Alright, this post is half serious and half giving a finger to the haters. I’m gonna go ahead and make it weird by doing a little Q&A about me by me.
Is everyone going to get on board with mental health? No.
Is everyone going to understand invisible illnesses? Of course not.
Does that bother me? If I’m being honest, then yes. If I’m being realistic, then no.
Am I really trying to change anyone’s mind? No. And not because I don’t want to, but because it’s not possible.
I know this topic is going to bring about a knee jerk reaction of “but don’t let it bother you,” and “the haters don’t matter.” And I know those reactions are coming from a place of being uncomfortable in the unpleasant emotions. However, I want to encourage all of us that it is okay to feel our distressing feelings. It is more than okay; it is necessary.
Avoiding our initial reaction is what takes us down those dark, winding, difficult to maneuver, gravel roads. On the contrary, when we sit in the tension and allow ourselves (and each other) to acknowledge our pain, well, I think that is what promotes our inner peace and overall healing. It reminds us that we can trust our gut instincts. And we should use those instincts to explore our moral compasses and our personal values.
So that’s what we are going to do.
Without further ado…
Interesting fact: the posts I start out writing and the blogs I actually hit the publish button on, are often very different pieces. If I’m being honest (and I’m nothing if not honest) then this post was initially consumed by ‘F‘ bombs followed by some harsh comparisons intertwined with immature insults. For no other reason than I was angry. No. I was fucking pissed off. Like chest burning, adrenaline pumping, bring out the torches because I’m about to set some things on fire, angry. But anger is a secondary emotion. Meaning I needed to peel away the layers and discover what was fueling the anger. I needed to bask in it and explore it and be honest in it. And then rephrase it.
Here’s my toned down, rephrasing of the situation.
It turns out I am discouraged. And hurt. It also turns out that anger is an easier expression of those uneasy, yet truthful, responses. You know the ones that leave us feeling vulnerable because we admitted that something pierced through our ever protective steel-like armor and rudely interrupted our fiercely sought after calm.
Oh, context would be helpful. Like what am I even talking about.
Okay. Here’s the background story. A larger publication picked up my PTSD piece.
Insert all the ‘I feel like a legit writer’ feels here.
And I was absolutely grateful that they found enough value in my words and my story to share it on their website page. Now, I did have to tone it down and reword it slightly because I have a tendency to be vulgar (it’s part of my charm). But I think the heart of the piece remained intact.
Anyway, it was also shared on their social media pages and of course the attention seeking whore side of me got super excited and I was all like a dog sniffing out validation. I went and did the one thing I speak out against.
I read the comments.
I know, I know. I’m also an emotional massichist.
Overall, the comments seemed to be coming from other brave warriors who felt my pain and validated it by sharing their own. They responded from a place of love and support and empathy. And I thought,
“it’s not just me who struggles. It.is.not.just.me.”
Fuck, that’s a powerful and intoxicating notion.
But theeee-en, of course, came the trolls. The ones who insert their opinion just to rile up the masses. And dammit if it doesn’t work.
I got riled up.
There are all kinds of trolls that we know and love and have regrettably had the non-pleasure of interacting with. We’ve gotten sucked into their bullshit and felt all the side effects of the emotional hurricane it stirs within us. So, before I get into the meat of the matter, let’s explore the different kinds of trolls that exist on the internet.
The Dickhead Troll. Straight up assholes who are literally so mean that you know they are just there to start shit. They are so ridiculous in their commentary that they don’t even deserve the dignity of getting a response. Funnily enough, I find it easy to ignore them.
The Faux Supporter Troll. These are the ones who act like they are being supportive. Like they get you and what you are saying, but also they question if your experience was really that bad and did it really warrant the feelings you felt? Ya know, they know someone who went through the same thing and that person that they know had a different reaction. So obvi that’s the only reaction that anyone in said situation will ever have ever in the world.
The WTF Are You Even Saying Troll. These trolls are just circle talkers. They use big words in long sentences that seem like they sound good but when strung together don’t actually mean anything.
The Gas Lighter Troll. They just come across all mean and ignorant. They go for the glory of the reaction. They want to provoke you with their commentary.
And it works.
And you respond.
And then they don’t even understand why you’re upset or why you felt the need to respond to them. They didn’t mean to imply what you think they implicated. You should just ignore them in the same manner that you told them to ignore what they are commenting on.
It’s not them, it’s you.
The Toxic Masculinity Troll. These trolls. Insert smh here. They want everyone to “man up” and or “get over it.” They want people to stop being so sensitive and to stop demanding respect. Like what kind of decent human being wants to be heard? They want everyone to bend over and take it because their egos are too fragile to handle the possibility that the problem is actually them.
Now here’s the thing. I know (like am acutely aware of the fact) that not everyone is going to give me a pat on the back for sharing my story. In fact, most people won’t. After all, if most people did praise me for bringing awareness to mental health then we wouldn’t need to be shattering any stigmas now would we?
Most of the time I don’t know why I’m writing. I don’t know why I share things that are hard to share. I don’t know if my teeny tiny online and community presence can actually make a difference. Maybe I just have an underlying need be seen and feel seen. Maybe I am in fact, an attention seeking whore?
Don’t answer that.
Oooooor maybe I just think to myself that it would have been nice to have known that people hurt the way I hurt. That they responded to trauma the way I responded. Maybe then I wouldn’t have spent 23 years of my life in the bitter dark pits of depression.
Every time I think the consequences of sharing my story outweigh the benefits and I’m ready to throw in the towel and say, “fuck humanity,” someone reaches out to me and gives a thoughtful: “thank you for sharing said story”. Or they tell me: “it would be a shame if you quit writing” because like it or not, words matter.
To be honest, I think they are the whispers. The angels in disguise. The ones that keep me going. I have spoken before how a viral post will garner overall praise and a non-viral post will garner overall pity. But in the gathering of pity for those of us who “aren’t going anywhere,” there are a select few who will feel seen when they read or hear our story. Maybe even just one other person will be on the other end of the screen or whatever communication method they are utilizing and God dammit, they are worth it too.
One person is worth it.
Look, I am not here to please the masses or collect accolades (despite my people pleasing nature and my reaction to trolls). I am here to share the story of how I have survived- and continue to survive- clinically diagnosed PTSD and clinically diagnosed persistent depressive disorder.
I was talking to a dear friend recently who said social media saved them. It brought awareness to issues they didn’t know were true medical issues. It has helped them to feel connected and more aware of treatment options.
I’m 99 percent sure my jaw hit the floor when they revealed this revelation to me. Honestly, I had never considered that social media could be a positive place. I guess I figured it could have its positive moments but I assumed overall we were all spending way too much emotional energy trying to be positive about the effects of online connection. I figured we all knew how fucking ugly it was out there but we were drawn to the drama anyway.
My friend’s statement made me think (as one does when one is given a point that one has never considered) and wonder if maybe I have been too harsh to the online realm.
I really (really, really) do want social media to be a positive place where we can swap stories and trade encouraging words and connect with others who see the world as we see it. And maybe on like a really (really, really) good day, it can give someone the opportunity to understand us or better yet, themselves.
We have gotten into this awful habit of saying that “sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us”. The person who came up with that must have been the ultimate asshole and I call bullshit because words are some of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. I mean, global power is accumulated by the words of world leaders for God’s sake. And I’m just a wee bit sick of people reinforcing the false narrative that words don’t matter. I think we would have less school bullies and online dickheads if we just agreed that what we say does have an impact and maybe we aren’t responsible for how people respond, but we are responsible for what we say.
I know. That’s a complicated concept to wrap a mind around. It a dialectical thought and those are gray and messy. I am learning that the collective ‘we’ find gray to be the most blinding color.
So. On this mental health Monday I would love to proposition you. Maybe this week you will come across an article that has a heading that gives you a strong emotional reaction. Maybe you go against your better judgement and read the comment section of said article. Maybe you will “see” trolls working overtime to tear down the people who can relate to the emotionally charged post . I would like to invite you
to kindly tell them to fuck off to be an advocate for both the story teller and the ones who connect with their narrative.
There is a person behind every story. And every person (and their story) matters.
Let people find their people. Let others express themselves without the fear of retaliation. Let people ask for help for Christ’s sake. Start equating reaching out for help with a beautiful and insatiable desire to live wholly and peacefully.
So, let’s just be nicer about it. Especially online. Mmm-kay? Thanks, bye.
You know when I first read the negative leaning comments, I started replying to them.
One by one.
And then after I hit “reply” I realized that there is absolutely no point in spending emotional energy on internet trolls.
And promptly deleted all responses.
But I did leave one comment in response to an individual who was seemingly questioning the credibility of my experience. For me, that by itself is an emotional trigger.
I responded with my credentials and I left it there. But it is a shame that a person’s story, their experience with PTSD, is not enough to satisfy the skeptics. They want proof of a medical diagnosis or clinical degree to validate a survivor and their experience(s).
I guess I just want to end with this thought: triggers are what people say they are. No, you can’t tip toe around everyone. Sure, something that was not intended to be triggering can trigger someone and it’s no one’s fault. But at the same time, since we have the world of information at our fingertips, does it really hurt to add the words Trigger Warning when you are rehashing trauma?
Also, that was rhetorical because if you are a decent human being then you know that no, it doesn’t.
Believe survivors. When someone tells you they are in pain, believe them. Don’t question the severity of their trauma as if there is a trauma threshold we have to cross before we are allowed to admit it hurts or to ask for help or to talk about it.
Also, if you’re interested in the comment thread I’m talking about I’ll link it here. But also, if comments upset you, then it’s really not worth clicking. Honor yourself. You are not missing anything by not reading it.
On the other hand, if you just like ‘hot gos,’ then go for it.