Mental health memes
If you do not know, mental health memes are weird lifesavers. Most times, when people are going through awful moments, memes offer some sort of relief. Jokes or funny statements about trauma can be quite therapeutic and can help the depressed or mentally stressed feel less alone.
What really are mental health memes? With their widespread usage on the internet, how helpful is it? Most people with mental health disorders say memes improve their condition, and it worsens their condition to others.
Do you know the origin of memes? Most people wonder who invented such a cool way of easing pain and creating laughter. Well, the first human to use the word “meme” was Richard Dawkins. He said memes are “tunes, ideas, catchphrases, clothes, fashion, ways of making pots or builders arches”.
The primary function of a meme is to make people laugh. This is also true for the mental health memes floating all over Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media networks. These memes serve as a coping mechanism for some persons living with traumatizing mental disorders. And to some, catching just a glimpse of mental health memes anywhere can trigger their condition. So, are mental health memes good for those with mental disorders, or not?
Are mental health memes good for people with mental health disorders, or not?
With mental health memes becoming powerful content on the internet, our team wanted to know how these memes affected people with PTSD, depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.
We asked people to share their views and experiences with us, willingly- between the ages of 15 and 35. After listening to a few persons, we compiled some stories to better explain their views on mental health memes.
Laura, 27 years old
“It’s been almost a decade or so (can’t quite remember because it has been so long) since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It took me so long to come to terms with this disorder. I was embarrassed and as a mother of two kids with a good-paying job, it really was rough and quite intimidating. Most persons noticed the changes in me, including the fact that I was less enthusiastic and had no energy for anything. Basically, I became bored and more depressed.
Back then, the effects of my disorder were unknown. Sadly, it wasn’t a popularly known disorder. I’ll usually surf the internet for help, especially websites related to my condition but I didn’t understand what was going on with me.
When I first went to a psychologist and got my diagnosis result, I knew I had bipolar disorder for sure. For the records, bipolar disorder is associated with constant bouts of mood swings, low self-esteem, insomnia, disconnection from reality, and low motivation. Most times, I get really excited but only for a short period.
It is 2021 now and bipolar disorder seems to be a popularly known and understood mental illness. Try google searching “bipolar disorder” and you can find lots of information to relate with. As a matter of fact, social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter have references to bipolar disorder. So, a lady in a support group I was part of recommended using mental health memes on social media. According to her, “these memes can help us feel more connected, alive and happy”.
Recently, I came across this mental health meme on bipolar disorder, “I’m going to use what little energy I have today to breathe and maybe blink”- now that’s something I can relate to.
I am recovering quite well and seeing quotes that relate to how I feel, act, think or live, splashed on different social media platforms and website is totally an adjustment. They make me feel better and let me know, there are people like me- who understand.”
Ivy, 22 years old
“it’s weird how Instagram influencers use most memes to garner likes and sabotage a mental health condition. While it is therapeutic for some persons, seeing a meme that explains my condition puts me in a really bad mood. I am trying so hard to come to terms with mental health memes serving as inspirational quotes for the depressed or mentally stressed. Some of the people posting these memes have no idea of how it feels to have PTSD.
It’s possible to see shades of painful experiences in an image or meme relating to my condition. I will be really honest; some mental memes make me laugh. But after that, I am back to pitying myself while laying on my bed in the dark. Mental health memes are dangerous and make me feel powerless. Most times, I come online and see a post that glorifies a particular eating or mental disorder. This is me and it is totally how I feel”.
“My friend tagged me on a post on Instagram. It was an ADHD-related meme. Followers were asked to tag people who had ADHD and I was actually tagged by my friend. It was really hurting not because I was tagged, but because of the meme. It read ‘ADHD, the energy to do anything. The focus to accomplish nothing”.
It reminded me of a time I was so focused on getting my dreams accomplished. Now, take a look at me… I can barely focus on my dreams, career, family, and myself”.
Can these memes trigger happiness?
Mental health disorders can make socializing a cumbersome thing to do. Most severe symptoms of mental disorders include feelings of worthless, lack of motivation, insomnia, inability to express or explain feelings, little or no interest in daily activities, and more.
Mental health memes can help affected persons share experiences and feel connected with the world. Everyone seems to be saying these memes serve as support systems and it can be totally true. Mental health memes have gotten quite a reputation for promoting mental health disorders and making people laugh.
These memes can serve as an encouragement to people who enjoy them. Most certified psychiatrists and therapists usually recommend mental health memes to their patients. A little graphic image has so much power and positive effect on people with mental disorders. Anything that helps people understand what exactly they are going through is helpful.
If a mental health meme (whether in sentence or image) helps you visualize, understand, and make you feel seen, then go for it. You are on a healing journey. Like Laura said, “I am recovering quite well, and seeing quotes that relate to how I feel, act, think or live, splashed on different social media platforms and website is totally an adjustment. They make me feel better and let me know, there are people like me- who understand.”
Humor is therapeutic. If you lack access to a professional therapist or if you are not satisfied with your therapist, then turn online for support from people in your condition. It is really okay to self-diagnose through mental memes. If it helps you heal and makes you happy, use them.
Can mental health memes trigger pain or trauma?
Everyone is different. No two persons suffering from a mental disorder have the same symptoms. Ignoring something that is a constant reminder of pain and guilt can be quite therapeutic. Some persons do not appreciate the effects of mental health memes and it is really okay.
Some mental health memes do not encourage healing. Like Idris, a mental health meme made him feel inadequate and incapable. This feeling is totally enough to trigger his ADHD symptoms. People battling with conditions like PTSD and ADHD are trying to heal and cope. Seeing contents about their condition flooding the internet takes them back to square one.
Most social media accounts use mental health memes to promote their business or garner likes. And this is the problem Ivy had, it’s weird how Instagram influencers use most memes to garner likes and sabotage a mental health condition”.
Brands and private companies tend to coopt some language used by mentally stressed people to influence their business. These words are empty and used just for the purpose of commerce- not to serve as a sort of healing. For instance, a popular brand might make a tweet or post suggesting that if you are feeling “depressed”, using their products or ordering delivery can help you.
Some mental health memes portray scenes with irrelevant jokes about mentally stressed people’s painful symptoms. There are harmful memes that stigmatize mental health. Topics like suicide, depression, anxiety, compulsive disorders, are used mainly in dark humor memes. But is this healthy?
Social media platforms as a coping mechanism?
I stumbled on a mental health meme posted on a Twitter account page “I don’t know how to fix my mental health so I’ll just keep making joooooooookessss”.
Most people suffering from social anxiety, sleep deprivation, depression, and other mental health-related disorders express their feelings through memes.
Marcel, 23, says uploading mental health memes on his social media accounts helps him a lot. “it allows me to express my feelings, adequately without fear or shame”
Marcel, like many others, uses social media platforms as a coping mechanism for their symptoms- by posting dark, funny, sad, nihilist, and nonsensical memes. The social media platforms used to address mental health-related topics include Facebook, Reddit, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter.
People post mental health memes in form of sentences, text or video, on these platforms. There is a possibility of being understood and able to share feelings by posting such content. On the other hand, people may regret posting about their mental health after being mocked, ignored, or laughed at.
Marcel says he comments, likes, and posts mental health memes that he relates to -they are appealing. He said Instagram and Twitter are the two common platforms where he sees such content.
“They are really funny mental health memes”, marcel said. “usually, when I feel the need to let it all out and share my feelings, I post a mental health meme. It gets to me really good”.
“Social media is available so we express all our fears, concerns, and problems. We do not have to lay our heads on our pillow and think, we have to laugh it all out”, said Tom, a student suffering from depression.
Expressing feelings and thoughts through humor has been a coping mechanism for a very long time. Back then, television and films were the proper platforms. With social media, everyone can be more expressive, laugh things off, and upload memes about their mental health.
Tom says he is part of a group on social media where memes are sent daily. “sending memes to people who understand you on social media is quite therapeutic”. “seeing a mental health meme shows you are not totally alone even though you are”.
Mental health memes are for good!!!
Mental health memes are shared every day, on different platforms. These posts give a sort of great feeling to those who post them. Laura, Marcel, and Tom all have great things to say about how mental health memes make them feel.
Marcel loves when his post on mental health memes gets likes and comments. “the highest number of likes I have ever gotten on a meme is 28, and that makes me feel so good. It is really nice to know that other people understand my stuff”. According to research, social media likes and shares can trigger dopamine (the feel-good hormone) in the brain.
Laura loves seeing mental health memes because they help her recover from bipolar disorder. And as for Tom, mental health memes are therapeutic. “Having a mental health disorder is one thing, being unable to verbally express how you feel is another. So when you see a mental health meme that perfectly describes how you feel, you hit the send, like, post or comment button”, Tom said.
The questions associated with the topic “mental health memes” are confusing and polarizing. While some argue that these memes are healthy, others see them as harmful, traumatizing, and inappropriate. If you do not like such memes, it’s best to block the pages and avoid interaction. If you want to make and share memes, that is cool too.