What Lili Reinhart's Tweet Got Wrong About Depression
In her tweet, actress Lili Reinhart stated, “Your mental health should be your priority. Don’t forget that. This is your life.. and you’ve only got one. So don’t waste it by being sad.”
Your mental health should be your priority. Don't forget that. This is your life.. and you've only got one. So don't waste it by being sad
— Lili Reinhart (@lilireinhart) May 13, 2017
While I understand the intention of this message was meant to be uplifting, it is extremely demeaning and disheartening to those who have depression.
I have battled depression for the majority of my life, and I have always tried to help others like me through what can sometimes seem like an unbearable life. However, when attempting to help others, you must first reflect on your words and be sure your comments are not harmful. While it is true that someone’s mental health should be at the very top of their priority list, it is not as simple as it may seem to overcome depression or other mental illness. Solely stating that you should not “waste [your life] by being sad” could potentially make a person who battles depression feel that their life is meaningless and they do not matter to the greater society. Of course, these feelings are not healthy and could exacerbate their illness.
As someone who knows firsthand the trials of raising awareness for depression, I feel that Reinhart’s comment is very harmful and is not inspiring to those of us who are struggling. We should not have to be told not to waste our lives, because that is not at all what we are doing. Our feelings of sadness are valid and should not be undermined, as they are in this comment. Depression is a chronic illness, so patients with depression should receive the same support as those who battle any other illness. In other words, the “get over it and move on” attitude simply isn’t sufficient. We deserve better.
In sum, I wish that Lili Reinhart, as well as so many others before her, would have carefully considered the effects of their words before posting to such a large social media platform. While I am in no way bashing Reinhart, I am expressing my concern for those who are affected by her tweet as well as the stigma surrounding mental illness. Phrasing matters. Be there to support your peers who are fighting depression, as opposed to instructing them to suck it up and live their lives. With your support, we can and will end the stigma.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Screenshot via Lili Reinhart Twitter