Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why I Share the Dark Times

My blog has been dormant for a while. My most recent post was in August of last year. Ever since coming to Korea, I haven’t written much new.

I’ve had a lot going on for sure. Great things have been happening since I got on that Delta Flight from Little Rock last October.

The past nine months have been some of the best of my life. I’ve enjoyed a very good year teaching elementary students in Korea. I’ve gotten to travel around this new country I live in and have made great new relationships.

It’s sometimes hard for me to think of how life could get much better. Yet even in the midst of my great new year, my acid shadows have followed me. The depression and mental health issues I’ve always struggled with continue to walk beside me. They have been quieter these past couples of months than at any other time in my life. Still, they are there and I am very aware that their words could, at any random moment, puncture my mind and send me spiraling.

My life has been great. That doesn’t mean though that the past nine months have been struggle free. I’ve had plenty of moments where I was deeply unhappy with myself. Even with all the progress I’ve made with therapy and even with all I’ve been able to achieve here in Korea, I’m still just as vulnerable to my dark moods.

I’ve shared my darker and depressive episodes online (especially on Facebook). It’s not a secret anymore that I struggle with mental health. In the past I wrote freely on my blog about my depression. Those posts were and remain some of the most viewed. More recently though I’ve stuck to quick Facebook posts.

Recently, a friend asked me how I was so comfortable being open with sharing my depression online?

In truth, I’m not always comfortable. I still worry about how others perceive me sometimes. This fear was a big one when I was younger but it diminishes every year. Much of that has to do with those people (friends and strangers) who have reached out after a FB or blogpost and expressed their gratitude or sympathy. Some have shared their own struggles with mental health.

Yes, there have been a few times where I’ve got negative feedback on what I’ve put out into cyberspace. The first comment on my coming out with depression blogpost was an anonymous person who told me to kill myself. I can count those instances on one hand though. The overwhelming majority of feedback from my posts has been positive and empathetic.

Letting others know they are not alone and knowing that I myself am not alone despite what my shadows tell me. These are the reasons I share my struggles. Sharing inner turmoil can, I think be a positive thing.

The longer I walk with depression the more I believe Henry David Thoreau’s quote that most of us are living lives of quiet desperation. In this age, social media feeds our desperation.

In an age where there’s a ton of pressure on people to share their accomplishments online and broadcast a rosy image of themselves that ignores our darkest times, we all suffer unnecessarily.  

Whether we like it or not, we are influenced deeply by what we see in our newsfeeds. Whether we care to admit it or not, we all compare ourselves to our peers’ social media highlight reels. (Even though we know we shouldn’t).

What we see impacts us and what we share impacts others. Throwing a few hardships out among a sea of filtered selfies, out of context accomplishments and incomplete life stories, would, I think, go a long way to helping people feel much less like islands of desperation.

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