Ariana Madix has always been an open book on Vanderpump Rules. She’s never been someone who pretends everything is perfect, instead she (and the VPR audience) sit with her feelings, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. In season 8 of Vanderpump Rules, Ariana admitted to Lisa Vanderpump that, despite the fact that she’s hitting all these “major milestones” in her life — releasing a cocktail book, buying a house in Los Angeles, etc. — she still finds that there are days when she can’t get out of bed. Vanderpump isn't generally known for its relatability, but as its stars grow and change, so does its ability to tell a story that its viewers can understand on a more personal level.
After sitting with her words for a moment, Ariana says that she's likely depressed, and she's far from alone in that realization. According to a 2019 study by Blue Cross Blue Shield, more than 9 million people in the United States alone have been diagnosed with depression — that’s about 4.4%. Since 2013, depression diagnoses in millennials are up a whopping 47%, and women get diagnosed with depression 6% more often than men do. It’s likely that all of these numbers and rates of depression are higher, though, because this study only looked at people who had health insurance. According to INSIDER, millennials are more likely than baby boomers to decline medical treatment because of the cost — these services are very, very expensive, especially when you have to pay out of pocket. According to Fortune, it may have a lot to do with the economy. It’s harder for millennials than any generation before them to find well-paying work. Couple that with crushing student loans and the anxiety-inducing reports on climate change and more, and you’ve got a recipe for burnout and a millennial health crisis.
Luckily, like Ariana, millennials and Gen Z are the generations most likely to talk openly about their own mental health issues — they’re not big on stigmas. According to a 2015 study by American University, millennials like Ariana (and me, your friendly neighborhood writer) are more comfortable with mental illness in general — talking about it, seeking treatment for it, etc.
Ariana’s anxiety also shows one big gaping hole in the “American dream” concept. The thing about doing all the things that you’re “supposed to do” is that hitting that mark actually doesn’t (and can’t) change you as a person. And millennials have had to adjust their expectations for adulthood so much — bad job market, crushing student debt, etc. — that perhaps the definition of success for boomers and previous generations simply doesn't match what it does for us.
As Lisa told Ariana, if you’re not happy within yourself, you’re not going to be happy no matter what’s going on in your day-to-day around you. Getting that job or that house doesn’t change what's going on inside. Ariana — and many of the people watching her every week on Vanderpump Rules — are locking down what makes them happy, and ultimately, learning that all of that happiness needs to come from within. And while most of us probably look to Vanderpump for its escapism, it's pretty helpful to see someone who leads a perfectly Instagrammable life admit that everything isn't actually okay all the time.