Signposts Along the Social Media Superhighway: A Brief Guide for Social Media and Mental Illness

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Sometimes closing the book on social media can be beneficial. Photo by Pixabay.com.

I want to continue with the social media theme I started yesterday. I also want to build on past posts, where I’ve talked about how dangerous social media is, since most people only post their high points, which can be particularly difficult to see if you are stuck in a low moment. I’ve also said before that these criticisms of social media aren’t meant to dissuade anyone from using it. After all, social media is an incredibly powerful way to reach people who otherwise might not leave their house, to offer encouragement from afar, and to connect with one another, regardless of how isolated we feel. It just means that those of us struggling with mental illnesses should be careful how we use social media. 

“It is hard to hear about your depression. But I’d rather hear about your depression than your suicide.”

  • For starters, don’t go on your main news feed when you are in a depressive episode. I would say stay off social media altogether, but there are some beneficial mental health support groups out there. Limit your social media usage to those groups if possible. 
  • Secondly, don’t be afraid to be open about your struggles on social media. This one is hard, and should only be done when you are sure you are ready to open up. Yet when you do, it is incredibly therapeutic. Since I have opened up, I have connected with people, both strangers and friends, who have struggled themselves and who can relate to what I am saying. And even those who haven’t struggled themselves have often been incredibly supportive. 

I want to emphasize that last point by sharing one of my favorite quotes, which was shared in response to me being so open and honest. “Yes, it is hard to hear about your depression. But I’d rather hear about your depression than your suicide.” 

We are a social species. Rather than be turned away by your mental illness, the people in your tribe will more than likely rally to your side to lend support if your struggling. And social media is an invaluable tool for making those connections. Although I live in Illinois, friends from the east coast, friends from the west coast, and even friends who are overseas, have all been able to be supportive, and I could not be more thankful for that.

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There are many paths that can be followed in the wilderness of social media. Be sure to follow your own mental health sign posts to avoid the hazardous paths. Photo by James Wheeler via Pexels.com

Social media is like a superhighway, often congested with the traffic of people’s positive news. When you are struggling, be sure to follow the signposts that steer you away from these posts, since they are likely to only deepen your sense of isolation. Yet with savvy social media use, you can get the help and support you need from social media, support that can help pull you out of the darkness. And news like that is worth sharing.

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