The Mental Health Meme That Made Me Say 'Me'
An image of two Kermit the Frogs pops up on my Facebook feed. One is cloaked, with his face partially covered. Below them reads:
Me: My friend hasn’t messaged me back. They’re probably busy.
My mind: They either don’t like you anymore or they’re dead.
This, to me, is funny.
Now let me make it clear — there is nothing funny about mental illness. There is nothing funny about the symptoms, the stigma, the mocking from ignorant people. There is nothing funny about dealing with something that is still underrepresented, misunderstood and discriminated against. There is nothing funny about the pain, the terrible thoughts, the feeling of a loneliness and despair so deep its indescribable to someone without mental illness. There is nothing funny about this.
But there sure is something funny about memes.
I myself have a form of bipolar and OCD. I don’t find the conditions funny. When I am so lost in that depression that I feel I could suffocate, I’m not laughing.
When I try my best to cope with my self-destructive thoughts and try to find my way to a reason to carry on, I’m not laughing. When I feel up and ready to take on the world, when I talk so much I find it hard to catch my breath, I’m not laughing inside. When I can’t relax because I haven’t performed my important and calming rituals, I’m not laughing. When invasive thoughts barge their way into my mind, disturbing thoughts that make me fear for my sanity, I’m not laughing.
But when that Kermit the Frog meme appears? I’m laughing.
I’m laughing because it’s good to laugh. I’m laughing because it’s relatable. I’m laughing because it’s understandable, and I’m laughing because it doesn’t make me feel so bad. I feel like there is a lighter side to my situation. I feel like it’s not so bad. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
There are so, so many memes out there. My goodness are there memes. For every possible mental illness, physical illness, feeling, emotion, thought. Every situation, no matter how obscure. I’m going to go ahead and say it — I predict that by 2020, there’s going to be more memes than porn. I’m keen for 2020.
The internet is absolutely chock full of them. You’ll see them on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest. They are everywhere. Your grandma knows about memes, that’s how far reaching they are. I swear, go ask her. She’ll tell you about one she saw on a billboard.
When a fuzzy, overlayed image of a shocked looking anime character with the words, “when that depression hit hard” written over it in Comic Sans appears, I’m laughing. When a dog looks like it’s having an existential crisis, I’m laughing. When there is an over-saturated image of a skeleton that says, “me internally literally n emotionally,” I’m laughing. When there is an image of a man looking devastated on a beach letting sand run through his hand that says, “trying to have a good time at the beach but ur OCD says u gotta count the grains first,” I’m laughing. Oh yeah, I’m laughing.
I’m laughing because it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Mental illness is nothing to laugh about — there is nothing funny about it. But to lack a sense of humor about one’s own in life, to me, that may as well be an emotional death sentence. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. It doesn’t have to be loneliness. It doesn’t have to be pain, depression, apathy. It doesn’t have to be lethargy and dark thoughts.
It doesn’t have to be, but unfortunately, sometimes it will be. That sucks. That really, really sucks. I wish it wasn’t so, as I’m sure you do. I wish there was calmness for us all, contentment. I wish there was goodness for us all.
I’m sure you’ve wished for it, too. If not for yourself, you’ve wished it for a loved one, or for all those struggling. Sadly, the wishing won’t work.
Like I said, though, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. It doesn’t have to be. It can be laughter, it can be relating, it can be looking at yourself, recognizing your illness, and laughing at it. It can be all of those things — at least every now and then.
Because hey, we got those sweet, sweet memes.