HOW ANXIETY IS BECOMING ROMANTICIZED

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There's an interesting phenomenon I've noticed occurring in modern culture. Be it on social media or in real life, there is this resurgence of people speaking up about their anxiety and negative feelings. Now, I'd typically say that this is a great thing, as repressing emotions never leads to any good. Yet, I can see from the way people treat these emotions or mental issues that they're more so glorifying it, then just speaking up about it.

Let me explain what I mean by "modern culture". Thanks to outlets such as Tumblr and Twitter, it’s incredibly common to see others talk about their mental issues and their struggles. Great. What we are also seeing is this subculture that idealizes having these mental issues.

For example, Yung Lean and the Sad Boys. If you haven't heard of him, Yung Lean is a 21-year-old Swedish rapper who has garnered a lot of viral attention for his music online. He is a member of the music crew Sad Boys, all of whom are perpetrators of marketing mental illnesses. Just by looking at their merch, you can see shirts with the lettering "useless" and hoodies implying having a loose screw.

Even on the topic of clothing, it’s becoming more and more common to see streetwear brands having similar designs. "Misery" written across t-shirts in blood red lettering and sweaters with "anxiety" written along the sides, letting you literally wear your emotions on your sleeve.

Thanks to these mediums of music and clothing being so accessible online, that's where we see the development of the subculture. Kids online tweeting about how many times they've cried today. Artists and mainstream media figures being revered for how bad their mental issues are. Again, I'm not saying it's a bad thing to be honest about your emotions, what I'm getting at is: no one is being helped if we're only acknowledging the problem and not the solution.

One of the previous articles I'd written for Labor was on the musician Lil Peep. He had mental issues and constantly tried to handle them by self-medicating and abusing drugs. He also had a huge fan base, who followed his every move online and they saw him descend deeper into a darker mental state. Everyone knew of his issues since he was very vocal about them, yet his fan base never took the steps to get him some help. He sadly passed away from a drug overdose. The way the fans followed this artist until his passing, to me, is the problem.

I think using social media and music to shed light on mental illnesses is a great thing. There's still a stigma in modern culture where people think anyone suffering from anxiety or a mental illness is faking it. But there have been positives that have come from using these tools, such as Logic's song "1-800-273-8255." The existence of this song alone has brought attention to how common mental problems are and his VMA performance brought it to even more mainstream light. To me, using opportunities like that to get more people to seek help is the solution.

I myself have suffered through terrible anxiety and it’s still something I deal with to this day. I suffered panic attacks, stomach issues, and migraines just from the thought of even trying to work on a school project. Thank God, I had an amazing support group of friends and family who helped me manage with my anxiety whenever it would get bad, so I feel for anyone going through the same. Sharing your issues of stress or pressure is always a help, but in no way, can I agree with viewing anxiety as a good thing.