Are millennial memes the road to mental health conversations?

Are millennial memes the road to mental health conversations?

Neeti Pherwani

The perfect fluffiness made me a proud baking mama. I was standing in the kitchen at 4 pm, having just baked a bunch of cinnamon rolls in between several work calls, holding a half-eaten piece in my hand and admiring the perfection of flavour and texture in my first attempt with it.

What brought this on, you ask?

It was one of the ‘good’ days. I’d just gotten over a depressive episode from the day before and woken up with a vigour to be productive, clean, cook and even bake. I am a quintessential millennial, for whom depressive episodes have become a part of our lives and we not only do accept them, but openly talk about them with our friends and peers. Ours is the generation that perfected the art of making memes on depression, and I noticed an interesting phenomenon around this. Sharing a meme on depression has actually become like a call for support from peers without actually having to tell someone how you’re feeling. I noticed this with myself.

A friend had shared a joke on not being able to get out of bed and instantly I texted him when I saw this. He also got a few other concerned texts from friends asking how he was doing, offering to call and chat, etc. We’ve developed our own code to let each other know what’s happening and the best part is we all absolutely relate to the feelings. We recognise the onset of an episode, we recognise the good days and bad. In a way we’re offering community therapy to each other without realising we are doing so.

This is something I discovered with a close friend who has also been dealing with depression for a while. When one has a depressive recurring episode, the other can support either by sending each other interesting content to distract, or just asking about our day and venting. It doesn’t sound like much, but reaching out to someone just shows you care and that’s really all that someone going through depression often needs to know. This isn’t either of our first time going through it, but the way we tackle it has changed. The first time, we tried to fight it, now we just accept it that episodes will happen, and we need to ride the wave. In fact, positive psychology includes riding the wave as a therapy tool in dealing with anxious thoughts or bouts of anger as well.

This is true for many of my peers. We all have a depression buddy who deals with episodes in a similar way and can support each other when going through one. I’d like to think that we’ve opened up the floor on mental health discussions for generations to come. I talk here of depression, it being something I have personally experienced, but I know how there are so many conversations on BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), Schizophrenia and other more complicated mental health disorders as well.

Just knowing that you’re not in this alone – your feelings of failure, not being enough, struggling hard and feeling like you’re getting nowhere – isn’t just you. It’s all of us, and that makes it a little bit better. It makes me feel like maybe, just baking those cinnamon rolls today is an achievement.