Here’s the thing about mental health illnesses: They make you feel pretty isolated.
When I was diagnosed with depression, I had so many questions – why me? How did I get here? What do I do now?
I didn’t think I could talk to anyone I knew, because how do you just casually drop mental health into a conversation? Moreover, it was tougher because I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it; I was ashamed and scared.
So I did what everyone does: I turned to the internet.
I’d already set up a Tumblr account to help with my writing but I decided to see whether it could aid me with my mental health too. From what I’d seen, depression and other illnesses were discussed much more freely on Tumblr than anywhere else. It’s so much easier to discuss such personal and sensitive topics behind a computer screen.
So I searched for depression, hoping to come across some points of views that I could relate to or something to just give me a clue about what to do. Tumblr has this useful thing for when you search for concerning topics. Before it takes you to the search results page a little notice pops up, asking you if you are okay. It refers you to two websites; imalive and 7 cups of tea which both offer online therapy and counseling.
At the time, I was too freaked out to take up either one of these so I can’t tell you how well they work. Tumblr also recommends some blogs that are supportive and helpful.
There are so many blogs on mental health and depression. At a first glance, I thought this was amazing. I could relate to so many people and I didn’t feel so alone. But I also realized early on that with this came a danger of getting romanticizing these illnesses. There are a great number of blogs with poetry and posts outlining mental health but in a negative way. Depression is generally a negative thing and although I could relate to these, I chose not to follow them.
The whole point of me getting onto the internet was to find a way to cope with mental health. I wanted to eventually get better. A lot of these blogs were just bleak and although I agreed with them, I don’t think it would have helped. I didn’t need to continuously read posts about how everything was awful.
My brain was already telling me this all the time.
However, whilst on this search, I did come across some pretty awesome blogs. I found tips for depression and beating depression which just gave little bits of advice and helpful tips on how to deal with the negativity that comes with depression. I also came across disintegrated sanity where you could submit questions or how you were feeling the person behind the Tumblr would try and help you the best they could. What I really liked about this one was that it also had posts telling you how to go about discussing mental illnesses with friends and family. I found depression resource, which honestly was so helpful, it has a master post which refers you to pages on everything from recipes to coping with depression and suicidal thoughts.
Tumblr is kind of awesome for having accepting and super-kind people – as long as you are following the right kind of blogs and posting positive things. So I got to know a few other people who were in the same boat as I was and were trying to get better. It was such a relief to not feel like I was alone. At that time, I had spent ages thinking about how something was so wrong with me.
I didn’t realize that mental health problems were pretty common but we just didn’t discuss them as much as we needed to.
Obviously, as with everything on the internet, it is important to be careful and not share too many details. There are some sick people who prey on people with mental health issues and the internet can sometimes make us more vulnerable. I kept my personal details to a minimum, but I still made impacting friendships.
I even became friends with a girl whose real name I still don’t know. She sends me pictures of her rabbits when I’m sad, and I send her pictures of my cats when she is sad.
By talking to these people and following these blogs, I realized that it was possible to live with depression, it wasn’t the end of the world. I learned different methods of coping, but most importantly I had people who understood and were there when things got too much. It was like I had a little community of people who weren’t judgemental or awkward, they just got it.
I did eventually talk to people in real life and seek other types of help. But honestly, I can’t be grateful enough to Tumblr for providing me with this safe space when I was still trying to figure things out.