Monday, September 8, 2014

National Suicide Prevention Week: One World Connected

Suicide: a topic as important to talk about as it is difficult. As mental health has only recently been acknowledged as a type of health instead of being swept under the rug, the dialogue on the subject is sparse. It's understandable-- most of the general public is still in the process of being educated on the realities of mental health that break the taboo created by the ignorance of previous generations of healthcare professionals.

This week, from September 8th to September 14th, is National Suicide Prevention Week. It is more important this week than any other to discuss and learn about mental health. By entering into dialogue on the subject and becoming educated on it, you're offering support to the members of the community who are struggling, whether you know it or not.

As a mental health patient myself, I still find it challenging to discuss certain aspects of my diagnoses. But this week, I am going to try harder to opening myself up and working to break the taboo against mental health. I hope that, in talking about my experience, I can empower those who are too scared to seek help to open themselves up to the possibility.

The theme of the 2014 Suicide Prevention Week is "One World Connected". I almost feel like this was a sign for me to tell this particular story, as it fits well under this theme.

I was one of the first of my group of friends to have a Facebook. Twitter, Tumblr, Google, and Instagram accounts soon followed. I can't tell you how many times I've been told to "stop wasting my time on those stupid websites". But I can't help it. As almost anyone can tell you, social media is entertaining, not to mention addicting.

I've noticed my presence on social media change significantly over the last 5 years. I used to share my every thought with the world regardless of whether or not it was worth a "like" or a response. Now, I'm very strategic about what and when I post. If a thought isn't well composed or a picture is taken in bad lighting, I don't share it.

Most people would accredit this to the feelings of jealousy and self-doubt that can come with seeing every aspect of your friends' lives laid out in a picture-perfect page. Social media allows you to almost recreate yourself into a much more presentable and admirable person. After all, you never see pictures of someone doing their laundry after a week of putting it off or a rash that's plaguing someone's arm. Instead, you see a clean room with a boisterous caption or an OOTD in an extra cute cardigan that, little does anyone know, is hiding a skin problem.

This ability to omit the boring or hard parts of life and only share an exaggerated version of the good in your life is, without a doubt, a cause of envy and self doubt amongst your friends and followers who think your life is exactly how you present it: perfect. And this certainly has contributed to my editing of my social media presence; if in an alternative way.

Over the last five years, I have increasingly taken advantage of social media as a way to make my life seem more glamorous and interesting. I have also found, in these last five years, that the old saying is true: the more you tell yourself something, the more you believe it. The more I tell myself and my followers online that my life is awesome, the more I believe it.

This serves especially useful on days when my life doesn't feel like getting out of bed for, let alone glamorous. By posting a well-shot picture on Instagram, I can prove to myself that my life is worth taking pictures of. On days when I don't feel the point in doing anything, I can force myself out of the house to go on a walk with the intention of finding something to put on Tumblr.

On the day I took and posted this picture, I'd just spent two days in bed feeling too hopeless to get up and do anything. But I got up, put on my favorite skirt, and snapped this picture to prove that I was doing something worth documenting. You can't tell any of this from either the photo or the caption, which was the intention.

I don't particularly mind that the time I spend on social media is considered a waste of time. The person that I am in my social media accounts is, in all honesty, who I really am. Most of the time, though, I find myself too overwhelmed to recognize that. Social media to me is a way to see myself without the harsh negative light of what plagues me in reality

Check back in every day for the next week to learn more about mental health and how you can participate in National Suicide Prevention Week.

For more information on National Suicide Prevention Week
For this year's Information and Media Kit
For support and information year-round, check out Life Ain't Easy, But It's Worth It
The national crisis hotline in America has lines open 24/7: 1-800-273-8255
Visit You Matter for information and advice
Reference this Tumblr post for help
Consult Help Guide for information on and alternatives to self-harm

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