Let us all be real for a second. Mental health is a thing. We all talk about it. We all think about it. We all are taught to be observant, to know the signs and to perform self care. I know what some of you may already be thinking: ‘What the hell is this depressing article doing in the Humor section, which has historically been filled with rainbows and sunshine and witty pop culture references?!” The thing is, dealing with mental health issues is #relatable. Echoing the sentiment of that weirdly attractive soccer coach in “She’s the Man”, depression does not discriminate based on gender. It does not distinguish race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. Rather, it is indiscriminate in its choosing. Depression and anxiety are as prevalent at U.Va. as crop tops and Adidas are on third floor Trin. Therefore, with the Humor section being as #relevant as it is, I find it perfectly appropriate to write the remainder of this article as honestly as if I were FaceTiming my therapist.
Whether we care to acknowledge it or not, mental health has a confirmed place in current humor. Let me provide you with a few examples! ‘Kms’ is my most frequently used acronym, ironically right up there with ‘lol’ and ‘omgiatp’ (For all you plebs out there who are not familiar with the latter, it translates to, ‘Oh my god I’m about to pee.’). Do not even try to tell me you can seriously read, ‘Hello, darkness, my old friend,’ without singing that sweet, sweet melody. No, nothing? This ought to do it: blink twice if you yourself or someone you know has used a form of the phrase “surviving not thriving” in speech or on social media within the last 72 hours. Okay, you get it. Tropes relating to mental health and a lack thereof have an undeniably palpable presence in our culture. So why did the title of this article make you semi-uncomfortable?
For me, there are two boxes in life. In one box go all the things that make me mentally happy: chocolate, hot showers, getting over four hours of sleep, abiding by the hobbit eating schedule. In the other box go all things that promote my academic wellbeing: coffee, short showers, staying up late to study, eating my own arm because it is fast and accessible. While these boxes are not entirely unconnected — surprisingly, studies have shown that closing both eyes at the same time for more than three hours helps both improve information recall and promote happiness — a lot of the time it feels like they are mutually exclusive. Go to bed at 11 p.m. instead of staying up until 3 a.m. reading for class? I don’t have time for that. Give myself a 30-minute nap/break? Nope, not happening either. Go grocery shopping and cook myself a well-balanced, satisfying meal? Bish, do I look like I am made of time?
Whether or not you are hip to ‘elevensies,’ this analogy has to resonate with you on some level of your being. Yes, some of you may be weird and capable of getting more than 10 hours of sleep per day. And yes, there is an off chance that I am entirely alone in my struggle, floundering in a sea of perfect hoomans who cook and clean and remember to brush their hair and put on a bra before class. But, seriously? I know I am not. I write this for all you imperfectly perfect creatures. To break the stigma. After all, if mental health is so gosh darn relatable and so far-reaching in its impact, why does the stigma even exist? Hit me up because I would genuinely like to know why it is not always okay to gush about my ride or die, who just also happens to be my professionally trained therapist.