This week, I was pleased to see an article online about Kayley Melissa's video on her absence from YouTube, referencing severe depression and general anxiety as her reasons for her time off. As a sufferer from severe depression and social anxiety, I found myself sympathising - it's hard to live with, it's crippling and it's difficult to talk about. It's all too common that people like Kayley, and to a lesser extent people like me, put their lives on the internet and edit out the devastating effects that a mental illness can have on your day to day life, but why is that?
Well, after reading the article and scrolling down to the comments, it wasn't hard to see why. Out of the four comments left on the post, three were extremely negative;
"What makes her brave exactly?" - Referencing the title of the article which calls Kayley brave.
"Maybe you should stop trying to perform and impress on your channel. It can't be good for you. Your health is suffering." - Referencing Kayley's comment on her inability to make videos without suffering from panic attacks during this time.
"Surprise, surprise... Life is for living - not filming 24/7."
Naively, this shocked me. Living in a fairly small, supportive blog bubble has almost convinced me that stigma has become a thing of the past - and it made me double take to realise just how wrong that I've been. People still don't seem to understand how debilitating that a mental illness can be, how much it can take over the life that you have and even the person that you are. What makes Kayley brave? Living with a mental illness and managing to make it through makes Kayley brave, talking about what clearly seems to still be a heavily stigmatised issue makes her brave,
Life is for living, and yes Kayley's channel was an issue for her - but it easily could have been her job, her family, leaving her house to go to the shops. The issue is not her YouTube channel, the issue is that Kayley was ill enough that it stopped her living her life as she was before, it was stopping her living life to the full - it has nothing to do with her channel, lifestyle isn't to blame for a chemical imbalance in the brain; depression and anxiety can happen to anybody at anytime.
If we want people to talk about mental illness more openly, we need to start listening as a whole, we need to start understanding that we can't judge people because of their lifestyle - mental illness is mental illness.
What do you think is holding people back from talking about mental illness?