Social Media as a Therapy Tool

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Social media.  Some people hate it. Others divulge all their secrets, day-to-day activities and post pictures of memorable life moments almost at the speed of light.

 Not everything we read, we like. I know I’m not the only one who sighs and says, “O-M-G! Again? You’re at the Wal-Mart again? Who cares?!” It’s OK to admit that. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say I post the most ridiculous, mind numbing, jaw dropping, dumbest things on Facebook 90% of the time. I’m not ashamed. Don’t like it? Hide my fucking feed. The other 10% of the things I post are to uplift, inspire and make people smile.

About seven months ago I received a private message from a friend. I only knew her from a mental health support group that I had been an administrator in. We kept in touch after I left the group. Often she would post random threads about how “off” she was feeling. Down in the dumps, depressed and so on. The majority of the responses were very positive with offers to talk or message if she needed it. Helping her remember how much she had to live for.

When I received the PM asking me for reassurance that she would be OK even though she had just taken the equivalent of 24,000mg (YES. You read that right!) of acetaminophen (Tylenol), I panicked a little. My nursing instincts kicked in and the FDA warning of only 4,000mg in 24-hours loomed above my third eye. My internal friend instincts kicked in and I knew I had to find where she was and get her help immediately. Even though she expressed she now didn’t want to die, she was hoping beyond hope she would be OK. She wouldn’t if she didn’t get medical attention right away. If she did survive she was sure to have multiple health issues, liver failure being one.

I didn’t KNOW her, had only spoken with her but as a fellow depression, anxiety and Bipolar sufferer, I understood exactly why she had done what she did. The good thing out of this reaching out for help episode was that she actually had reached out. The bad part? I had no clue where in her huge state she lived except for a snippet of Facebook Check-ins from years past.

After searching through her Facebook Pictures and finally coming to the conclusion that a man she had tagged in many pictures was her husband I went to his profile and got a town name. Most people these days don’t have the time to update personal info but thank God he had. While keeping her chatting without letting on that I was trying to call for help, I reached out over 2,000 miles away to law enforcement in her area. Fire stations, police departments, crisis centers and finally the sheriffs department of her county. Thankfully she had an unusual last name and they “thought” they might know her.

If you’ve ever had a well check done on someone you know where you live, you know it’s quite easy to be honest. Try telling a nonchalant deputy over the phone that you have a Facebook friend who just overdosed on Tylenol, you don’t know where she lives, you only know her from a mental health group but you need someone to please find her and get her help. Of course I got the sighs and heavy pauses of someone who probably thinks social media is a waste of time and what not but I didn’t care. My friend needed help and if she didn’t want to live why would she have sought it through me. No. I’m not a hero. I didn’t do it for fame or accolade. I did it because it’s what I would have wanted someone to do for me. You’re probably asking, “What about her family?” They were there. I’ll answer that question in just a minute.Sad woman

Thankfully, the deputy was nice enough to call me back and let me know they had her on the way to the hospital and that she was safe.

Six  months went by. I heard nothing of her. No posts from her on Facebook, no PM’s. I sent the occasional Hope you’re doing OK,” messages and quite frankly I thought she might be mad at me. A lot of people are because of the embarrassment of what they attempted sets in. It’s not always embarrassing until your nagging family who is ignorant and trying to ignore what you’re going through, get’s a hold of your brain and mind fucks you.

A month ago I received a comment on a post I put up. I can’t remember exactly what it was now but there she was! She’d been in the state hospital for 5 months and had gotten treatment, her meds re-adjusted and was back home with her children and husband and was doing well. You can’t imagine the relief I felt when I read that. She was OK!

Fast forward to yesterday. She posted that she was feeling down in the dumps. Sinking into that black hole, the hole that most of us sufferers of mental illness call depression. The first initial responses were from friends like me, encouraging her and letting her know that we were there for her. She was thankful. I really think she just needed to vent her depression to people who understood. Lo and behold though came the comments from her family.

Those ignorant fucktards that are so embarrassed that their sister or daughter has a mental illness. I wanted to scream! I wanted to actually post to them what ignorant, silly, non-caring individuals they were but that would have caused a shitstorm. I’m all for causing trouble for myself, but not someone else. Especially someone who is fragile from dealing with a recent lengthy hospital stay.

finger pointing

The point of my piece is this. How dare you, friends and ESPECIALLY family members condemn those of us dealing with these issues,  try to deny or push us away from reaching out for help, whether it be a suicidal cry for help or just needing an ear. How dare you. I’ve been accused of being a drama queen or attention whore when I post that I’m down. Thankfully most of my family has been blocked EXACTLY because of this kind of behavior. It is so frustrating to see so many friends give support to her, yet here’s the words her sister and her mother typed to her yesterday:

“This his is ur sister n u promised me ud call me or someone else instead of posting things stay strong get threw tonite n tomo will b a diff day I promise! I love u sista.”

Ok sure she may have promised you at some point exactly what you just said, but when we are in a moment of desperation, sometimes we fall back on the encouragement we need. People who understand. No, I don’t know if she called her sister. Maybe her sister said all the things she didn’t need or want to hear. Maybe nobody picked up. Yet still her mom says this:

“I wish you wouldn’t post this private stuff honey! Call your counselors.”

Well excuse the hell out of me but my counselor isn’t available at 8:56pm on a Saturday night. Maybe some are. If you are so ashamed that you are asking someone to NOT post this “private stuff”, then butt out. Again, not to be a hero but where the hell were you two when my friend took all those Tylenol? If she hadn’t’ reached out she might be dead. The funny part is, you’d be saying to yourself, “Ooooh if only she had said something!” Well she’s saying something. She’s also teaching others that it’s OK to stand up and hold your hand out for help.

And I told her just that this morning. She will read this because I asked her permission to share the story without adding names. She knows that what she did was OK. It was OK to tell others she was starting to slip again.

Just take a moment and think of how many people don’t reach out because of this very issue. How many people sit alone and feel isolated every single second of the day because ignorant people choose to not open their eyes and admit there is a problem. The problem can’t be cured but it can be helped. Offering your shoulder or ear is a really great fucking place to start.

Thank you friend for letting me share this story. I am so very proud of you. You’ll never know how much you’ve inspired me.

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