I have a bit of a love hate relationship with social media; in particular with Twitter. I also have depression.
Like many people with mental health problems, I have found a wonderfully supportive community of people, many of them who are fighting their own demons, but who take the time out to utter a few words of encouragement because they can empathise because of their own circumstances. Even when I have been at my most out of love with Twitter, the community has always been there. There are people, far to numerous to mention individually, who have helped me through some of the darkest and lowest periods of my life, and I cannot express how grateful I am for their support.
There are many, like me, who use Twitter in good times and bad; sharing both our joys and our sorrows. Sadly, that can sometimes be its biggest problem instead of its greatest strength.
It’s a symptom of many mental health issues that, at their worst, you feel as if you are the only one in pain; that no one else can possibly understand the sheer hell that your life is and the constant torment and anguish that accompanies the very act of living. People like me who use Twitter as their platform to howl at the moon can, possibly, be guilty of over-sharing. It’s not deliberate, it’s just our mental pain can sometimes blind us to the pain and suffering of others. Flip side of the coin being that it deepens our empathy and causes us to take their pains and worries and couple them with our own.
It’s a fine line to walk. I have, on occasion, been accused of being a self-obsessed attention seeker when I am at my lowest. When I return from the depths to the shallows that I more frequently inhabit, I can understand why people might think that. Depression and other mental health conditions do tend to make you focus your attention inwards. Sufferers look inward, seeing their own faults magnified, we withdraw, we shut others out, we lose interest in the world around us, encased in our impenetrable shell of darkness. There are times when I cannot think of others because I need to concentrate all of my energy and attention on just getting myself through the day. What, from the outside may look like selfishness and self-absorption is, more accurately, simply survival.
Sometimes I need to withdraw from the community that otherwise supports and sustains me. Sometimes I need to do it for my own peace of mind, and at other times I do it to avoid inflicting the very worst of myself on people whose own stability could really do without being burdened by my woes as well as their own.
Twitter is a fantastic source of solace an succour from people who know and understand the battles people fight with their demons, because they do so themselves. It can, however, also seem like the darkest of places, when all around is doom and misery.
Writing this, the love/hate isn’t actually, I realise, directed at Twitter; it is more a reflection of my own emotional state and the way I feel about myself. There are days when I hate myself more or less than others. There are days when the world will bring me down, and others where I owe it to the world to stay in hibernation until the worst has passed.
Mental health issues are definitely no picnic but, having said that, knowing the type of people who make up my audience, I suspect anyone reading this already knows that.