*or The Unsustainability Behind “Don’t Worry Be Happy” Pop Culture

“It’s really hard to describe oneself because I think one lives, very often, in other peoples’ visions.” – Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel is still right about that one and as they say: repetition is the mother of learning. In the first part of “The Sugarcoat”, I toned not being afraid of the shiny finer things in life as long as they don’t overpower the bigger and frankly more important things in life. People my age are increasingly being prescribed with antidepressants whilst they are still in high school and by the time they graduate university, they are on a combination of different pills all against anxiety, depression, insomnia and the list goes on. This alarming reality has been around for a while now and the trend is apparently only growing. So what is behind that?
At the age of seventeen, which frankly wasn’t such a long time ago,  straight A’s never really made a difference to me. Meanwhile many of my friends were striving for that in “Ivy-League”-like high schools. Obviously, the stress level there was high as were the expectations. Not that it wasn’t the case in my high school, but like I said, I didn’t care about straight A’s. One day, one of these friends told me how strange she found that people her age that she knew were increasingly being prescribed with antidepressants and that just because they told their doctor they were stressed out. Just like that, lighweight decisions that were made about a far heavier matter.
A few nights ago, I was watching one of my favourite YouTubers, who described feeling stressed out and sad over a long time, she was literally crying on camera. These kinds of videos demand a lot of strengh in my opinion, especially when you’re a beauty vlogger with a large viewer platform and sometimes reveal what lies beneath the glitter and layers of primers. Meanwhile the girl basically described a vast majority of depression symptoms: feeling helpless, loss of energy etc, all the while stating that she definitely wasn’t depressed. Even when she said the word “depressed”, she put it in quotation marks. She said that she had been to the doctor who said that there was nothing wrong with her physically, but that’s all. What about her mental health? Why hadn’t her doctor given her advice about maybe talking to a psychiatrist or someone else in that field? Obviously I was not there when she had had the conversation with her doctor, all I’m writing here is from the video. In the end she said that she was taking certain steps in her life to imporve the situation. which I think were really good. Sidenote: I am not saying she definitely was depressed, but I did feel as if she did anything to rule that option out of the list.
I believe antidepressants can help you alongside therapy and unlike xanax and other anxiety medication, they do not make you addicted – look it up, it’s true. Yet like I said before, they definitely should not be prescribed with a light hand and I’m sure it can be a challenge to find the right type of medication, as there are so many on the market these days. The same goes with therapy. So why is mental health being tossed to the side like that? Why are there still so many stigmas of mental health and its issues? Meanwhile, it’s as if we’ve lost the meaning behind being happy. It feels as if it means being constantly “over the moon” or “on a high”. When you are not on that high, on may start to wonder what is wrong, when actually nothing is. Meanwhile, having a bad day or a bad week is okay. It’s okay to be sad. You can’t be over the moon all the time, just as you can’t be in love for a very long time, because it affects your brain similarly as a strong substance abuse.
It’s as if we were taught that being sad is not acceptable because “life is too short” and “hakuna matata”. Behind “only good vibes” quotes, it’s as if negative emotions were not accepted. It’s as if depression and other mental health issues existed, but they do so in a land far far away, at least that is how I felt the approach was in high school. When I’m going through a rough patch, I just tell myself “It will be better in two weeks” or “If you are going through hell, just keep going”. Although it doesn’t take it away, it helps.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that a positive attitude and not giving up are so important, that finding more reasons to be happy over those to be sad are all a good start. All the while a certain exposure to a specific audiovisual content (you know, all those “hashtag perfect life this” or “hashtag perfect life that”) plus the approach to mental health as “something far away” and the hippyish “only good vibes” lifestyle don’t really help. When you let it get to you, that is where things get extremely unhealthy and delusional.



*About BetterHelp

BetterHelp is an online portal that provides direct-to-consumer access to behavioral health services. The online counseling and therapy services are provided through web-based interaction as well as phone and text communication. Please see this article for further information: 

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