With the advent of the increase in advocacy for mental health there has been the birth of an interesting but isolating phenomenon. As individuals begin to hear echoes of support for mental health chime throughout the internet, the reality of support and support systems has taken on a hollow tone. In my own experience with fighting depression, I have found it has become much more common for an individual to support the idea of making depression less taboo rather than actually supporting individuals that suffer from this debilitating mental illness, or any illness in truth. What’s worse, most do not seem to realize that there is truly a distinction between them.
It is becoming increasingly common for people to rally behind the flag of representing the experiences of a group of people in order to reduce the taboo, raise awareness and to support inclusiveness. Yet in doing so, the opposite is almost always the case in practice. This act of rallying distances these individuals from the reality of the people they are trying to support because it creates a concept to rally behind rather than actively taking steps to help. Which in most cases leaves little that is done to actually assist these groups of people as a whole, no matter how many individuals say “I support you.”
Though it has never been easy to find a support system when suffering with mental or physical illness it is becoming harder to find the more people group behind social media to support individuals from a safe distance. Although many will say that they support you, they are saying they support the idea of you getting the necessary help you need. They are not saying that they want to provide that help. They are not saying that they want to be of service. They are not saying that they want to confront the reality of your hardships head on and face them with you. This leaves you confused and helpless as you search through the voices of those saying “I support you” to find one that means “I will help you and stand by you through this myself”.
In many ways, I find this flood of internet support and awareness has become more isolating than anything. At least before the cries of support rang about social media, you knew who really meant it and who didn’t as soon as you said “I’m not well”. There wasn’t a wall you could hide behind to pretend that you would be there.