If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing

I was catching up with a friend on Tuesday night, when they asked how my mental health had been recently.

I responded positively- I’d been feeling good; more stable, enjoying time to myself, writing more, putting it onto a blog… blah blah blah….

She then asked why I wasn’t sharing my blog onto Instagram- Facebook- Or any other platform that would allow the people who knew me, to read what I had to say.

I felt embarrassed. I didn’t know how to answer her.

I wasn’t sure of the answer. Or, of what was making me so anxious to publicise it. All I knew was I’d tried posting it all before, but something had stopped me.

It wasn’t until going onto Facebook that next morning, and seeing a post that touched a nerve, I had a better answer to give to my friend.

Let’s start by highlighting anything can touch a nerve when it comes to social media, and people’s unwanted opinions. Especially when these opinions aren’t benefiting anyone, but instead contagiously affect us -A reason why I spend little time on it.

When I first saw this post I thought-

What a bold statement to be writing about for all traumas.

This person was clearly lucky the trauma they experienced hasn’t followed with them. They were lucky enough to have a good support network. Or brave enough to deal with the trauma before it manifested into something bigger, so well done to them!Not to make an assumption.

I’d expect someone conveying they’ve been through trauma, and come out the other side, to be more sympathetic when understanding how another must be feeling- trying to support them in any way they can- not feeling some kind of superior moral high ground and wanting to belittle them.

Surely facing something traumatic means you’re coming out of the other side as a better person. Not an unreasonable one?

This question led me to believe that the person was lucky enough not to have been through trauma, and in fact had absolutely no right to be commenting on other peoples.

Although I am not a doctor, I’ve read a lot of books on the subject matter, and can assure you there’s more to a person’s trauma then you may first believe.

Comments like these are so goddamn unnecessary and inappropriate to post.

Do you think the person that it was originally aimed at cared?

-Realistically no.

By the sounds of it, they’re past the point of caring.

Yet, anyone who is still coping with their trauma has likely been affected, so well done you.

To me, as a reader who has suffered with trauma, the post seemed to insinuate- you’re not over something that happened to you ten/ twenty years ago? How pathetic.

First off, let’s talk about trauma…. What is it?

“Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences.”

“Three Types of ACE’s”

Childhood trauma can have the most detrimental effect on your health later down the line. The ACE study (Adverse Childhood Experience) Johann Hari discussed in his book, ‘Lost Connections’ explained, “for every category of traumatic experience you went through as a child, you were radically more likely to become depressed as an adult. If you had six categories of traumatic events in your childhood, you were five times more likely to become depressed as an adult, than someone who didn’t have any.”

“According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, the rougher your childhood, the higher your score is likely to be and the higher your risk for various health problems later.”

Some people aren’t given the chance to heal and grow from their trauma until it’s too late. When they no longer feel capable enough to turn their lives around; happy drinking their bodies poison and smoking their lungs black with tar.

Some people don’t realise they’ve been through trauma as a child, until the feelings they’d once felt, are prompted later down the line by another situation. Or they may finally open up to someone else about it, and make sense of the emotions they’ve kept buried for so long.

Some people take a month to get over their trauma- others may take a year- some never truly will.

If a person constantly blames their behaviour on trauma, it is likely they aren’t getting the right support, and this is where you should be stepping in- someone who cares for them- to help them get this.

Rather than ridiculing someone, and making them feel even more like a lost cause, make them feel like their life has meaning, and their future shows strength.

As a society we seem very content shutting people down; scorning their actions rather than listening to how they feel, or understanding why.

Why is it so easy to pick out the negatives of what a human does, rather than commending them for the positives?

Take a working environment for example; you’re rarely praised for doing your job well, but you’re always getting ridiculed for doing it wrong.

The stigma attached to mental health.

Although the comment wasn’t directed at me, personally, it was a direct attack on mental health- something that when it’s being challenged can make a person who suffers from it feel angry, embarrassed and defensive.

The stigma attached to mental health is a plague.- to have a mental illness you must be frail or faulty.

Outsiders are convinced it’s a choice; people who suffer can just ‘snap out of it’ at any time, and are faking it, or acting out for attention.

… The word ‘attention,’ being half the reason why so many suffer in silence.

The last thing a person with mental health wants to do is get attention, and they will most likely find any other reason as to why they’ve acted in a certain way, other than stating, ‘because I’m mentally unwell”.

The stigma can make them feel worse than their condition altogether.

I remember the first time I openly told a friend I had depression. It was a week after I’d been on medication and stupidly I’d smoked myself into a frantic state. I instantly regretted opening up to them. I was overwhelmed with anxiety and paranoia for the first time- believing I could hear them talking about it to someone else- calling me an attention seeker. I ran out of my house, in the middle of winter, at 3AM, wearing only a pair of sliders and a t-shirt. I couldn’t tell you how far I ran until I stopped, had a panic attack on the side of the curb and then rang my mum, convinced I needed putting in an asylum.

If a person decides to open up about their mental health to you, believe it’s a big thing to them and that they’re in need of emotional support. They’re trusting you not to pre judge them with your own perspective of the illness.

If you’ve ever been in a vulnerable situation, or have shared your condition with someone, then you will know that having it downplayed or mocked is one of the worst feelings in the world.

It’s an invisible illness and the people who you least expect to suffer from it, do.

Being in the spotlight is not something I feel comfortable with at all. But if I want to write about mental health, allow people to understand it from a different angle and engage with the silent sufferers, who need some extra support, I’ve got to be the women I know I am.

It’s been two months since I set up this blog but yet this is the first time I am posting publicly onto my social media.

So to answer the question to my friend- I was scared of being ridiculed. Of being put down or called an attention seeker because social media sucks. Because these feelings are prompted by my past. And because people behind a keyboard think they have some sort of moral authority over one’s emotions- She says typing on the keyboard.

How can I sit encouraging you not be ashamed of your mental health when I’m too afraid of telling other people about my own?

Whilst telling your closest friends can be one challenge, telling the world seems to feel like a whole other ball game!

Finally.

I would just like to point out, although the comment may have been insinuating something different, this is the way I’ve chosen to read it. And if I’m able to interpret it in this way- others will also be able too!

No sufferer deserves the bad stigma attached to their condition.

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