First of all, I would like to apologise for my unexpectedly prolonged absence from the world of blogging. My period of quietness has been due to the many ups and downs I have been experiencing with my mental health since my last post, but also because I have recently been very busy doing some things in order to keep myself busy and productive.
Initially, I wasn’t going to write a new blog post today. In fact, a week ago I was never going to write a new blog post ever again due to some rather unsavoury comments I had to deal with by someone on a certain social media platform that sent me into a downward spiral for a few days. My post today, however, is inspired by a TV documentary I have literally just finished watching (Roman Kemp’s “Our Silent Emergency” to be exact). The show really hit home in many ways and made me realise that I really wasn’t alone when I was at my lowest point back when I was 14 years old, even though at the time I couldn’t seem to escape the isolating metaphorical bubble that was undiagnosed clinical depression.
Since watching this documentary where I saw just how prevalent depression and suicidal thoughts are amongst young men these days, I have been made to feel both shocked and thankful. To be shocked, you’re probably thinking, is understandable, but to be “thankful” may seem like an odd way of putting it. Well, allow me to attempt to explain…
When I was a teenager I was depressed. I had started to realise this when I was 13 years old in 2006 and I noticed I was different to other people. My feelings and thought processes didn’t seem to match with others my own age. Inside my head I struggled to achieve an understanding of where my growing negative thoughts were coming from. The frustration of not feeling as if I was losing control of my mind led me to go down a path of self-harm, the scars of which I am left with to this day. However, one thing that was still seemingly new and not utilised as much was social media. For this, I am thankful.
To me, social media is a toxic hellhole of negativity and bullying. I hate it. The irony is not lost on me that I am posting this onto a social media platform for all to see, but I feel as if I lot of people, like me, associate mostly negative experiences with social media than positive ones. I tend to use it as a way to communicate and stay in touch with family and friends rather than to post status updates that will more than likely be criticised in one way or another by someone who just wants to argue for argument’s sake behind the safety net of anonymity on the internet. As a victim of bullying, I can’t cope when this happens to me and I feel the need to step away, which is why I came VERY close to putting an end to Andy’s Spectrum. If I find the toxicity of social media too hard to handle as a grown man, how on earth must it be like for children and young adults these days?
The amount of pressure on young people to perform is ridiculous in my opinion. They are pressured by their teachers and parents to achieve good grades in school and are pressured by each other to play in a game of internet popularity. Various apps and websites make every young person feel as if their only aim in life should be to become internet famous, which means they join these sites as users and open themselves up to the awful people of the world whose only goal in life is to put other people down. The horrible, disgusting and downright evil comments some people leave on other’s posts are despicable. Most adults would struggle to take them on the chin, so how the hell can we expect young people and children to do that?
The documentary I watched made me think about these things. There wasn’t anything in the show about the negative impact of social media on people’s mental health, but I feel it should have been mentioned. There was a section of the documentary that showed how children around 10 years old were being taught about mental health problems in school. I have mixed feelings on this in all honesty. While I feel it is a good thing that mental health is being normalised and discussed openly in order to remove the stigma normally attached to such subject matter, it saddened me to realise deep down that children needed to be made aware of such things at such a young age. I can’t help but feel this is partly due to the fact that we are now a social media world and children need to be taught how to deal with the inevitable bad feelings they will experience at some point due to what they may see or read online in the near future. And to think, at their age I was busy playing outside every night after school without a care in the world. I feel for them, I really do.
I’ve unexpectedly had my eyes opened today by a TV show. The Covid-19 pandemic has really hit people hard both financially and emotionally and I think it’s probably safe to say that most people’s mental health has suffered as a result of that. I’m not going to tell you to stay strong or to keep going because it’s not always that simple. There is only one thing I am going to say that I hope will help.
Around the world we are all suffering at the moment. Every day feels like Groundhog Day and some people are really feeling the mental strain and are wondering if they can continue. One of these people could be your colleague, your neighbour, your friend, your family member, your partner, or even yourself. There is a way you can help these people and that is to TALK and LISTEN.
Talking can save your life. Listening can save someone else’s life. They go hand in hand.
If no one was there to listen when I finally felt ready to talk, I wouldn’t be here now.