Don’t read the comments

I am exhausted.
I always tell myself not to scroll through comments, it’s a rabbit hole of which I have no business going down, especially when the article involves me and my family. However, I still did it. I waited several days before I did and now I’m exhausted, my head hurts and my heart is weary.

When you scroll through the comments you realize how much mental health is really misunderstood. It’s a slap in the face that no matter how much I talk about it, no matter what I do on my dragonfly page, no matter the law that I’m trying to get passed… no matter all of this – mental illness continues to get a bad rap because people can’t help but judge something they don’t understand. I know this doesn’t rest solely on my shoulders, yet it’s very, very personal to me.

When people think of teen suicide they automatically jump to the conclusion that it was about bullying, so many of the comments are “we need to get kids to stop bullying”, “teachers need to be taught how to stop bullying”, “the kids who bully have the mental problems”. I hate to say it but bullying is only one of a gazillion reasons why someone may choose to take their own life. And it really isn’t the bullying itself, it’s the way that bullying makes the youth feel, mixing that into a head already full of self-doubt and pain. And just for the record, did you read any of the other comments besides your own on the article post? I ask because if you wonder where kids get bullying behavior from, take a good long hard look in the mirror.

The second biggest scapegoat is social media. Don’t get me wrong, social media can definitely exasperate mental illness; however, to blame it for mental illness is ridiculous. Mental illness, by definition, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. It’s depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors to name just a few. It’s no different than a physical illness. I think of it as a pain in your brain. Many of the things our teens see on social media compound negative feelings, and frankly are very mentally draining, for everyone, not just teens.

“Way to plant the seed. Every day they will look at the number – it’s like telling them there is a reason to do it.” I don’t even know where you are going with this. First of all, if you call any authority on mental health (AFSP, NAMI, Mental Health America, Oakland County Suicide Prevention, Common Ground) they are all going to tell you that it has been proven that talking about suicide with someone who is suicidal does not make them want to kill themselves. In fact, in most cases it does the opposite because talking about suicide is helpful in knowing they are heard. Putting a number out there for them to call in crisis is not telling them to kill themselves – it’s showing them that there is hope.

“Do you really think this will solve anything?” I don’t know random guy, do you have another idea? This comment and a few more with similar content threw me for a loop. If you don’t think this will work or you see a need in a different area, what is stopping you from being the change you want to see? What I really want to ask is “how is your view in the cheap seats?” This law definitely isn’t the end all be all answer to solving mental health; however, it’s at least a step in the right direction and it sure as heck can’t hurt. I put my neck out there to try to do something I think will make a difference in the life of just one person. You are welcome to join in on mental health and suicide advocacy – I don’t own the rights to it.

“There is doing something, and then there is doing something that is effective.” Again, random person, at least I’m doing something because we’ve already tried the doing nothing thing and that doesn’t work.

My favorite I think… “Based on the way mom and dad look to be smirking in the picture I am guessing they never taught their son that life isn’t always fair.” Here is what I have to say to that – I feel sorry for you because you are obviously miserable. You obviously have your own trauma that you are working through and I hope that someday you have the courage to talk through those feelings and repair your heart.

As I read through the comments I initially felt angry (I’m not saying I’ve totally let go of that feeling, but work with me). However, it really comes down to you don’t know what you don’t know. People are uneducated when it comes to mental health. We have stigmatized it so much that when people hear mental health they think crazy town U.S.A. They don’t understand the actual pain that accompanies it, the emotions, the dark voices in their heads that tell them they aren’t good enough. It is also times like this though, that I remind myself that I am not an authority on most things in life and neither are these people. Instead of throwing darts out there at the people and the things they think are the problem, or hypothesizing, maybe they should just recognize that this isn’t their area of expertise and just not comment. Or play the “if I don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” card.

I have also come to realize that I cannot change the hearts of every person out there. Some people are just mean, spiteful, hateful human beings and it makes them feel good to say nasty things from a keyboard to hurt other people. All I can do is pray for those people.

I have vowed to not look at the comments anymore because in true transparency, they make me angry. They also make my heart hurt for a million different reasons. What I would love to see is people rallying together to celebrate all the good things that are being done in the area of mental health and suicide because each step we take is closer to where we need to be. Stop fighting and name calling and pointing the finger at others because I’ve never seen one instance where that mode of operation has actually worked to solve anything.