This morning I woke up particularly irritable. After checking facebook (something I’ve fallen back into for some reason) and finding the first three stories wildly stigmatizing mental health I growled to myself and poised my fingers on my phone. What did I want? Retribution. I wanted these three ignorant posters to be told what for, and I wanted to do the telling.
Instead of laying into them with my I can’t believe you are so quick to alienate people with mental illness rant I scrolled down. The next post was from someone I know lives with mental health issues, and it was a rant about their depression.
There is an old saying that goes,
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
This is the advice I have been trying to follow the last several weeks while experiencing gut-wrenching depression. When I am irritated (and I do get irritated) by everyone around me, my first reaction is to yell, kick, scream, and punch my way through the situation. Instead, this mental filter has left me sitting primarily in silence, but much less ashamed of my own actions.
After all, with the internet and social media these days (blogs included), how easy is it to use these platforms to purge yourself of the frustration, irritability, and depression we feel on a regular basis?
When we do, the not having something nice to say seems to apply, because these situations of emotional venting alienate people. Let’s face it, as much as we’d like to believe that greater society can handle people talking about their feelings to a greater audience, the internet does not always convey the vulnerability that comes with sharing these things. It isn’t uncommon for bullies (or people who simply say whatever is on their mind) to leave mean, hurtful comments in these situations. I mean, as many positive comments I’ve received on this blog, I’ve gotten the hurtful ones too. For someone who is feeling upset enough to be ranting about their feelings on the internet, these comments can be seemingly twice as poisonous.
What I’m not suggesting is this; if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
This phrase can work as a guideline to remind me not to spew my feelings everywhere, but I completely disagree that one shouldn’t say anything at all.
A bit over ten years ago when I began having bipolar symptoms, I poured many of my feelings of frustration and depression into a blog. While this alleviated some of pressure that was building inside of me, none of the people who read the blog knew what to do about my quickly unraveling mental health. It often felt like I was reaching out, putting myself out there, being vulnerable, almost asking for help, but nobody helped me. No mystical internet fairy came to my aid, and even though I was sharing with people, they weren’t the people that could actually help me.
I think it is very important that if you feel depressed or angry or frustrated, you express it in some healthy way. Don’t say nothing at all. The key is expressing it in a healthy way. Express it to someone who can listen and give you support in return, because though comments from the internet can be supportive, they can also be a real bitch.
Talk to a family member, a friend, a therapist, a doctor, a teacher, a co-worker, someone else you know with bipolar disorder, anyone you feel like you can trust. If you don’t feel like there is anyone in your life that can give you that support, call a hotline -I promise there will be a supportive, active listener on the other end that will treat you with the respect you deserve.
You could email these people, sure, but it wont have the impact sharing would have if you talked to someone. Actually talk, with your mouth. Typing these thoughts and feelings out without any supportive feedback could potentially set them on a loop in your head. By saying them out loud to someone, it is very likely you will recognize just how little some of these thoughts brought on by depression make sense.
While it has been helpful to me to share less of those unfriendly feelings with the world, I think the real lesson is that if you are having thoughts and feelings brought on by depression or mixed episodes, if you feel the need to share them, share them with someone you trust.