental health should not be normalized

Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief

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The first time I ever experienced a panic attack, I was 17. My mom rushed me to the emergency room because she thought I was dying.

That was the first time I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

The first thing the nurse said to me after the diagnosis was, “Don’t worry, you’re not alone.”

Not long after that, I experienced my first depressive episode at 17. I was a happy kid, I had a good family and a good life. There was no evident reason why I suddenly began isolating myself, why my moods changed at the drop of a hat and why I was always on the verge of tears.

But that’s exactly what was happening. When I confided in my friends, the only thing they said to me was, “Don’t worry, you’re not alone.”

I experienced another depressive period during the spring semester of my sophomore year at UW-Whitewater. I stopped going to class, I laid in bed for 20 out of 24 hours a day. I binge watched 8 seasons of “Shameless” in three weeks because that was the only thing I felt I could handle.

My roommate at the time, trying her best to help said, “Don’t worry, you’re not alone.”

That period carried long into the summer, marking the worst depression I’d ever experienced.

I  stayed in bed, clutching my dog Olive, because she was the only thing that brought me a little bit of happiness. Some days, I didn’t even watch TV. I just started at my ceiling waiting for the day to end.

When I finally sought help, my therapist said, “Don’t worry, you’re not alone.”

Maybe it’s true that I’m not the only one who experienced depression and anxiety. But I can’t help being annoyed anytime someone says those words to me.

For one, it instantly invalidates how I am feeling. It says that my mental health isn’t anything special or important. Worst of all, it normalizes an unhealthy mental state. It gives people who don’t understand an easy way to sympathize without acknowledging just how big a part of our society this is.

I would never wish how I felt on my worst enemy, yet when I shared my feelings everyone acted like it was the most normal feeling in the world.

Everyone experiences depression differently, and everyone’s individual symptoms matter and are important. This is something that should never be normalized.

By remembering that everyone is different in their mental health, we can remember that someone feeling hopeless and sad or even feeling like they want to end their life should never be a normal part of our society.