BY CARSON DESHEVY-RENOUF
There is a saying that you hear often nowadays: “It’s 2014.” It is always said to make the point that we as a society are tolerant and accepting. “It’s 2014, there is nothing wrong with having depression,” for instance.
This saying is used so often that you would think that those who do say it, and even those around them, would understand the issues they claim we are so tolerant of. Things like mental illness, sexual orientation or religious belief are all subject to this phrase. The thing is, it is 2014 and it turns out, although we are leaps and bounds better than the generations before us, we are not saints of tolerance and acceptance.
There is a reason that people find it easy to claim that the time we live in is so ahead in accepting things that used to be unacceptable. It is because, in reality, they aren’t entirely wrong. There have been some substantial steps toward making the lives of those who were once upon a time considered “different,” easier. However, that doesn’t make it all right to pretend that stigmas don’t exist.
Focusing more on mental illness, common things like depression are often treated like an explanation. Let me clarify, depression is like attention deficit disorder, not in function, but in the fact that many people do suffer from both but it is also something that people regularly and routinely self-diagnose to fill in the blanks when defining how they act or how they feel. The most common instance of this that I have found is people claiming that they have obsessive compulsive disorder when in reality they don’t even know what OCD stands for. It has become very easy to talk about mental illnesses but equally difficult for those without first-hand experience to understand.
You’d be surprised how many people who adhere to the saying “it’s 2014 …” also refuse to see professionals for assistance with their own mental turmoil out of fear of seeming “crazy.” There is still this weird, thick blanket of misunderstanding over most of the issues that hold sway in our lives. Whether that is surprising or not is really up for you to decide.
I do understand mental illness more thoroughly than I do other issues since I have first-hand experience with it. I also know how difficult it is to try to understand what someone close to you is going through. What I don’t understand is why people have to be afraid to admit that they are not OK. I don’t understand why someone will lie about something as serious as mental illness out of fear of being judged.
The point is, in a society where it is common to insist that you will be accepted, there shouldn’t be a constant and ominous fear of the exact opposite occurring. True social acceptance is difficult, if not impossible to achieve, but a sense of self-awareness is not.