Facebook as a healing tool. I know you’re already scratching your head, right? That same Facebook newsfeed of “What actress would play you in a movie?”, “Here’s what I had for lunch”, so-and-so shared this fun earworm from George Takei, and on it goes? Yes, that selfsame Facebook.
For many years I hid my depression. I hid it in anger. I hid it in food (I still struggle with this.)I hid it from my husband. I hid my depression from myself. It was easier to be angry and work hard than to face my depression.
The challenge with depression is that even though everyone who loves you says “Call me” or “Let’s go for a walk” and are genuinely concerned….is that when you are depressed, you don’t want to see anyone, yet you need to feel surrounded by love. Depression is like having second-degree sunburn and people wanting to hug you. You want the love but can’t bear to be touched.
So what does this have to do with Facebook? Well, Facebook is a place where you can post what is going on with you without having to actually talk to anyone. You can share with the world that you are in a funk, that your hormones have overpowered your anti-depressants, and people can respond and send you love without being there.
Being able to post a Facebook status update that says “Hey world, I’m here…I just can’t hang with you, got to deal with my depression” allows me to let others into my world without having to actually talk to anyone. When I am depressed I don’t want to connect to anyone. I’m too likely to say something mean; too likely to burst into tears over something absolutely inconsequential.
When I am depressed I hate myself. I feel like a failure, a loser. Depression overwhelms all rational thought. My beloved Ernie, who married me for better or for worse, has seen his share of these mental sandstorms. He took me to Coronado to walk in the surf and watch the seagulls. He sat with me at the Hotel Del while I told him how I felt like a loser and that my life is pointless. He understands my thought process and lets me vent.
Depression is not rational. We talked about Owen Wilson trying to commit suicide, despite being what most of the world would consider extremely successful. There’s also Kurt Cobain, Lee Thompson Young, Alexander McQueen, Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway. All these and many more had what most people could only dream of — fame and fortune — yet they threw it away. What did they all have in common? Depression.
I am blessed in that I will not kill myself. No matter how sad and hopeless I get on these days, I have gone through enough therapy, learned to look for the good in a seemingly bad situation, read enough books and processed my grief. But I understand what these suicides are going through. If you look at my life on the outside, I have it pretty good. I have a 20 year marriage to my best friend, I own a home, have a successful business, have travelled extensively, and have an enormous group of friends. But when I am depressed, all of that ceases to exist and is inconsequential to the pain raging inside my head and my soul.
So I posted on Facebook today that this was one of “those days”. I was able to reach out to my network of friends and read their kind words. So many days I write my blogs and I have no idea if anyone reads them or if they help people. When I post on Facebook I get instant responses and it shows me that I am not alone.
And yes, I am one of those who posts where I am eating, what funny thing George Takei has posted, take the Buzzfeed quizzes, and post photos on my ‘status updates’. I ‘like’ what’s happening in my friends’ lives, knowing a friend beat her mom at Scrabble, that another has been awarded a radio interview, one has been honored with an art show, another is going to Turkey and yet another just got back from Machu Pichu.
Facebook allows me to be by myself, but not alone.