I just posted an Instagram live on this topic that will be available to watch for the next 24 hours & then available on my IGTV.
I am not a therapist or a trained mental health professional but I have training in mental health first aid.
When I was in high school I was never talked to about how to talk to someone who has depression or anxiety. Then I began to struggle with my own depression/anxiety when I turned 16/17, and it became even more difficult to talk about the subject because I was beginning to deal with both in full force. I remember being 17, living at home still and dealing with the worst bout of depression I’ve ever faced. It was absolutely terrible. I had booked a TV segment in Connecticut and I remember feeling so down that I don’t even know how I got up and went on TV. I could barely get out of bed, I had 0 emotions and my parents were so concerned about me. Usually when you’re in a dark spot it’s almost if not impossible to get up but I knew that by not getting up I was losing out on money I needed and people who I couldn’t deal with letting down. Sometimes letting other people down is much harder to battle than letting yourself down. Realistically there was nothing anyone could’ve said to help me overcome that period of time, but I wish I had been strong enough to reach out and ask for help.
I handle my anxiety now with therapy and meditation, which I talk about openly because both RULE! Meditation is much cheaper than therapy, so check out Headspace if you haven’t already because even though I’m a big advocate for therapy, it’s not cheap.
Anyway, when I’ve had periods of time where I’m so anxious or depressed it’s hard for someone to help you get out of that state. If you’ve personally dealt with either or have friends who have either, you know that trying to get someone to stop being anxious or depressed is almost impossible. It’s up to that person to find a way to get through that dark time. Whether that’s therapy or medicine, we all have something we have to do everyday to get through the day! That’s totally OK.
But what about those who don’t deal with depression or anxiety, haven’t dealt with trauma or an abusive relationship (etc.) and see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps your friend is posting pictures or tweets about harming themselves or even something about how alone they’re feeling? The difficult thing to realize about social media is that it’s not real life. As much as people take social media seriously, there is real life and there is your life on social media. Tweeting or posting your feelings online is like screaming from the top of the highest mountain. Though someone down on the ground may hear you, they aren’t going to have the resources to climb up that mountain and save you. There’s a lot of reasons why I don’t post my relationships or much about my family online and it’s because I have an incredibly difficult family situation and I also don’t find the need to promote any relationship I have online. I think the reason for that is because I know when I’m single that seeing beautiful pictures of couples in their relationships makes me sad and know what I’m missing out on, but that’s just me! I never want to give someone else the negative feelings I’ve dealt with! Kudos to those who do post their more personal relationships online, it’s just not my style.
The BEST thing you can say to someone who is using social media to cope is that you’re simply there for them. Now, this isn’t something I’d openly leave a comment about or reply publicly to a tweet, but this is something I’d do via FB messenger, Twitter messenger or even an Instagram DM. Even though this person is using social media to talk about their feelings, they may not realize that there are people out there listening and you don’t want to offend or embarrass anyone by calling them out on their public post. If someone is feeling lonely, they should know that millions of people in the world are feeling lonely too. How cool would it be if everyone could be friends and nice to each other in the world and then we’d all be friends and probably wouldn’t feel as lonely? I dream about that!
The worst thing you can say is nothing. This person may despise you, hate you, block and unfollow you, or tell you to get the f*** out of their business, but you’ll feel better having said something. Wouldn’t you want someone to say something to you if you were dealing with something? I know I would. Reaching out for help is scary, not saying anything can lead to someone self-harming and that’s even scarier.
A great sentence to say (feel free to copy and paste this one) is…
Hey! I saw your (post, video, pic) and I just wanted to reach out and say that I’m here for you if you want to talk! I’ve dealt with a lot of sad days (don’t lie and say you’ve dealt with anxiety and depression if you have not) and they suck, so maybe we can chat on the days we’re both feeling down!
Voila. Easy as pie. Don’t expect this person to reciprocate your enthusiasm but you’ve done your part to help someone know that they are not alone.
Use your voice and social media to spread positivity and impact someone for the better.