Why is it that people with a mental illness are drawn together? It’s like a magnet, that we can be in a room with 50 people and only seek out the people with problems. I will agree, it has always worked this way for me. Even when I was at wits end, others would seek me out for advice and comfort. I was always willing to oblige. This is how I became a mental health advocate. The willingness to help others. But what happens if you yourself are overwhelmed? And you need support from others who are always clinging to you? Let’s take a look at this phenomenom.
Facebook, MySpace, on and on they go. So many mental health sites. So few people to solve all your problems. I’ve been noticing this on various online networking sites. So many members and so few personal resources. The administrator who created the site is usually one person. The members can be in the 1,000’s. Can one person help over a thousand members? No, they can’t. So other members tend to become substitute listeners. Does this work? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.
I always worry on these sites that someone who is in dire need gets lost in the shuffle. I was addressing this with a friend the other day. She told me that on the various mental health sites, like Facebook, she has experienced several suicides. I was aghast! How could this happen? She said, ” You know Lisa, we can’t save everyone.” She’s right, I guess. We can’t save everyone. But we can try.
Living in an age of high technology has it’s perks. You can vent about your problems to someone who is in Australia, if you choose. But what if they are going through a major depression and never again sign on? It isn’t like you can go to their house and check-up on them! It creates a huge stress. Are they okay? Did they commit suicide? A very scary thought ensues. It can truly grate on the mind and create stress in your own life.
So what can we do? If you feel someone has hit rock bottom, this person should become your top priority. Make sure you have their phone number and address, if need be. Make others on the site rally around this person. They normally will seek out someone who they feel they can trust. This is important. It will create a bond between the two of you.
Remember, you can’t help someone else if you don’t take care of yourself first. Helping someone who is suffering from depression, bipolar disorder…etc…is all well and good, but you must maintain your own mental balance first. This is primary. I was told this when I became a nurse. The lesson still stands. Helping others is a noble and selfless way to be. Just make yourself the first priority…..
For anyone who needs local help for depression here in Palm Beach, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is located in Lake Worth, Florida. Their local # (561) 588-3477. They can also help you with any questions or referrals you may need.
My Contact: LisaRK@aol.com Email me anytime. (Always confidential) Thank you for subscribing to both my columns…:)