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Does Seeing Mental Illness Stories Online Annoy You?

July 24, 2017 Laura Barton

If seeing mental illness stories online annoys you, maybe you think it's done for attention. It's not. Here's why sharing mental illness stories is important.

In today’s day and age, it’s easier than ever for people to share their mental illness stories online. Whether it’s sharing a struggle, a small victory, a big triumph, or a plea for help, stories about mental illness are aplenty. While many call those who share their mental illness stories brave and strong, there are also those who tear them down, saying they should keep the information to themselves--and offline. If sharing mental illness stories annoys you, read on.

Why We Share Our Mental Illness Stories Online

There’s this idea that people only share things to garner attention, especially when said things are controversial or outside the norm of what most people share. Stories of mental illness tend to fall into the latter category, and some people balk at the idea. They say there’s no other reason to share but to try to get pity or virtual pats on the back, but that’s just not the case and, quite frankly, quite stigmatizing because it invalidates people and discourages them from reaching out (Mental Health Stigma's Effect on Our Personal Stories).

As someone who does share her personal stories of mental illness online, I will say having a pity party is not my goal, nor is getting a virtual pat on the. I’m not looking to be called brave, and, honestly, would rather that you didn’t say I was. My goal with sharing my stories is so others can know they aren’t alone.

I thought I was alone with my struggles for most of my life because I was too scared and ashamed to talk about them in person. I had been made to feel bad about my struggles and that I just wasn’t trying hard enough to not be mentally ill, so, eventually, I turned to the Internet. There, I found others who could relate to picking their skin, feeling suicidal, or drowning in their anxiety of failure. There I understood that I wasn’t the only one in the world who suffered as I did.

My goal is for my story to be that for someone else. I’m not looking for recognition or for them to even message me; I just put my words out there in the event that someone might see them and be given hope because hope is the crux of everything when it comes to mental health.

Mental Illness Stories of Getting Through Create Hope

When in the depths of suffering with my disorders, I didn’t feel any sort of hope. There was no “better” or light at the end of the tunnel. There almost wasn’t a tomorrow in many cases.

But because some other people took a chance of shouting into the abyss that is the Internet, I learned I wasn’t the only one who struggled as I did. It began to chip away at the absolute damnation I felt and I began to see that despite my depression, anxiety, and excoriation disorder I could be an active participant in life, and be happy while doing it.

It’s important that we share our mental illness stories so that we might be able to facilitate this hope for someone else. Does everyone share their story for the same reasons I do? Probably not. Some of them might be just screaming out to see if anyone will answer and show them they aren’t alone. That’s not a bad thing and at most the only negative impact on anyone’s lives is they get annoyed by seeing it shared over social media if it goes viral. And ultimately, that’s your problem if that’s the case.

APA Reference
Barton, L. (2017, July 24). Does Seeing Mental Illness Stories Online Annoy You?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2017/07/stigma-and-sharing-about-mental-health-online



Author: Laura Barton

Laura Barton is a fiction and non-fiction writer from the Niagara Region in Ontario, Canada. Find her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.

Nancy
says:
August, 4 2017 at 12:38 pm
I'm reading this a little late, and hope that you and anyone else sees it. OUR STORIES NEED TO BE TOLD and HEARD by those who are suffering in silence with no real support from family or friends. I've lost more friends over the last several years than anyone who's already isolating and avoiding those who do persist now and then because when I've asked, told, and begged people to just come he with me, if anything, yes, to just sit next to me silently as one of the quotes say. That's been my most needed thing, and yet it's gotten avoided like I've got the plague. I'm 56, divorced, and have been living in nearly total seclusion for over 5 years now. It hurts. I ache. I cry. I try to sleep ass much as possible to get through the days and to the time it gets dark...that's when I feel I'm "safe" somehow. Nobody can see me hopefully, and it's not as unusual for someone to be in bed at dark. Even when it's 5:00 in the fall. My divorce was mean and cruel, and I was personally and publicly humiliated in a courtroom more times than I care to remember. But I can't forget. They're all emblazoned in my brain from the very beginning when I became my now narcissist ex husbands public and personal enemy #1. My divorce, prior to, during, and after, (when he drug me back to court), to get more "stuff", was what gave my my most recent diagnosis of complex ptsd. The traumas I was subjected to in the courtroom and out are unimaginable to the few people who know the story. To start with, (mid divorce proceedings), my ex went through 3 Attys. The first two dropping him for lying. The third gained him a new judge, and I was forced to represent myself after my own Atty had dropped me because it was dragging on too long. He knew I didn't have the money for all the fees racking up, yet my ex persisted. (It's what narcissists do). They must win at any/all cost. He won huge. The judge denied my request to postpone until I had legal counsel. I told her that my only income was disability for the major depressive disorder, and crippling anxiety, I was approved for in 2009. (This was 2013). Her reply to me was "You look fine, you walked in here totally unassisted and you'll represent yourself"! I was mortified. That was the beginning of the hellish 5 months that were before me in and out of court, several times, (needlessly). My ex made a circus out of it, but it was his circus and I was the joke. The gold digging wife who wanted things she didn't deserve, and I was beaten to a pulp on a witness stand by his Atty and the Judge forced to answer ridiculous questions of blown up insane lies that to this day I know someone had to help him with. I can't even speak here about the ultimate and most traumatizing thing that happened near the end of these crazy trials over THINGS. My state is a no fault state, and community property state, which means anything obtained during the marriage should be split 50/50. No fault meaning they did not care that I caught him cheating at which time he denied it and always did. We haven't spoke since the last courtdate 10/2013. I'll never speak to him if I don't have to. He's an abusive manipulative person who you can never win with.
Through all of that I was totally alone. My dog is my only companion and reason I'm still here today. I'm positive if not for her I'd have found a way out. My now ex poisoned my only child, a grown daughter from my first marriage out of high school. She was my rock and best friend. We were as close as a mother daughter could be. She's not spoken to me in 5 years, and I've not seen my three gorgeous granddaughters in 5 years. I was so proud of the relationship we had and almost overnight I was hated for reasons I'm not sure of to this day. She's never asked and I've never been given a chance to speak my truths. My own mother and I are not close. She's never been a mother in any sense of the word unless you ask her. She's also a very controlling person who's told me numerous times I've chosen depression over her and my family. I stopped contact with her at the urging of a counselor. A great counselor. My mother told me I was a disappointment, an embarrassment, a failure, and blamed me for the failure of my marriage. She knew nothing about why ,but said I couldn't keep a man. A man she disliked the first time she met him over 20 years ago. We lost our home to foreclosure that I had owned prior to meeting him. She blames me for that and asked why it wasn't paid off years before and what was I doing with my money earned from the jobs I'd always had. She never once asked me how I was. NOT ONE TIME. EVER. I felt I had no choice but to stop contact while also going through an unheard of insane divorce that I'm also blamed for dragging out as told by my ex to everyone he has gotten to listen. He moved with his girlfriend to within a mile of my daughter. My daughter believes she has a relationship with him that has nothing to do with me I was told. It has everything to do with me. Positive of that, too. Threatened me for years that if we ever split up he'd move as close as possible to make my life a living hell. He did that during the end of our marriage and continues to today. He's done it because he knows how weak I was with depression. He knew I'd felt suicidal at times. He's partially responsible for that. Very much responsibile in fact. He's in contempt of court since the month after our divorce was finalized. Refuses to pay the little but I was awarded monthly. I'm afraid of him. Have no money for legal fees and free legal aid is a joke. I will never step inside a room or courtroom with that man ever again without a very capable attorney,, & that's not likely to happen as I struggle daily just to keep my head above water financially. It's exhausting. I've lost everyone that I held close to me that believed in me
My daughter and 3 innocent young granddaughters who loved their grandma, but have likely forgotten about me or have been told Lord knows what.
My depression and anxiety is paralyzing right now.
It's a beautiful Friday here today,, and going into another weekend that I dread more than the other days. The few people I do talk to have families and full lives. Plans they've made with me lately seem to always get canceled or I don't hear from them at all like last Sunday. The first time in forever I was looking forward to seeing a friend and getting out. Then nothing. No text. No call. No return call after I called to make sure things were ok. No reply. Nothing. They know how loneliness is taking more of me each and every day, (if they've heard me at all). I'm broken hearted and devastated to this day over my daughter and granddaughters. It doesn't get easier. It doesn't get better. It never goes away. There's not a day or night I don't cry over it. Depression was a struggle since 2006, but this, this is so much more on top of that. It's been called Complicated Grief. Grieving fot someone who's still alive. That's exactly what I've been doing along with all the usual anxiety, (agoraphobia often), the symptoms of C-PTSD are triggered by so many everyday things that I'm always on edge and hyper vigilant. I'm afraid. I see a counselor but it's not enough. I take meds, but they can't fix this heart break. It's a bandaid is what it is.
I ache for someone to just talk to and see that when I am around people most times that I'm comfortable with, I'm funny and so personable, charming and even stunning, I've been told. I used to be those things but it's only very temporary and not often enough to remember the woman I used to believe I was. The one before a huge defining and turning point in my life that I'll never forget, and one that nobody other than my narcissistic ex spouse is no doubt smiling about still.
I want my life back. I want the family that I loved back. My mother not so much. I've tried with her for over a dozen years to explain depression to her with no results. How do you begin to talk about all of this on top of that, that's turned your life upside down and inside out, and know that the people who should care about you don't?? I can't get over the loss of my daughter. I can't live aside of all that pain, as my counselor says I need to try. He doesn't believe in saying "let it go", thank goodness because I'll never let it go. It's right here with me every moment of the day and night.
I'd love to hear from someone. Anyone. Not for anything but just to be friends.
I didn't mean to go on this long, I swear, it just kept coming along with the pain, and I guess I need to be heard, and validated somehow. I'm a good person. A caring and loving person, regardless of what others may think. They don't know me any longer it appears. And I'm afraid they will never try again.

Thank you to anyone who read this. I know how lengthy it is and apologize for that. I didn't know how to shorten or say it any other way than I just have.
Thank you again. I love the Healthy Place. There's something here for everyone and that's fabulous.
E.P. Gilligan
says:
July, 27 2017 at 6:21 pm
Mental illness is an illness, just like diabetes. There is a chemical imbalance in the brain with mental illness, just like there is an imbalance in sugar and insulin production for the diabetic. Mental illness is a medical problem. Would anyone discriminate against a person with diabetes? Why do some people thinbk it is okay to discriminate against people with a medical problem called mental illness?
Lizanne Corbit
says:
July, 24 2017 at 10:48 am
Pure and simple there it is, "My goal with sharing my stories is so others can know they aren’t alone." -- this is a wonderful read. In a world where everyone seems to be putting everything on the internet and everyone is a critic it can be difficult to navigate the waters. This is a powerful, simple reminder that sometimes it's really not about us, (or those writing) rather, it's for other people. We are all in this together if we keep that perspective. Thanks for sharing.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 24 2017 at 12:21 pm
Thanks so much for your kind words and I'm glad what I've written resonates with you. :) You're definitely right; we're all in this together!
Chris Winson
says:
July, 24 2017 at 7:04 am
Agree Laura and also that by writing about our experiences then we can help, in whatever small or big way, to tackle stigma and myths around mental health. I worried for ages about by blog, why was I writing it , who was it for....but the feedback I get is that it helps people to understand more on depression and in my workplace lead to conversations that might not have happened. But the best I got back was that a friend read one of the posts and then sought help...which was something I never expected. That means everything to me. My post "It's all about me!" tried to explain the whole thought process around why I write, both from a positive and negative point of view, as I do find it stressful sometimes.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 24 2017 at 7:21 am
Yes, feedback over the years has taught me that people do find value in reading personal stories. As I said above, I don't need to hear that feedback because I know from how I was that just reading someone's story gave me hope and I never commented on anything. I'll take the chance that someone else is out there in the same situation and may not say a word — just knowing that there's the potential to help someone is enough. Some people's posts just happen to go viral, and while that would be great because it would mean my message reaches more people, I don't ever set out to write a viral post.

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