Every time a celebrity dies by suicide I immediately publicly address it and remind everyone about my own mental health journey and how important it is that we normalize mental health care. I post some variation of If your pancreas doesn’t work, you might need insulin. If your brain doesn’t work, you might need an SSRI or a therapist. There’s no difference. Do not feel shame. on a regular basis. I check into my therapist on Facebook to help others feel less shame about their own treatment. I take selfies with my new meds when my old ones stopped working. I take every chance to talk about mental health care and depression and suicide on any public platform I might hold.
But then I find out someone I know personally almost lost their battle with depression, and I’m silent. I say nothing.
I’ve been reflecting on the other part that is important. The part that doesn’t involve a FB status or a blog post. The part that doesn’t involve speaking into the ether.
And on that part…I must do better.
It’s not just about trying to remove the stigma of mental healthcare, it’s also about remembering how important one-on-one connection is in today’s social media world. We “like” posts that other people like, we post statuses for all of our friends to see, we retweet and reshare memes, we watch stories. But all of this is group connection, and while I value it deeply, I need to be better about the one-on-one connections. When someone pops into my mind or my heart I need to let them know that. I need to reach out more for what is only a quiet and private connection between two people.
I must do better.
And this is not just with real world friends. I want to reach out more to creators I love to let them know how their words or videos or podcasts have helped me. I don’t want to lose anyone and wish they had known how much they meant to me. I read books that change my heart and I hear podcasts that brighten my day and I read articles that expand my world view and do I ever tell these creators the effect they’ve had on my life? No.
I must do better.
And most importantly, if I know someone is struggling, I need to listen to the voices that say, “Reach out.” I don’t know why I don’t do that more because my friends – but internet friends and real world friends – have done that for me. When I’ve been dark, they’ve come in with their flashlight to remind me they are there too. Many of you have done that for me, and I will always be grateful. I need to be better about follow that instinct. I find social connections scary many times, but I need to get over that and remember how important the one-on-one stuff has been in my life…and maybe I should try to return that favor.