It’s NOT a Joke.

Autumn Hoff, Junior Website Editor

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If you have ever taken the endless social media scroll, you won’t be alarmed when I say that depression, anxiety, and harmful thoughts are taken as jokes. Every few posts feature captions such as “kill me now” or “just shoot me already”, often times accompanied with a picture to emphasize that it is meant to be humorous. Although these posts are meant to be simply jokes, they are far from it.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect one in eight teens. Alliance High School has just under 500 students currently in attendance, meaning that there are at least 62 students in our school that have anxiety, not to mention those students who deal with depression.

With that in mind, think about how many times a day you hear your fellow classmates complaining in class about how they have too many assignments to do and say something like “Ugh, just kill me now”. That number compared to the average number of teens with anxiety is equal, if not greater.

Now, think of how many times you have heard those words uttered from the mouth of your best friend. The person who is so very dear to you, the person you tell all your secrets to, the person you’d do nearly anything for… how often do they say it? In fact… how often do you say it? Do you or anyone you know say it out of humor or out of seriousness? Even I am guilty of making such a joke.

That’s the problem in today’s society; nobody knows the difference between one teen’s serious statement and another’s joke. Nobody knows which classmates go through every day thinking that they are not good enough, feeling down in the dumps, and not knowing exactly why.

One of the only ways that people find out that someone’s death wish was legitimate is when their depression becomes so crippling that they take their own lives. How sad is it that those teens, no older than you or I felt the need to end their young lives? People are ending their lives at the young age of 16, when the average life expectancy is over 80 years. That’s over 60 years of life ended by the dangerously sharp edge of a blade. Those people could have been the ones to accomplish great things.

When things like that happen, their classmates’ minds don’t even process the thought that all those times that person claimed they wished death, they were dead serious. They find themselves looking at everyone they know. People become scared and analyze the behavior of their friends and classmates. They wonder if that person that killed themselves was so depressed and they never noticed, who else wanders the halls and has the same thoughts? In a way, people question life as they know it, because in a way, what they know life to be is not how it is.

Stereotypes on how depressed people act and dress are so far from the truth and often not even remotely close to how the people struggling to get their minds to wander from harmful thoughts act or dress. The girl that’s always smiling in your English class isn’t actually happy with her life, she’s wearing a mask to hide the embarrassment of her depression. That boy who is a star football player goes home every night thinking he’s less than the scum on the streets.

Depression is hidden in plain sight and it’s not an easy thing to detect. Even your closest friends could be hiding their miserable shells beneath the costumes of the joyous people they appear to always be.

Anxiety, depression, and harmful thoughts are NOT jokes. I cannot emphasize this enough. I personally have been and am currently close to people who deal with such problems on a daily basis. They are some of those people who make death to appear a joke, while in reality they are serious behind their false laughter. I have seen these demons up close and personal and I can truly say that they are intensely real, terrible, and horrible things to witness.

Movies, television, and books may cover these topics to some extent but most writers are fortunate enough to not experience such issues themselves or see them in the people closest to them. Others, myself included, are not so lucky. Seeing one of your closest friends struggle to get through the day, holding them in your arms as they cry after having an anxiety attack, and talking them out of self harm are not things anyone should ever have to experience.

So, next time you hear someone joke about something that should be taken seriously, stop and think to yourself: it’s NOT a joke.


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