Talking about mental health on social media

This is why we rarely talk about mental health on social media {Heather's Handmade Life}

I’ve been having some bad days, and this is why you didn’t hear about them.

I’m writing this post because I put a lamp in the kitchen. It looks terrible and doesn’t fit in, but I needed to be able to turn off all the overhead lights.

I needed the soft glow of nothing but a lamp — I LOVE LAMPS — so I could make some sort of food for my children, and get the kitchen to an acceptable state. Both tasks felt insurmountable without the softness of that lamp-light, and noise-cancelling headphones firmly clamped on my ears.

This is why we rarely talk about mental health on social media {Heather's Handmade Life}
The kitchen lamp that goes with nothing, but means everything.

It’s hard to talk about mental health on social media sometimes, but not for the reason you might think.

It’s not stigma. Thankfully, people are cooler than ever about talking about mental health. It’s not because I don’t want people to know I have depression and anxiety. It’s not because taking anti-depressants is a scary secret — I pop those orange pills every damn morning.

I have no problem talking online about my mental health … except when I’m in the thick of a bad spell.

For the most part, you don’t see me blogging or sharing on social very much about my mental health … unless it’s a feel-good “doing’ thing for my mental health” kind of post or an “oh look at me all anxious LOL” kind of post. Maybe a quote with a very vague caption that doesn’t give too much away.

Do you know what the reason is?

The pity sympathy.
The awkwardness.
The discomfort.

I DON’T WANT IT.
But there it is.

This is why we rarely talk about mental health on social media {Heather's Handmade Life}
Taken while sitting on the floor, staring into space, in the dark.

You see, it all depends on the type of social media-er that you are.

I’m not the person who posts their every move on Facebook. Correction, I USED to be that person back in my early 20s, judging from the annoying statuses that keep popping in my “On this day” section. (I had some really dumb statuses, you guys.)

When people ARE the type to post EVERY SINGLE LITTLE FEELING — good, bad, bored, happy, excited, tired, etc. — it’s actually pretty chill to post about your mental health because you’re always putting your feelings out there. If you have a status like “Ugh feeling depressed today,” you’ll get the odd comment but it’s not going to be a big deal.

While I *go* on Facebook a lot, it’s mostly for work or to scroll through my newsfeed — read articles, watch videos, etc. I’m not a big status-updater. So when I have a bad day, it would be completely unnatural to go on Facebook and let it all out. “Aughhhhhhh I’m having the worst week! I can barely function and I just want to sit in the dark and stare into space. I don’t care about anything and it’s hell getting through the day.”

It would feel like a cry for attention.

It would make people squirm. It would be a weird departure from pretty DIYs and funny parenting commentary. The comments would surely trickle in. (“Stay strong!” “You’re doing such a good job, Mama!” “Take care of yourself. xo”) I’d get lots of “love” reactions on the post. I’d get some PMs from people who wanted to send an extra-heartfelt message. I’d get texts from friends and family saying they didn’t know I was having such a hard time — asking if I want to talk about it. It would all be very sweet and no one would have ill intentions.

But …

There would also be discomfort.

I’ve seen it in their faces. I’ve watched eyes flicker nervously because they don’t know if they should cheerfully bring it up or DEFINITELY NOT BRING IT UP, and the uncertainty makes us both uncomfortable. I smile at them as we chat about whatever, and you can practically SEE the thoughts running through their brain.

She seems OK!
Maybe she’s better today?
Should I say something?
Wow, you’d really never know.

People who do not have depression and/or anxiety — as a rule — do not understand it, and therefore aren’t sure how to respond. I totally get it! It’s like how I get super uncomfortable talking to someone who has a serious illness or medical problem. I feel like I SHOULD say something about it, but I’m scared to say the wrong thing. I’m the worst at it, actually.

I’m really happy we, as a society, are at a point where it’s cool to talk about mental health. Really, we have made HUGE strides. But we aren’t all the way there yet.

***

There is a difference between openly admitting you have depression, anxiety, take antidepressants, etc. — which can make you feel like a strong badass who’s spreading awareness about mental health — and actually admitting you are having a hard time IN THE MOMENT — which can make you feel like a miserable mess who’s just looking for attention.

***

I’m not writing this post for attention.
I’m writing this post because THIS is the hard part we have to all get better about. If we’re going to really talk about mental health, it can’t just be those uplifting statuses and the odd #realtalk post that quickly gets deleted because you’re worried it’s too personal.
I’m writing this post to say, Hey, I’m in the moment. I’m having a hard time. It sucks! It’s not easy to talk about. But yeah, I’m still “me” and we’ll still chat normally. You don’t need to act differently or feel uncomfortable. It is what it is, and I don’t want to pretend otherwise. It’s important that we’re all cool talking about mental health ALL of the time. K thanks! 

xo

So what do you think?

%d bloggers like this: