Caution on The Web
No I’m not writing to say don’t meet up with strangers off the internet, I hope you already know this, now I gotta go and order an Uber to bring me to my Tinder date… No seriously, this post is about the negativity online.
When I first got the diagnosis of depression many many moons ago a look online was full of horror stories of suicide, hurt loved ones, the void, blackness, emo music etc. Perhaps that last one was tongue in cheek… Anyway nowadays a quick Google of depression gives helplines, support groups and positive stuff and believe me it’s a far greater improvement. It’s incredible what can happen in the space of five years or a decade.
However when I got diagnosed with dysthymia, at the age of 23 to finally explain the constant depressive state I’ve been in my entire life, which believe me, 23 years is a fucking long time when you’ve been depressed for sixteen of those years… But a quick Google of dysthymia brought me to websites full of people moaning about their awful lives, how the disorder has ruined them, their relationships, their careers and their lives in general. Now you may think moaning is a harsh word to use but it’s a word I have to use or else I may as well curl in a ball now and allow myself to die.
Dysthymia is a difficult diagnosis and so is anything chronic really, you realise it’s always going to be like this, maybe not this this but this nonetheless. However dysthymia can be managed, yes it takes work but it can be managed, for the most part. Same goes for every emotional, mental and psychological issue.
To be very clear I mean neuroses here, psychoses can’t be self managed and usually require medication and very close monitoring. But with neuroses there is a certain degree of self drive needed. They can be managed. Now managed for me may be different than managed for you but that’s okay, as long as we all keep on getting on. Make it to tomorrow, it would be a tragedy if you weren’t around to live what could be the best day of your life.
As difficult as some diagnoses can be you mustn’t allow the internet to get you down. There are whole forums online dedicated to people with dysthymia complaining about how awful the disorder is and now don’t get me wrong, it’s bloody soul destroying. BUT if you tell yourself that daily, if you blame everything on it, if you never stop thinking negatively about it, it will kill you. Life is for living.
Dysthymia makes it so difficult to do anything at times but that is the hand I’ve been dealt, I take the positives from my dysthymia such as; it gives me a different perspective on things than others may have. I also attribute it to the reason why I’m so good at understanding other people’s emotions, even before they open their mouth, I’ve always had an almost intuitive ability to know how someone is feeling. Maybe dysthymia has nothing to do with that but I think the pain I feel on such a frequent basis makes me a good receptor for the pain of others. Maybe that’s all toss and I just happen to be good at reading people but why not attribute the potential positive to my disorder?
Furthermore I feel dysthymia is the reason I’m able to make people laugh, I’ve always been the funny guy in any group I’ve been in and I think with dysthymia, again you see things from a different perspective, a perspective that can be funny to other people. Knowing how it feels to want to just roll in a ball in a hole and die, knowing what it feels like not being able to take pleasure in almost anything for so much of my life makes me know what pain is. I think I go out of my way to make others laugh because if I can prevent even one person having the feelings I have, even for just a second then I can be proud of myself. Maybe it’s genetic, but again why not try and attribute a possible positive to this disorder?
My point is whatever your issue(s) is the internet will find ways to make you feel it is insurmountable. Here’s a great a piece of advice a brilliant psychiatric nurse once gave me; the people who write reviews on the internet are always the ones that have a complaint. It’s true too. People rarely go out of their way to publish good reviews but they can hardly wait to get home to hammer a restaurant on Yelp. You need to remember this, the people with the most to moan about are the people who will be writing the majority of the stuff you will be reading on these forums.
Sometimes you will stumble across a website that is positive and wants to help. Cling to these as they are what will help you on hard days. But if you go on a forum and it’s one sob story after the other, X out of it! You don’t need a pity party. It will only make you weaker to fight your issue. Fill yourself with as much positivity as possible so on the hardest of days you have as much power as possible to fight back to a better you. Stay away from the negativity. Don’t read about the bloke whose wife left him, got sacked, lost his children, lost his house, had his dog run under a car, had three failed suicide attempts and attributes everything that is negative in his life onto the issue you share with them.
Instead read about the guy who also has your same problem but made himself a CEO, invented something, ran a marathon, climbed K2, married the man or woman of his dreams and says ‘yes I have x..y..z.. but I’m a roaring success and you can be too’.
Once I stopped looking at all the negative things about dysthymia I found people who had done these very things! Even though they are just like me, chronically depressed, forever feel like shit etc. They have achieved! They have conquered the world. Look at Churchill for example, the man called his depression his ‘black dog’ and it haunted him his whole life, the man spent nearly his entire life seriously unhappy.
However he still led the world against Nazi Germany when the rest of Europe had fallen. Whatever your opinions of him or Britain, he achieved things in his life. He was manically depressed, was he depressed? Dysthymic? Cyclothymic? Who knows, but his black dog didn’t stop him doing what he needed to do.
You just don’t know how many of your idols may be depressed or bipolar or anxious etc. Yet they still manage to chase their dreams. Read the positive stories. Ignore the negative. You already generate enough of that yourself in your own mind.