One of the most difficult things for those who live with a mental illness is sharing their diagnosis with others. There is an undeniable fear that comes with being open about how they feel and how they may be perceived if anyone found out they were “crazy.”
The uncertainty of how you will be received is real and it is not uncommon to go for years without telling anyone that you are struggling. With the popularity of social media, however, the ability to talk anonymously has made it easier to share and open up lines of communication, where in the past there seemed to be very few.
For years I struggled with whom to tell, who not to tell, what they would think if I did tell them; the conversations and scenarios played constantly through my mind. It wasn’t until I started becoming more active in online forums, groups and talking with people on line that I realized there is a way to talk about mental health and not be judged. Recently, I replied to a comment in a group on Facebook, the person had asked for advice on how to stay focused when you have Bipolar. Within 20 minutes there were four other people, besides myself, who also had Bipolar offering suggestions and sharing our experiences. With a simple question, those who would have otherwise stayed silent, spoke up and made themselves known, adding they were available to talk anytime. Through this I now have a few more friends to talk to and share experiences, both good and bad.
There are countless articles on the web that offer positives for those with mental illness to be on-line.
According to www.mentalhelp.net, the connections we make online can reduce depression and anxiety, social media allows interaction with others without the stress of face-to-face interactions, these interactions alone can often bring on anxiety. In addition, Facebook has countless support groups for those struggling with illnesses and feel alone. Personally, I have used them and they are especially helpful when you live in an area where there are no meetings available, or prefer to remain anonymous while remaining socially connected, without the stigma that is often attached to mental illness.
www.paintedbrain.com, agree, saying that social media can be quite helpful when it comes to staying motivated to achieve healthy goals and receiving positive reinforcements from online support groups. By having others help you stay accountable it can increase the chances of staying on track and reaching out when you need it most. These individuals and groups can help take the loneliness out of mental illness.
The examples could continue, but I think you have the idea of how of social media can, in many ways help in our struggle when we feel most alone. Being able to reach out and not be faced with the stigma, in itself is one of the best reasons to speak up.