07/17/2014 08:47 EDT | Updated 09/16/2014 05:59 EDT

How Social Media Has Helped My Depression

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For me, social media is a distraction. My ability to focus for the past several months has been minimal at best, so a quick check with Twitter or Instagram seems to keep my mind temporarily preoccupied from the usual battles raging within it.

Usually I follow people who keep me laughing as I try as hard as I've ever tried to keep myself from slipping so far down again into an abyss of nothingness that I'm convinced the next well of anguish is going to suck me into a space in which the walls will be so damp and slimy, I will be incapable of clawing my way out of it. I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. Even though I've recently felt a reprieve from the hammering assault of cutting pain, I wake each morning with a heavy heart and a feeling that I will never know what joy is.

I've been writing about my depression and the co-morbidities which have accompanied it, in an effort to speak out for those who literally can't lift their heads from the pillow; for those who aren't as lucky as I am, and are unable to even stand up long enough to dress for work or even sit for a family meal. I desperately want those who tell us that this disorder is one which can be overcome with an abrupt "Get over yourself" or "Think positive" mindset -- to know, to really know that depression is crippling us.

Although I wake each morning with an ache within me that is a reminder that crying is easier than smiling, my determination to stand with those who understand this debilitating feeling, and who can only hope that others will speak on their behalf when they are too weak to open their mouths -- I have been noticing lately that the "friends" I have been making on various social media sights are relating to me; are sharing their stories with me, some positive and some more devastating.

But through it all, despite the hand of gloom hanging over my head determined to shove it under water until I gasp for air; sparks of something akin to joy cause my heart to beat a little faster, as I realize that my own efforts to advocate for those who can't advocate for themselves is being rewarded by others who are doing for me as I am trying to do for others.

Rather than seeing nothing after I post a particularly bleak tweet or a caption speaking about mental illness, my notifications explode with questions and comments, all curious and positive about this awful invisible assailant. Total strangers will send their love and prayers out to me. Others will thank me for being brave and outspoken.

Social media, unlike my first fear that sharing who I really am rather than hiding behind a façade of comic relief, would cause me to feel even more alone in a sea of clever, funny people -- that fear has been proven wrong as people are relating, re-evaluating their take on mental illness, and/or coming out of their own dark hole to see if they also will be accepted.

Despite the negativity associated with social media as society submerges itself behind screens of all shapes and sizes, the anonymity has not provoked negative commentary, rather has begun a dialogue which I believe may only have been possible through concealment of identity, and an understanding that the world is slowly, thanks to those who reach out, share, and promote healing -- the world wide web is trying to understand rather than condemn.


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