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‘What if I Lose My Sparkle?’: TikTokers Challenge the Stigma of Treating Mental Illness

Your depression doesn’t give you your ‘sparkle,’ it causes you to sleep all day and live in disarray

A lot of people worry that they may lose something they like about themselves in exchange for the relief they could experience by taking antidepressants. Maybe they won’t be as fun at parties, won’t be as creative or keep their cute little quirks. In other words, they’ll lose their “sparkle.” But as a recent TikTok trend highlights, it’s probably worth it. In fact, their “sparkle” was nothing special to begin with. 

“I don’t want to take antidepressants, what if I lose my sparkle, huh?” the viral TikTok sound asks, before the person making the clip turns the camera to reveal “the sparkle in question,” an oppressively messy bedroom littered with dirty clothes and empty water bottles, them taking a bath with all of their clothes on or lying in bed thinking about how empty and unloved they feel.  

@your.tiktok.therap1st

I don’t wanna take antidepressants! #StrikeAPosay #WrappingGifts #HolidayTreats #DontDropTheOhYeah #idontwannatakeantidepressants #foryoupage #fyp

♬ the sparkle in question – user9653987698494

@your.tiktok.therap1st

Pardon my poor acting skills 😂 #StrikeAPosay #WrappingGifts #HolidayTreats #DontDropTheOhYeah #anxiety #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters #fyp #foryo

♬ the sparkle in question – user9653987698494

The specifics of the videos vary, and the sound has now been used in nearly 30,000 different TikToks. In each case, though, they challenge the premise that taking antidepressants or otherwise seeking treatment for mental health issues will fundamentally change something positive about you.

The most popular version has more than 1 million likes and comes from the account @your.tiktok.therap1st, run by licensed professional counselor Leandro Olszanski. In it, he shows footage of the aforementioned messy bedroom, with a bed covered in unfolded laundry and drawers stuffed with trash. He also created a second version shortly thereafter, replacing “antidepressants” with “anxiety meds” and showing himself biting his nails, shaking as he holds pieces of paper and randomly spasming. 

@frheckles

lets hope this gets on mental illness tiktok lol 💔😏✋ #d3pression#mentalillness#mentalillnessinnit#fyp#mentallyilltiktok#mentallyillcheck#foryoupage

♬ the sparkle in question – user9653987698494

The tongue-in-cheek videos both normalize seeking help for mental illness and highlight the stigma that prevents many people from doing so. While Olszanski might be portraying the symptoms his patients experience, most of the people utilizing the sound are actually featuring their own. Regardless, viewers seem to relate. “We are all living the same life,” one person commented on a video of a girl featuring how her “sparkle” causes her to binge-eat, not sleep for days and make impulsive decisions. “This app just keeps coming after me,” wrote another user on @your.tiktok.therap1st’s video. 

@brittanymatch

✨✨#HappyHolidays #GiftOfGame #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthawarness #mentalhealthtiktoks #adhdprobs #breakthestigma

♬ the sparkle in question – user9653987698494

Beyond just being relatable, though, the videos often seem to be a place to share support and guidance. “It helps me to know that people who seem to have it together on the surface struggle as much as I do,” commented one user on a video of a girl explaining how she sleeps all day without her medications. 

Perhaps some people do indeed lose their “sparkle” when taking antidepressants. As @your.tiktok.therap1st explains in a later video, many people often have to try multiple prescriptions before finding one that works for them. But for those whose lives are debilitated by mental illness, the risk of losing one’s sparkle is a fair trade — especially when the sparkle in question is actually just self-harming behavior.

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