CW: Depression. Suicide.
Two weeks ago, I took a break from Facebook. I posted well in advance that I was taking a break from it for probably a month. My selfcontrol around social media, specifically Facebook and the comments (oh the comments) was exacerbating my current mental health slump. So I said enough and backed off. Three things happened.
1. (Almost) No One Cared
I posted something along the lines of this: I will be taking an indefinite break from Facebook due to serious mental health concerns. If you’d like my email or phone number to keep in touch, PM me before tomorrow.
Out of all my many contacts, across three pages and my personal profile only FIVE people responded. And of those five, three asked if I would still be on messenger.
I felt even more alone than I did when I was lost in the sea of comments, memes, and trending posts. Where were all my so called friends? People that I KNOW in person care about me, but beyond the odd like here and there, have been radio silent during my struggle.
2. Unsolicited Medical Advice
After being off of Facebook for two weeks, I shared on Twitter that I’ve been battling suidical ideation and depression for a while. I disclosed about my battle with weight gain and how to get my life back I needed drastic changes—including deleting Facebook.
Within minutes I had multiple messages filled with advice on diets, treatment, counselling, nutrition, wellness gimmicks, and many other unsolicited solutions.
Here’s why that’s harmful: to offer unsolicited advice assumes that the person hasn’t already done the work. It reinforces the “try harder” model of recovery that has been proven ineffective without a holistic approach. Fact is, I’ve been on this journey much longer than has been public and have a better grasp on what’s available in my city and for my needs than those who have been wall flowers in my life.
After a lengthy set of conversations over messenger, and Instagram, I was drained and cried out. I felt the need to defend my right to privacy of treatment even though I was being open about my struggle. Sharing where I am at is not the same as inviting advice.
I posted an update set to friends only with my email, and PM’d a few close friends my phone number and told people to contact me that way. This time, though no one emailed, six friends responded to by texting me.
3. Radio Silence
Though the constant input of information and outrage culture is gone, my phone and inbox are dead silent. I pulled away, and next to no one followed. The ones that did, are the ones that are in the same boat as me health wise. They have a lot going on in their personal and professional lives and cannot carry the burden of another unwell friend.
This concerns me a bit. Where the healthy people at? And are there any?
We tell folx to reach out, to share when they are struggling. We affirm over and over again that we are here for them. If you need anything, just let me know—we say. Yet here I am, and countless others are, shouting in every direction that we are not okay. We long for people to reach out at talk with us without the agenda of offering solutions. We want someone who will sit in the muck with us without the expecation of improvement. We want someone who will order skip the dishes to our house, or come over and do the dishes and leave, or bring a coffee without being asked, or just text us mundane stuff throughout the day so we feel connected.
What even is support?
Support looks different for different people. One thing it is absolutely not is “have you tried….”, “did you consider…..”, “eat/read/do/listen/ ……..”. It’s “hey I’m thinking of you”, a text of your pet or child doind something silly, a snail mail letter, a long rambling email, human connection—it’s the anticipation of a loved one’s physical and emotional needs and meeting them if you’re able—it’s love.
When someone is suicidal or depressed, they need unconditional solution free love. If it weren’t for the unconditional love of my partner and three friends, I wouldn’t be here.