[Excerpt from thecut.com by Brooke LaMantia]

“All of my friends are anxious — some have general anxiety, some are anxious and depressed, some have social anxiety — but you wouldn’t know it even if you asked. Instead, we talk about it while decidedly not talking about it, most often in texts and through the internet.

Like the recent TikTok trend that featured an audio clip about … drinking bleach from a bucket. My friend sent me one saying, “Drink a bucket of bleach or ask for help when you’re struggling,” and the audio finishes the thought: “Ah, f**k it. Give me that damn bucket.” Or when, this past winter, I would finally crawl out of my room as the sun was setting around 4 p.m. to eat something, barely hungry, and I’d joke “That’s on depression” to my roommates. The phrase “I’m going to kill myself” gets thrown around in our group chat for something as seemingly inconsequential as hitting a red light or when a favorite restaurant closes. It all sounds serious, like a cry for help — or just a joke that I’m taking too seriously? I never know if I should worry or pretend to laugh it off.

I know how this all sounds, but trust me when I say there is zero stigma around mental illness in our group — we’re not making fun of anyone else when we do this. It’s how we talk about ourselves. In a way, it’s a good thing. We’re comfortable enough to be open about this stuff, to even ask for help sometimes. But maybe not comfortable enough to engage in real, serious dialogue about what we’re going through, which sucks. I want to be able to talk about my mental health with my friends sans memes.”

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