This post is by @positivitysmile and was first posted on myjourneydowntheroadlesstravelled. Thank you for allowing me to re-post it here – I love how it illustrates some of the ways in which social media can be used to support wellbeing and recovery.
I felt like it was important to write about the positive effects of social media on my mental health. Yes, engaging with social media can often have its down sides, some of which I have had recent experience of, but it can also be a fantastic, supportive tool
As a survivor of sexual abuse, I have never really spoken properly before with other survivors. I have felt and thought things that I assumed were disgusting and wrong, as well as holding the firm belief that I was the only person in the world to feel such things. However, introducing myself in to the world of social media has meant that I have been able to connect with other survivors. I’ve been able to see for myself that there are other people out there struggling with similar feelings as me. I have found support and understanding, as well as a wealth of useful information via various twitter accounts. For example, if it weren’t for creating an account on twitter, I would never have stumbled upon Kate Swift (@ThisTangledWeb) and the fantastic work she does on This Tangled Web (website). There is a whole host of useful information on the website and her tweets are also informative, motivational and supportive. If it weren’t for some of her specific tweets, I wouldn’t have felt able to dedicate a day for myself to “self nurture”. Remember my Harry Potter DVD marathon with Haribo sweets and cherryade? The motivation for that self nurture day came from @thistangledweb. This is just one twitter account out of many to provide useful support and information. Here is an example of smaller and more local charities using social media to reach out to the masses. That is where social media can really come in handy. It connects people that otherwise would never have crossed paths and encourages a supportive community.
Social media is also useful because you can essentially “go at your own pace”. You can pick and choose who you would like to connect with, and how much you would like to say or not say. You can be someone who just sits back and reads all of the information posted by the people you follow, or you can engage with people. I am an anxious person, and would definitely struggle to speak with other survivors of sexual abuse in person at this time, so twitter has really proved useful for me. I have been able to communicate with people in writing and have learnt so so much. Some of the people that I have spoken to have such amazing strength and are inspiring. It has really helped me to know that there ARE people out there who can relate to some of what I am feeling.
Another positive of social media, which I was not expecting, is that there are tweets from various people working in mental health. I have found it really interesting to discover how passionate some of them are about the work that they do, and how dedicated they are to supporting people who need it. To my surprise, there are also tweets from the mental health team who I receive support from, @LeedsandYorkPFT. They post useful information passed on to them, as well as regularly linking followers to their website, where they can find links of where to get support if required. It is only recently that I witnessed them helping a mutual follower by showing a genuine concern, whilst maintaining the professionalism required when using social media. It was lovely to see.
There are also a whole host of fortnightly chats on twitter surrounding different areas of mental health, predominantly for staff, but who also encourage service users to take part. One of these chats in particular is the Mental Health Nurse Chat, which can be found at @MHNurseChat. They run a fortnightly chat for mental health nurses and those with an interest in mental health, and cover a wide range of subjects. I have followed the tweets of some of these discussions and have found them to be incredibly insightful. It is good to see staff, service users and lots of other people come together in such a way to discuss important topics.
There are also discussions of a similar setting happening across twitter for various different mental health conditions. People have been inspired to set up their own “chats” and provide useful information and support. One such chat that I have found personally useful is based on Borderline Personality Disorder, and can be found at @OfficialBPDChat. It is a weekly chat covering a variety of subjects concerning Borderline Personality Disorder. It was suggested to me by a psychiatrist last year, that I probably have BPD, and I was given links to different websites to read up on it. When I came to twitter and discovered these weekly chats, I was able to see other people describe feelings and actions that I have felt and done. I could hear myself saying “Oh my god, I’m not the only person who does that!”. Irrespective of whether or not I agree with the diagnosis, the tweets from people who have also received a BPD diagnosis have been incredibly helpful for me personally. Had it not been for social media, I wouldn’t have been able to connect with other people in such a positive way. On Twitter, I have also been linked to some interesting and insightful blog posts from various people. Inspiring.
I have also found it helpful to follow twitter accounts of people who post motivational quotes, funny pictures and the like. It can definitely help put a smile on your face if you come across a hilarious tweet or two. My account itself has also been made for me to attempt to focus more on the positives and twitter has given me the platform to do just that. I try and think of at least one thing that I am grateful for each day, or something that has made me smile. It also motivates me to keep tackling social anxiety in the way that I am doing, because I can tweet regular updates and bore my followers with it all. But the key is motivation.
Focusing on the positives has really helped me and so it seems only natural for me to highlight the positives of social media too. I know that there are negatives, and that they cannot and should not be ignored, but look at all of the good that social media has done for me personally.
Has it helped you?