When I was first diagnosed with anxiety, I was hungry for information and a connection to others. There’s nothing scarier than feeling alone (apart from maybe feeling as though someone is hiding in the wardrobe.. I checked, it was cool).
In an emotional moment I made the mistake of looking at online forums. Dear God that was an error! I may as well have typed “I’d like to feel even more depressed about my life,” into google. Forums can be incredibly useful for many things; Restaurant reviews, the best way to get grease out of a shirt.. but NOT for mental health advice. Others might disagree with this, but it’s an opinion I’m unlikely to change.
So what’s my beef? The lack of context and clean up. Of course, freedom of speech is a good thing.. but it can also be damaging, particularly to a fragile individual who already thinks that her life is over!
A prime example:
“I started having panic attacks three years ago. I quit my job and my girlfriend left me. I never leave the house and I have no friends. Panic attacks have ruined my life and sometimes I wish I could die.” Bob32
Now as much as I respect Bob’s right to talk about his troubles, I feel like it would’ve been better directed at a doctor, professional or a charity. Anxiety UK and Mind both have helplines. Instead, this statement was left in cyber space for me to read and feel even more hopeless about my condition.
Looking back at that comment today, I noticed it was actually written eighteen months before I even read it. So it was already out of date. Who knows what happened to Bob? He could’ve got the help he needed and is now living a happy life. But his words of misery will forever remain on the forum, waiting for other suffers to read. My point is, forums can be incredibly damaging to others. They’re rarely encouraging, but instead packed with tales of broken dreams and a reliance of strong medications. Some even appear competitive, e.g. ‘you think your life is bad? Well listen to this!’
However, despite my opinions I do think it’s important for people with anxiety to talk about it with others. Nobody quite understands like another suffer.
I’m also a big fan of peer mentoring – recovery through talking, listening and acting.
Therefore, I’ve decided to start a Facebook group. It’s an experiment for now, but if others find it useful then I’m happy to keep it open. Reading back through comments on my blog I think it would great for readers to connect with each other. So many of you have shared excellent tips and advice!
Obviously only join if you feel comfortable, there’s no pressure. Everything is also 100% private, (I won’t be tagging anyone in posts)! What happens in the group, stays in the group… unless someone confesses to being Jack the Ripper incarnate.
Feel free to vent about awkward social situations, discuss medication and therapy, or just say hello. More serious topics can also be accommodated, so don’t hold back. However, I would ask that members don’t repeat the same rant every other day without seeking help, as this can be harmful.
I would love all my readers to join 🙂 – I think that together we can really support each other. (This includes me too, as some days I need to fall apart or freak out)!