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Torturing the tortured souls

Group%2C+help%2C+proud.
Group, help, proud.

Group, help, proud.

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BillionPhotos.com - Fotolia

Group, help, proud.

Jared Aponte, Staff Writer

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These days it seems the epitome of Internet humor is posting ironic memes about having crippling depression while battling fidget spinners like BeyBlades and while, yes, occasionally these jokes are funny, most times they are just toxic and depressing. And no, not in the “funny meme” way, in the “mental anguish is treated like a joke and depressed people who actually need help are laughed off” kinda way.

In more straightforward terms: mentally ill people can’t get help for their suicidal thoughts because everyone else wants to die too.

For a few years now making light of the daily struggles of the mentally ill has been all the rage. Whether it be taking tasteless potshots at autistic people, trivializing depressive mood disorder, or turning devices made for neurally-divergent people like fidget tools and stim videos into something “cringe-y”, neurotypical people seem to — for lack of a better word — appropriate or mock anything that was made specifically for people with some form of mental illness.

While a recent example of this would be fidget spinners and how they’ve been turned into an embarrassing item, a better example would be service dogs and people pretending their dogs are service dogs.

Service dogs, or dogs that have been trained to help people with disabilities like visual or auditory impairment, mental illness, or seizure disorder, have been becoming banned in more and more places due to the influx of people without any form of impairment throwing a vest on their ill-mannered pets and calling them Emotional Support dogs.

Not only is doing this irresponsible, it’s also incredibly selfish.

If a pet branded as a service dog gets wild in a restaurant and the owner bans service dogs because of that then what happens to the next person to come through there with an actual service dog?

That’s exactly what has been happening with a lot of other things mentally ill people need or use frequently like fidget spinners and fidget cubes, which are now not being allowed in some schools around the country. Even beside small things like spinners and weighted blankets, neurotypical people have even managed to ruin medicine for people with mental disorders.

Because of popularity and the widespread abuse of prescription medications like Xanax and Adderall, which treat anxiety and impulse control respectively, have become harder to get prescriptions for and have had huge hikes in prices meaning that as a person who needs these medications to function normally day-to-day, I now need to pay 67+ dollars for my Adderall prescription because Chad feels the need to illegally take ADHD meds so he can study for his math final.

Similarly this same trend of taking something that wasn’t meant for you and sharing it with a larger audience of people that it wasn’t for is what lead to the illegalization of MDMA (otherwise known as “Ecstasy”).

MDMA was first synthesized in Germany in 1912 and was promptly forgotten until after World War II when the US Army and CIA were researching methods of espionage and mind-control where it was tested on animals but didn’t yield any desirable results. The drug made a reappearance in the scientific scene during the 1970s where it gained a lot of popularity and by the early 80s it was being used by thousands of private psychotherapists as a part of their clinical practice.

During a study of MDA-assisted psychotherapy, data showed that there were significant reductions in patients’ scores on the psychometric assessments they were given measuring depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive traits and measures evaluating the sense of well-being and self-actualization also were encouraging. And although some of the patients were not as responsive as others, there were no observations that suggested that the condition of any of these patients had worsened. MDA was also said to be effective in relationship therapy because of the feelings of closeness and intense happiness it promotes.

MDMA use was keep discreet until the San Francisco Chronicle published an article labeling it “The Yuppie Psychedelic” in June of 1984 which was followed by a string of articles by other news outlets which lead to it’s rise in popularity and subsequent transformation from therapy medication to “party drug”.

Because of it had “no legitimate medical use or manufacturer” and a “high potential for abuse”, MDMA was illegalized in 1985.

The most painful thing about the appropriation of things made for the mentally ill is the general public’s disdain for people who are neurally divergent that runs parallel.

Most of this disdain and general ignorance stems from the rise of “Cringe” Culture and widespread irony, or in short, Internet memes.

Think about how often you see mental illness used as the brunt of a joke. It’s more common than it should be and it’s everywhere, from television sitcoms to Instagram feeds. Memes on Instagram that poke fun at the “Special Ed kid” or talk about ironically wanting to commit suicide are so common that the “autism” hashtag is consistently flooded with abrasive and needlessly vulgar memes that sometimes don’t even have anything to do with Autism. It has hit a point that a second autism hashtag was created by autistic people called “actual autism”.

Think about that.

A group of people were forced to create another hashtag because the original one that they used to share encouraging posts relating to their disorder was taken over by people who posted pictures and videos bashing their very existence as a joke.

Not all of the public negligence toward the mentally ill is as straightforward as this though.

If you’ve been on social media for more than a minute in the last year or so, chances are you’ve probably seen someone saying they want to die. This widespread “ironic” or pseudo depression is possibly the most destructive force against people with mental illness, especially those with depression. This is because all the suicidal “jokes” drown out the voices of those who actually need help.

Every time someone makes a joke about having “crippling depression” or wanting to die two things happen: the seriousness behind the word “depression” becomes more diminished and someone with depressive mood disorder overhears this, thinks that it’s normal to want to end your own life, and becomes more reluctant to seek help.

Actual people with depression are dying because of the stale humor of others.

And although I know an article on the Internet won’t change the way people treat mentally ill people, I truly hope that people will at the very least be more conscious of their actions no matter how subtle.

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Torturing the tortured souls