No, mental illness is not ‘quirky’, it’s debilitating and needs to be taken seriously



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No, mental illness is not 'quirky', it's debilitating and needs to be taken seriously
(Picture: Ella Byworth for

‘Quirkiness’ is used to describe someone who’s eccentric. Someone who dresses cool, likes underground music, and has coloured hair.

Someone who doesn’t define themselves or who doesn’t follow the rules.

You know, every teen on Tumblr ever.

But you know what’s not quirky? Living with a mental illness.

I recently saw a tweet from someone who had described living with depression as being ‘quirky’. It seemed like this person didn’t really understand the severity of depression – or that they see it more as a personality trait than an illness.

Whatever the reason, the description was dangerous.

Being ‘quirky’ is something that is in your control. It’s something that you could change should you want to. Mental illness is not.

Mental illness doesn’t care who it affects, and it’ll do all it can to prevent the person living with it from recovering from it.

No, mental illness is not 'quirky', it's debilitating and needs to be taken seriously
(Illustration: Ella Byworth for

When you describe your mental illness as being ‘quirky’, you’re taking the seriousness away from it. You’re telling people that it’s in your control. You’re giving people a false perception of the illness. To people who don’t understand it, this is damaging.

People who don’t understand the effects of mental illness need to be educated. They need to learn that beating depression, anxiety, and serious mood disorders is not just a case of eating healthily, going for a run or drinking lots of water. It’s a case of not beating it at all, but just learning to cope.

They need to learn that medication can be helpful – and it shouldn’t be made to feel shameful.

They need to comprehend that sometimes mental illness can hit you so hard that it’s hard to get out of bed, let alone leave the house.

Saying your mental illness is quirky is saying it’s not an illness – and this is what so many people who don’t understand mental illness believe.

You wouldn’t describe having a broken leg as being ‘quirky’, nor a chest infection or a migraine….