Depressed Divas: A Rant About Social Media

Depressed Diva

How often do we see the word “depressed”, being misused? If you’re on social media, then the chances are, you’ll have seen it strewn around carelessly; like dirty socks in a teenager’s bedroom. An acquaintance you met at a party, posts a status about how “depressed” they are, because they can only get their eyeliner straight on one eye.What do I say to that? Lucky them.

They’re lucky, because they can pinpoint the reason they’re feeling “depressed.” If I had a pound, for every time I’ve spluttered “I don’t know” at my husband, whenever he’s asked why I’m sobbing over my Spaghetti Bolognese; I’d be writing this post from a yacht on the Caribbean Sea.

For people like me, depressed is the mood we’re perpetually locked in. We wake up depressed, go to work depressed, eat our meals depressed and go to bed depressed. Whether or not our eyeliner is straight, is of no consequence to us. If we were to write those kind of statuses on social media, they’d go something like this: “I’m depressed, and I have no idea why. I should be happy and I should be grateful for everything that I have. But I’m not. I’m absolutely destroyed, and I don’t want to be here anymore.”

And do you know what response we’d get? Not the same response these attention-seeking divas get, that’s for sure. There’d be no emojis blowing kisses, or sporting angry faces.There’d be no encouraging comments – there’d be nothing. We’d probably even be a few dozen friends and followers lighter. Bottom line: post an overly-dramatic status, about how you want to kill yourself, because your handbag doesn’t match your shoes, and the world is fully behind your “struggle.” But post an honest status about how you want to kill yourself, because every day, you feel like a contestant on Takeshi’s Castle and ending your life seems to be the only way to win the game against the Emerald Guard in your head; and you’re on your own.

I know I’m probably being a bit insensitive – or even too sensitive, but I’m so sick of mental illness being trivialised on social media. Yeah, bad eyeliner happens to good people, but so does mental illness. The difference is, bad eyeliner never killed anyone.

 

B For Bullying

Bullying

 

We associate the word “bully” with the horrible specimens we knew at school. You know the ones. You’re probably picturing their angry little faces now. You probably have a couple of names you associate with the word. You always knew they were approaching you in the corridors, because there’d be a whirlwind of chaos and malevolent activity swirling down them.

Books would suddenly fly up into the air, members of the Science club would come skidding down the floor on their fronts like human bowling balls, school bags were emptied onto the floor and their contents trampled on. All this would be accompanied by the soundtrack of evil laughter, coupled with whimpers of distress and quiet sobbing.

Then you’d see them. Them. Plural. Never alone were they, these so-called tough guys? No. There was always the one main bully, and a couple of snivelling little rats in their gang. Head Honcho Scumbag Number One would almost always be the most feared, and their henchmen were just as scared of their leader as everyone else was. Us mere mortals would spend our school careers trying to evade the attentions of the school bullies by making sure we didn’t make eye contact with them, walking the long way round to our lessons and generally trying to stay under the radar.

We knew who the bullies’ main targets were, and we’d quietly witness various acts of sadism being inflicted on these unfortunate souls. Sometimes, we’d mentally scream at the bullies’ victims to run or defend themselves, in the hope that they’d developed the power of telepathy overnight. We never spoke out, for fear of being next on the hit list. It’s shameful, I know. I took that shame with me into adulthood. Why didn’t I say something – do something? Hindsight has 20/20 vision.

Bullying and Suicide

We’ve all read and heard stories of teenagers ending their own lives, due to bullying. But is it really that big a problem? The answer is, most definitely.

This is an extract from the website, bullyingstatistics:

The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
  • 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying

 

Sobering stuff, isn’t it?

Anti-Social Media

We think that bullying, is limited to the playgrounds and corridors of our schools. It used to be, when my generation were growing up.

When most of us went to school, the likes of Mark Zuckerberg were still in school too; so social media wasn’t yet invented. If someone was being bullied at school, at least they could escape from the bullies, once they were on the right side of their front door. Not anymore.

Kids today have no escape from bullies. I see it all the time, in the form of my Facebook friends having to intervene, when some vile little cowards are abusing their teenage children online. Nine times out of ten, my Facebook friends’ children are being bullied at school, by the same horrorbags who are continuing their bullying campaign over social media.

In some ways, social media is actually helping the victims of bullying; by providing them with a public platform. By their very nature, bullies have delusions of being untouchable; therefore they will brazenly abuse their victims in public. This gives us parents the ability to see what the bullies are up to, in real time.

However, the acts of public cruelty the bullies engage in, are just the tip of the iceberg. Succumbing to their fundamental cowardice, the bullies will invariably reserve their worst acts of sadism for private messenger. Because bullies rarely operate alone, they and their cronies will abuse and humiliate their targets in a group message setting.

I’m of the opinion that parents should have access to their teenagers’ social media accounts. Call me an overbearing parent, or whatever you like; I don’t care. My children don’t yet have a social media presence, but when they do, I’ll make sure I have the passwords to their accounts; until they’re of an age to be completely responsible for themselves.

So if they are ever bullied (or God forbid, become a bully themselves, or a bully’s enabler), I’ll be able to see exactly what the hell is going on and stamp it out, before it escalates. I’m fully aware that I won’t be very popular with my children for doing this, but that doesn’t worry me. My priority is not to be popular with my children and their peers, it’s to make sure my children are safe. And if I have to be viewed as an over-protective parent in the process, then so be it.

Adult Bullies

Bullying is not just the forte of children. Adults engage in bullying and humiliation too. Most of the time, you’ll find that people who were bullies as children, go on to be bullies in adulthood.

Adult bullies will find targets in their workplace, on their street, on social media, amongst fellow parents at their childrens’ schools and even within their own families. It’s a sad fact that at least one point in our lives, we will fall prey to an adult bully.

We see them in action all the time, on social media. A controversial news story pops up on our newsfeed and there’s always one or two keyboard warriors in the comments section, dishing out insults to anyone whose opinion differs from theirs. Saddos.

A keyboard warrior recently tried to make me his target, on social media. I’m a member of several blogging community groups on Facebook, and I commented on a fellow member’s post. A couple of hours later, this keyboard warrior replied to my comment; with one of those psuedo-superior jibes at my choice of wording. “You meant to say……surely?” it read. No, my comment was worded just fine, thanks. No sooner had he used my comment as an ego wank sock; he’d tagged what I presume to be his sidekick/wanking partner in the thread. There’s a word for that where I come from, and it’s doggingI replied to the keyboard warrior, asking him why he was so concerned with the way I’d worded my comment. I didn’t get a response, which was rather a shame; since I’ve never had the opportunity to fuck a keyboard warrior up on social media, while the friend they’ve tagged watches through their computer screen. Oh well.

 

Nowt To Do With Me

Because I feel ashamed of myself, for not intervening when someone was being bullied at school; I’ve become one of the seemingly few who speak up and challenge bullies. The ones who still wouldn’t put a bully in their place, say I’m stupid for doing so. “The only heroes, are dead ones” they tell me, as an attempt at persuading me that being spineless is the way forward. But I don’t want to be a hero, I want to be a decent human being.

Bullies thrive on getting away with it. They love nothing more, than to be left to carry out their campaigns of terror, unfettered. My opinion is, those who turn a blind eye to abuse of any description, are contributing to it. I’m sorry, but I won’t be on of the ones who look the other way, while someone is being beaten and humiliated. I don’t care if I get my face smashed in, at least I’ll be able to look myself in the eye (once the swelling’s gone down) and say that I stood up to a coward. Afterwards, I might even watch a video of the incident, which would no doubt have been uploaded to YouTube by a gutless bystander.

Whenever I see bullies on social media, I step in to defend the victim and deliver some bitter home truths to the jellyfish, who’s hiding behind their keyboard. And guess what? I’m still here to tell the tale. But if I’d been just another silent bystander, like most people are these days; would the bullies’ victims still be here? Looking at the statistics further up the page, there’s a good chance they might not be.

I live my life by the motto: “do no harm, but take no shit,” and I can hold my head up high and honestly say that I’m doing a pretty good job of it, so far.

If You, Or Your Loved One Is A Victim of Bullying

If you’re a victim of bullying, or you have a loved one who is; I’ve listed some sources of support available to you.

Sources of Support in The UK (the list is taken from the NHS Choices website)

Childline

Freephone: 0800 1111

ChildLine is a helpline and website for young people and children. You can call ChildLine confidentially at any time of the day or night to talk about any worries. Calls are free from landlines and mobiles, and they won’t appear on a phone bill. You can also chat online to an adviser orcontact ChildLine by email or message board. ChildLine’s website has a useful section on how to cope with bullying.

Bullybusters 0800 169 6928

Bullybusters operates a free anti-bullying helpline for anyone who’s been affected by bullying. It also has a website and message board, with sections specifically for kids and young people.

Bullying UK 0808 800 2222

Bullying UK offers extensive practical advice and information about bullying for young people, and its website has a section on bullying at school.

Help for different types of bullying

Bullying related to race, religion or culture

ChildLine’s website has a section on racism and what you can do if you encounter racist bullying.

Bullying of young people with a learning disability

Don’t Stick it, Stop It! (PDF, 993kb), set up by Mencap, campaigns against the bullying of young people with learning disabilities.

Homophobic and transphobic bullying

EACH is a charity for young people and adults affected by homophobia and transphobia. It has a telephone helpline for young people who are experiencing homophobic or transphobic bullying. You can call the EACH actionline on 0808 1000 143 on weekdays, 9am to 5pm. Calls are free from landlines and most mobiles.

Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for equal rights for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people. Its Education for All campaign tackles homophobia and homophobic bullying in schools across the UK. On the Education for All website you can find case studies and facts and figures about homophobic bullying in schools, as well as advice for young people and teachers.

Bullying of young carers

A Carers Trust survey in 2013 found a quarter of the young adult carers they spoke to had been bullied at school because of their caring role.

Babble is an online community for young carers (aged under 18) run by the Carers Trust. You can also ask questions and get advice online.

Matter is the Carers Trust online community for young adult carers aged 16 to 25 and has an info and advice section.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying uses technology to bully people. Find out how to deal with cyberbullying.

More information

This isn’t a full list. You can find many more anti-bullying organisations on the Anti-Bullying Alliance website, which contains all the important sources of anti-bullying information and support. Remember, you can call ChildLine in confidence on 0800 1111 to talk about any type of bullying.

Sources of Support In The US 

http://www.stompoutbullying.org/

http://www.overcomebullying.org

www.thetrevorproject.org

www.pacer.org

Sources Of Support In Canada

www.stopabully.ca

www.erasebullying.ca

www.bullyingcanada.ca

www.bullying.org

This list is not exhaustive. If you are reading this from any other parts of the world and you are in need of support, I will be more than happy to help connect you to sources of support in your area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Motherless Mother’s Day

Motherless.jpg

 

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. The day that we all say thanks to the wonderful women in our lives, and give them a well-earned day of being spoiled. Your friends all share gorgeous photos on social media, of themselves with their Mothers. Gushy messages are written above these photos, and tech-savvy Mums everywhere are tagged into these love doughnut posts.

Then we have the friends whose lovely Mothers have been cruelly snatched away from them. Cancer,heart disease and other awful illnesses singled out these happy families and literally blew them apart, like some sadistic soap opera scriptwriter. On Mother’s Day, these friends write openly about their grief and share tear-extracting poems on loss.

But what about the people out there, whose Mothers are estranged from their lives? The ones whose Mothers have either walked away, or behaved in such a way that makes any kind of contact an impossibility. The fundamentally flawed freaks, who have faces even their Mothers couldn’t love. The rejects. The unlovables. What about us? Continue reading

B For Bipolar: A Guest Post

 

 

connect-20333_1920Hi everyone. As part of my A-Z of Mental Health Challenge, I wanted to discuss the subject of Bipolar.

Because I don’t have any first-hand experience of the illness, I approached a fellow mental health blogger and asked her to share with my readers, her experiences of living with Bipolar.

It’s an honour and a pleasure to introduce to you, Sandra Charron of sandracharron.com

 

How Friends and Family Members Wish Bipolar Disorder Be Gone

 

As a mental illness advocate, I am so grateful to be guest posting here. Over at my own blog ‘sandra dot com’ I share my story of mental illness since I know it’s one that many others are living and can relate to. I have bipolar II disorder. I was diagnosed almost three years ago, and the lumps and bumps since then have left me with big blue bruises which I am barely able to hide under oversized clothing and big, floppy hats. I mean all of this metaphorically, of course. Sadly, bipolar disorder is not visible; maybe if it was, society would be more accepting of mental illness and the care and treatment required.

 

Bipolar II disorder, not to be confused with bipolar I disorder, which is slightly different (and I’ll leave you to Google the differences,) is characterized by such highs that no other feeling on earth can compare. This hypomania, as it is called, begins innocently enough with thoughts that swirl around the brain; gaining momentum which each leap. Sleep becomes elusive as blood vessels and nerve endings explode with energy and excitement. Something as mundane as a painting project becomes an obsession as paint swatches are picked out, swapped out, thrown out, until the project becomes but one of many projects someone with bipolar II ends up ditching for something else; something invigorating which enables rapid fire thought processes. Hypomania is awesome. And I should also mention that people with bipolar disorder don’t usually have a ton of money since shopping sprees, gambling, throwing money out the window…well, let’s just clarify that cash is best left to those who don’t feel the need to buy the same sweater in seven different colours (true story.)

 

The problem however with hypomania is that it doesn’t last. Its high which pushes through cloud cover and swoops over mountain tops, eventually bangs into a ceiling with such violence, then crashes back to the ground with a painful smashing of brain on skull. The hypersensitive blood vessels and nerve endings of hypomania are replaced with the sadness of a depression so deep it burrows into every pore. The terrorizing nightmares of this depression leave its sufferer wishing for a relief which sadly, sometimes can take months and years to be achieved. Suicidal thoughts replace the ones of a manic euphoria. One would think that the mania would more than make up for the cutting pain of depression, but it doesn’t. Because the hypomania is the prelude to ugliness. It’s awesomeness is shrouded in a frightening cloak of uncertainty as each day brings forth the moment which could be the beginning of the end.

 

Obviously the illness itself is more than difficult to endure. However quiet the presence, its invisibility has the world believing that those of us suffering from bipolar disorder are not really sick. Because I can stand. Sometimes I can climb out from beneath the bed sheets that protect me from the evils of the world my mind is unable to comprehend or explain. My friends will say, “You’ll feel better if you come out with us.” My family wills the disorder to be nonexistent; a make-believe land in my head in which I apparently am choosing to soar to the heavens and then be dropped hundreds of thousands of feet into sharp glass which cuts me so deeply I wish one of those shards would puncture my heart. Watching me lay on the couch, unresponsive; unable to care for myself is attributed to exhaustion as opposed to depression.

 

Explaining hypomania to my family is difficult. How do you make people who love you and only have your best interest at heart understand that your thoughts are racing; that you don’t need more than three hours of sleep a night to function; that it’s not normal to plan and plan and plan, and then do nothing but stare at the lace pattern in the curtains. “That’s normal,” my husband will say. “So you get a little overboard about some stuff. That’s doesn’t make you manic.” Yeah. It kinda does. It’s not normal. Because when my mind is depicting stability (which isn’t often as my bipolar disorder has yet to be properly controlled by an effective medication regimen,) – but when I can feel a hum of normalcy, I am suddenly devoid of fanatical obsessions. But my family seems more comfortable believing I’m meant to be juggling fiery arrows rather than accepting the reality that I have an illness.

 

And so I continue to attempt adjusting to the idea that I have an illness which can’t be proven by a blood test or by an interesting lesion on my arm. It’s in my head, tucked behind smiling brown eyes that want desperately to convey to everyone in my life that I don’t feel good, I just don’t feel good. But instead I just sit there staring at that lace pattern in the curtains hoping someone will catch on to my silent cries for help and save me from this torture.

 

For more fascinating stories about my spontaneous home renovations at 3am check out my blog at http://sandracharron.com

Follow me on Twitter @sandra_dot_com

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