Is somebody faking their depression if they’re talking about it on social media?
This question seemed to be the common theme when I checked Twitter today. In case you’re not caught up on today’s trending topic, here’s the deal: Kehlani, a 20-year-old pop/R&B singer, allegedly attempted suicide after the internet exploded with rumors that she cheated on basketball player Kyrie Irving with her ex-boyfriend, rapper PARTYNEXTDOOR. Kehlani said that she already broke up with Irving when she reunited with PND. Frankly, whether that’s true or not shouldn’t matter, and it is nobody’s business but theirs. But that didn’t stop people from mercilessly mocking Kehlani on social media and filling every social media site with memes about the ordeal.
According to Kehlani, it was cyber bullying that led to her having “no single wish to see tomorrow.” She posted a now deleted photo on Instagram of her arm hooked up to an IV in a hospital bed, and paired it with a sincere message about how she “wanted to leave this earth” and “never thought [she’d] get to such a low point,” but is grateful for getting a second chance. She credited PND for saving her life.
I’ve seen claims that Kehlani tried to kill herself because “she’s a hoe.” Another Twitter user said that Kehlani was silly to imagine she would end up in heaven if she died. One person wondered, if she’s so depressed, why can’t she just smile? But this comment takes the douchebag cake: “1st u cheat on Kyrie. Then you cheat death?!?! LMFAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO this bitch the ultimate cheater.”
It’s more than a little distressing that these are actual responses to a woman’s alleged suicide attempt.
Look, whether you like Kehlani, dislike Kehlani, or DGAF about Kehlani, it’s tough to deny the fact that this woman likely experienced something traumatic. But has that stopped people from giving her a hard time? Of course not. Why? Because it seems that Kehlani didn’t express her depression in the “right way.” Apparently, posting about your mental health on social media means that you’re probably lying about just to get attention. The logic here is that people who really have depression don’t write about it on social media. People who really have depression keep it to themselves and never speak about it in public.
Please, tell me I’m not the only person who thinks this is an idiotic point of view.
Here’s a fact that many have a hard time understanding: Everyone with mental health issues deals with them differently. Wow! It’s almost like…everyone is an individual or something. Some feel comfortable posting about depression on social media, others don’t; that doesn’t mean that some are faking it and others are legit. The idea that someone has to suffer in silence for their suffering to be real is incredibly distressing. How are we supposed to fight the stigma of mental health disorders when we’re still encouraging people to suffer in silence or else be deemed a nasty attention seeker?
This leads me to my next question: Is attention seeking when you’re suffering from depression really that bad? Is a cry for help or a sincere desire to receive helpful words from others wrong? If that’s one way that someone copes with depression, why get up and arms about it? It’s not hurting anyone; it might just be one of the few things that keeps them hanging on.
These vitriolic, heartless hot takes about the legitimacy of one’s depression says a lot about our lingering discomfort with mental health, and it’s all so self-centered. We don’t want people to write about it because it makes us uncomfortable, it makes us feel as if we have to pay special attention to someone in need, it makes us empathize when we’d rather make jokes and keep it moving. The same people who are having a laugh at Kehlani’s expense might have a friend or family member who has depression or suicidal thoughts, but is too afraid to seek help because they’re worried they won’t be taken seriously. Nobody should feel the need to prioritize avoiding looking like an attention seeker above getting help, ever.
Instead of demonizing people who don’t presenting their depression the way we’d like them to, we should probably stop being jerks and, you know, show some support. How hard can that be?
If you or somebody you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1(800)273-8255, or chat online at suicidepreventionhotline.com.
What do you think about sharing mental health issues on social media? Do we still have a long way to go until we’re able to talk about depression in an open and honest way? Tell us in the comments!