Well again I have to say I really hate these so called mental health support groups on facebook! Now I know why I run lists and why the people who’ve joined my lists are happy here.
In my quest to let others know about my blog I joined several facebook groups one called anxiety and depression outlet and another called depression suicide and mental illness support. I was surprised to see that each of these groups had over a thousand members! How can anyone get to know anyone else with that incredibly ridiculously huge of a group? Even with a ton of admins it’s impossible to keep everything under control.
I think that all of my posts to either introduce myself or ask a question or post a link to my blog have gone so far down the list of posts that I never find them. When I do not surprisingly there are no comments. It’s just way too big to manage.
I find the people who are responded to the most are the ones constantly saying they’re gonna hurt/ kill themselves.
Trigger warning talk of SI/ suicidal thoughts
So here’s my view on this topic. We’ve all been there I believe. At least those of us with day in day out depression, anxiety, trauma issues ETC. Many turn to self-injury because the pain is so constant and intense they see no other way to deal with it then to use physical pain as a way to either release the feelings, become numb, or for some as a way to feel something because they’re numb all the time. The topic of self-injury is very complex but that’s a general understanding of the main reason for it. I had empathy for but never truly understood suicidal thoughts/ actions. Until all of a sudden literally one day I was suicidal. And very deeply so and very calm and matter of fact about the whole thing. I wasn’t afraid I was very sure of myself at the time and peaceful. The thing that hurt like hell were the months after I had been caught before even attempting anything where I felt absolutely trapped on this planet because of what I thought were others selfish desires for me to live when I didn’[t feel I had a life.
End of trigger warning
So all that to say I know that part of supporting each other day to day as people recovering from mental illness is about being able to hear one another when we’re in that amount of pain. So saying (with a trigger warning) that one feels suicidal and why, or that one has self-injured, is going to ETC is fine. This happens a lot on the list. We can only give support suggestions and sometimes silent support. We can’t stop another’s path if they choos/ their illness leads them into these things. What I don’t like are people posting in a huge venue where there’s no way to really form close connections unless you do it outside the group, that they’re gonna kill themselves/ hurt themselves. Knowing pretty much nothing about the person everyone either gives them a ton of attention saying not to do it we care about you soo much (they don’t even know you) or saying stupid things about how killing yourself is selfish.
I could basically go survey a bunch of people in Chicago on their thoughts on suicide/ self harm and get this response. And when I say “know” in terms of internet support I mean you’ve established a personal connection with someone know them beyond their mental illness, know them as a whole person and have a relationship with this person. Not just answering a random person’s cry for help.
If a person doesn’t get a lot of responses they are upset about that and vent to the group about not being supported. I feel that true support usually only happens when you have a group of people who know you, who want to get to know you beyond your mental illness who want to share good and bad times and where you have a close connection. I don’t know why someone would want to reach out to a random huge group of people in this time of need and then get so upset when they don’t get reswponses from that random huge group of people. Maybe it’s because they have no one else and feel this is the only way. It’s all a lot of drama to me and draining and emotionally intense for me and I feel for others who might be in hard places to read that.
The things one can normally monitor when moderating a reasonable size group of people just can’t be contained with such a high level of participants. Like triggering content. For a reason I don’t think I’ll ever understand (though I welcome thoughts) a lot of people like to post pictures of their SI activity, cuts/ scratches/ scars. Or pictures of SI tools knives guns rope ETC. Again I have no idea how this is helpful to anyone. Secondly are the graphic descriptions of suicide or self-harm. Often posts just say “I wanna kill myself” Again there isn’t a sense at all of an ongoing solid relationship between people on there or any discussion about themselves as a whole beyond bouts of SI panic attacks ETC. Again these are a part of our lives but I believe support is about knowing the whole person in a context that’s not all about symptoms.
It’s frustrating then when you want to post helpful resources and information or ask a relivant question and load this page only to find a mountain of emotionally dramatic posts and everything seems and uncontained mess.
I’ve learned a lot about online support and mental illness from moderating my blind mental health list over the years. I’ve learned to try and tell when a person is attention seeking (and I’m not just saying that as the stereotype or to judge some people don’t have a clue that their attention seeking) and how to work with other moderators to try to address the behavior. If someone is unable over time to give support and always is needy I have to redirect them elsewhere. If it’s clear a person is constantly in crisis with no support system outside this group for the safety and sanity of everyone I have to direct them elsewhere or insist that they also find outside support (a psychiatrist, hospital, therapist) then they can stay in the group.
I monitor general conversation and try to make sure we’re talking about our lives in general and day to day hapenings even boring everyday stuff so the focus isn’t symptoms and crisis all the time. In this way I’ve learned a lot about people and what we can and can’t handle as a support group online. I think it takes a lot for a person to participate well in an online support group actually. You need to remember that though these are your friends everyone has a responsibility for their own lives/ choices. You can’t make someone do something. They should have out side in person support systems as should you. I’ve learned to take time out from the group when needed when I’m having a hard time and we’re all extremely gentle and accepting of each other when it comes to that. I think with these things in mind however a person can gain a lot from a well moderated support group online. You can end up making friends for life. And for someone who has trouble for whatever reason making in person friends in their local area this can truly be a life saver.
I don’t want to advertise, but Oh well it’s my blog and I will LOL!
Below are the lists that I run. If this article intrigued you and you want to learn more about how I and my friends run groups, or are interested in something other than/ to supliment facebook groups you’re a part of the links might be useful. Feel free (as in please pretty pleas!) to share with friends.
Blind mental health: blind-mentalhealth+subscribe
Disability haven: disability-haven+subscribe
Living with mental illness: livingwithmentalillness+subscribe
A safe place: asafeplace+subscribe