Social network sites are great for meeting new people and expressing who you are. You can find like-minded individuals, and in some cases can become internet best friends. The added anonymity means that those who are too shy/scared to be themselves in real life get an outlet, and a chance to really express themselves, which is especially popular on Tumblr.
Tumblr users are brilliant for capturing trends and turning them viral, but there can be a massive negative to this. Over the past year or so, the chosen “trend” has been focused on mental disorders. There have been many petitions to raise the awareness of mental and social disorders so help can be more easily given. There has also been a massive rise in people identifying as “socially awkward” because they think it’s a quirky trait to have, and reblogging images of melancholy quotes that they can sometimes relate to.
To be honest, there is no such thing as being “socially awkward” – it’s just shyness. Everyone is shy, some people are just better at moving past it than others. In some cases, however, you can’t get past the shyness, and you can’t move on and make friends with new people very easily. If that’s you, then you just have poor social skills, and you can work on that, yourself, easily. That is not anxiety. You will know if you have anxiety. People that suffer from anxiety often times will panic for no particular reason. A panic attack has been said to be a mixture of the following symptoms: increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, impaired vision, disorganized thoughts, difficulty concentrating on a specific thing, shaking/trembling, hot flushes, dry mouth, chest pains, nausea, dizziness… Basically, if you have a panic attack, you might feel like you’re about to die. It is a serious issue, and the fact that so many people seem to casually throw around that they’re “having a panic attack” just makes it seem like it’s nothing, and that is not fair!
Depression is another “favourite” on Tumblr, and something that every other blog seems to focus on. I have no idea why, but for some reason it’s a cool and eccentric thing to identify as. If you’re depressed, then you’re seen to be some kind of special internet butterfly. Your depression is shown by the reblogging of black and white images, unhappy quotes about sadness and love, and the ultimate “in that moment, I swear we were infinite” quote from Perks of Being A Wallflower (a personal favourite novel of mine, which has been slaughtered thanks to the “depressed teens on Tumblr”). Depression is not a fad, it’s not a done thing, and it’s definitely not another synonym for “shy” to add on to your shitty little list of traits in your ‘About Me’ page. Depression is a thing that so many people have to live with, and which affects their daily life, and I highly doubt that half the people that seem to have a “depression and advice blog” actually suffer from depression. They just need to get out of their bedrooms and stop being so damn pessimistic about life. The only advice you can give to someone who thinks they might suffer from depression is: go and see your GP. Tell a friend if you’re comfortable with that, and if you want someone to go with you.
Eating disorders is another massive social network-worthy trait. If you think you have an eating disorder after looking at a pro-ana blog, then you’re just a complete prat. An eating disorder doesn’t happen over night, and it doesn’t just come and go. It takes over a person’s life, completely, and like every other mental disorder, affects their closest relationships. Recovery from an ED is a long and complex process, which takes a lot of time, willpower, and support. It’s ridiculous how many times I’ve seen people anonymously ask these blogs how they can become anorexic – it’s actually downright disgusting, and a massive insult to the sufferers. Just the suggestion that it can be learnt makes it seem like it’s a choice to suffer from an ED. All you need to do is read recovery stories to know that it’s a living hell to be a sufferer.
Social network sites have ruined the seriousness of mental disorders. Being trapped with your own thoughts is probably the worst thing that can ever happen to a person. It’s not romantic, cool, quirky, cute or poetic to suffer from your own thoughts, and all these attempts online are just lessening the real problems of others. You’re not raising awareness by doing this, you’re romanticising and bastardising real issues.
If you want to offer help, then you mean it. If you say you’re there to support someone, then you mean it. Do NOT promise to be there for someone if you’re not committed to helping him or her cope. Do NOT get angry with them if they find it hard to get the words out, or find it hard to tell you. Do NOT get mad if sometimes they don’t want to tell you about it, and would rather just talk about something else. Do NOT force them to talk to you. All you can do is be there for them, let them know that they can call you at any time and they won’t be judged. Respect them, and make them feel loved. Do NOT make them feel like they’re less than you, or that there’s something horrendously wrong with them; let them live their life.
Stop romanticizing and bastardising mental disorders.
Stop lessening the problems of others.
This has been a PSA.