By Andrew Malekoff
Twitter is more than a political battlefield. It is a quick and easy source for trending news, sports and entertainment.
If you’re into broadcast sports or the latest TV series, for example, Twitter is a place where you can read others’ reactions and opinions in real time. You can join in on the conversation if you wish. If you’re apprehensive because of online antagonists or bullies, trolls as they’re known, it’s easy to block them.
For the uninitiated, Tweets are limited to 280 characters, which requires one to be concise. There is the option of creating threads, a series of connected Tweets, to expand one’s message.
Although the dangers of social media should not be underestimated, for some individuals living with mental illness Twitter offers a sounding board and source of support. It can provide others with greater understanding about mental illness. Twitter users often identify themselves with pseudonyms to protect their privacy.
Lost Girl is a Twitter user with a wild and uninhibited sense of humor. She is a mental health warrior who fights against stigma and discrimination and is transparent about her own ups and downs. In her bio she suggests that she is living with bipolar illness.
Bipolar refers to a psychiatric diagnosis of someone experiencing intense mood changes, alternating episodes of severe depression and high energy that can severely disrupt their life without treatment. The bipolar experience is uniquely personal and varies from person to person.
Lost Girl’s elegant tweet about what depression feels like caught my eye and she consented to my sharing it: “Depression is not being able to do something as simple as getting out of bed. Sitting up and putting your feet on the floor feels impossible. And you wonder why you should even push yourself to attempt it. You’re not even worth the energy.”
She struck a chord with many others, with 42 characters to spare.
AV reacted, “I feel this so much. Just the utter lack of desire to do anything, and the hopeless and listless feeling that goes with it.”
Deeds weighed in: “True. Sadly, depression is suffered utterly alone, as most people do not have the…capacity to understand depression. ‘We didn’t know,’ says everyone. Yet the red flags were and are in front of you.”
To which Lost Girl responded: “Very well said. And most people don’t, you are correct. And then the rest of the people don’t want to even try to understand it.”
JB was grateful: “I really appreciate you and your posts like this about depression. It has definitely helped me understand it more and expanded my empathy.”
Fire added: “Your ability to put words to the feelings, whether high or low, is a gift. I hope you know how many people you help when you do.”
The Dude tied it together: “Hugs friend. Reaching out and seeking solace in the Twitter world is an enormous support network…”
I was in awe seeing this spontaneous mutual aid group come together. Many more contributed to the conversation. Although I use my real name on Twitter, I didn’t want to simply be a fly on the wall as I was moved by Lost Girl’s initial post and the ensuing discussion on depression.
So, I joined in and tweeted: “I’m not sure if you know it or even care to, but you make a difference. You are the difference and your life matters. Maybe more than you know.”
Lost Girl tweeted back: “❤ Thank you.”