I wanted to make a blog post today on the mental health advocacy I have been doing online. I have mentioned it before but it really has grown greatly even in the last week. So much so, that I haven’t been writing in my blog as frequently. But I want to give everyone an update on all the incredible things that have been happening. I stated earlier that I added thousands of people of to my Facebook, mostly advocates and counselors and people who suffer from mental illness. I found immediately that a lot of these people I added were highly responsive to my posts in a positive way, I got a lot of comments about how people could relate to my posts and how it was having this positive effect on them. I found all of a sudden I went from getting maybe 1 message a day to about 10 messages a day from different people, sometimes. a lot of the messages were from life coaches wanting to a online one and one chat with me, I talked to one woman for about 1.5 hour on a Skype call and she was wonderful and quite helpful. Other people have sent me messages want to go live with them to discuss mental health or to make a podcast or collab on an article. I can’t describe how that feels, I mean, it’s incredible and overwhelming because I’m not used to it. I don’t know, it’s healing feeling but causes anxiety because whether I like it or not, I am in the spotlight, there are thousands of people ( Facebook, Instagram and my blog combined) seeing what I post, reacting, sharing what I’ve written and I am out there in a huge crowd all looking at me, it’s unnerving. I am used to feeling put down and unheard and now it’s the barrage of praise ( mixed in with some negativity) and I having trouble coping with it sometimes but I’m not complaining. It takes up a lot of time and it makes me realize about the assumptions we make when someone doesn’t respond. I would like to respond to every message and comment and say yes to every offer with another advocate but I don’t have the time or energy. And I am finally beginning to realize what it’s like to be on the other side, where you get so many messages, you can’t possibly respond to every one. And I thought how I felt ignored in the past and failed to realize that people are busy and they can’t always answer messages, especially if they aren’t urgent. It just made me think.
I also want to talk about going live on Facebook and Instagram. About 3 weeks ago, I did my first Facebook l ive about mental health with another person and I was so anxious, I didn’t know this person or how she would respond or how the viewers would respond, she actually invited me out of the blue and I decided to say yes. But it went really well, we just talked for an hour about mental health and learning disabilities and she was really nice and understanding and as we kept talking, I felt calmer and I could sense the viewers were also enjoying it. Afterwards, I got all these positive messages and comments, I was just blown awat, I mean, it was indescribable, an elated high. I got a message from someone about doing suicide prevention Facebook live with her. It didn’t really work out but the fact that she asked was such an honor.
I also got a message from the friend of the person I went live with and she mentioned a podcast and I had never even thought of one, even though I was doing video ( which is far less nerve wracking) And we talked for a bit and I decided that creating a podcast would be a good idea, I am less nervous during audios and I can write what I want to say so I don’t stumble over my words and keep focused. I created a Podcast and have 3 or 4 Podcasts so far. I don’t get a lot of feedback because there’s no comment section or anything but I enjoy it and I’m doing it because I hope it will help someone. I plan on continuing podcasts and maybe eventually doing one with another advocate but I am trying to figure how it works, it’s confusing.
Oh and another really important thing that happened this was that I along with several others, created a mental health awareness group page on Facebook. And so far, it’s been great. I have about 90 members and we all post and encourage and uplift one another and it’s just positive. And I pray that it can a source of help to people and that it can grow and reach a large audience. And people have been so helpful with helping me set up the group, I go to them for advice, I encourage members to post whatever they want, I try to make it a safe place where people can express themselves. Like I said, it’s surreal that so I am connected with all of these people.
I want to go back to the Instagram and Facebook lives because I have done a lot them. So another person saw a video I made on instagram about social media and wanted to get on live with me and discuss it with me. So yesterday we both went on live and sadly her connection was really bad so we had to cut it short and so I decided that I was going to back to Facebook and go live by myself and discuss suicide prevention. I told the whole story of my how my brother took his life and everything that preceded it and it was really difficult, I was blunt and honest and didn’t omit anything. It was very raw but healing. And again the support was amazing but there was a very hurtful comment made and it is something I need to talk about. Well, this person knew my family and my brother during the time that he took his life. She basically said that was trying to phrase her comment lovingly but she was concerned that I hadn’t moved on from my brother’s death and that it wasn’t healthy to talk him so much or so openly, Maybe I would benefit more from counseling and then also said that I wasn’t “qualified” to help those who are suicidal because I don’t have a degree or certificate. Wouldn’t I feel guilty if I gave someone advice and they took their lives. And at some point the comment she said that my brother would want me to move on. I was sort of stunned and didn’t know to react and I said nothing, deleted her comment and put her on restricted in Facebook ( she is still my FB friend but cannot see my posts). It was a hurtful thing to say in opinion to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, she doesn’t realize that when I talk about mental health, it is helping other people and what I interpreted was that she was uncomfortable and wanted to silence me. I am not going to stop speaking out about mental health or suicide prevention and if someone doesn’t like it, than that is too bad. So I made the decision to not respond at all, I am afraid I might say something hurtful that I will regret so it’s best to ignore people like that, it just makes me sad, is all.
So yesterday, the day after the suicide prevention Facebook live, I had probably the most incredible day in terms of advocacy. I got a very long message from a friend who I grew up with and she seeking advice about helping her disabled clients. This is someone I really care about and I was so honored that she came to me, seeking advice and that I could be of help to her. I mean, usually I might message her with an issue and that may be the first she came to me with one. It makes me feel like what I am saying and posting is truly making a difference and sometimes I am so caught up in it that I can’t see it. And then after that ( in the same day mind you) , I got this message from a therapist that I follow on Instagram and she had seen a video I made about being on the autistic spectrum and wanted to know how I came to be diagnosed and what were my symptoms. She was asking because she had a client with similar issues who was wondering if she had autism. The therapist was coming to me and using my story as a means of diagnosing a patient. I mean, again, it’s it’s just you know, like unbelievable, it’s like a dream, where finally I feel I am understood and needed and all of that pain and anguish has lead to helping people, just wow, you know. And then I did an Instagram live with this woman who is an author that follows me. And we just talked about writing and using our experience to build our characters and it was so great. Right afterwards, I got on with another person who I have connected with and had like the greatest chat and it was wonderful to talk to someone who “gets me” and wants to help others like I do. And I never thought in a million years, I’d be going live with people. It was quite a day but it did leave me drained because it was a lot to process.
I want to end this post by saying that I at the disabled ministry and I was talking to this guy and here’s the thing, I have trouble connecting with males and sometimes I’m intimidated by them. So this guy is a big guy and boisterous and at first intimidating. But as I got to know him, I realize how much he cared about the young disabled adults, this person is gentle and kind and accepts everyone and very involved with church. I actually told him about my issues with math and told me to call him for help. So I saw him today and I was telling about the advocacy and everything that happened. And he was so excited for me, he was “dude I’ve got chills, this is amazing” and I could tell he was really interested in what I was saying. I guess my parents told him about my brother and he thought it was great I went live to talk about it. It was just nice to talk to someone in person who was also excited about advocacy, it’s amazing feeling. I feel this is God’s calling for me and I am just so optimistic about advocacy and will try to continue blogging and updating everyone. Thank you for all your continued support