I’ve talked before about being a freelance writer (and editor, and designer) here. As part of that career, I’ve joined a BUNCH of networking groups over the past year.
Tonight, one of those groups led me to the most triggering article I’ve ever read. I’m not going to link it, but it was a very cruel piece that was essentially pro-suicide on a women’s website known for “clickbait” pieces.
I wish I hadn’t read it – the little bit I read before closing that tab and staring at my screen in rage. But I had two very positive outcomes from this. First, I’m recovered (in remission? not sure about the terminology here) enough from my mental illnesses that, although this was incredibly upsetting, I didn’t feel like going out and acting on the article. And second, the group that brought it to my attention immediately began acting upon the knowledge.
I’m not going to name the group, because it is a private one. Technically, we’re really not supposed to discuss things that happen within the group outside of it at all, but I was so encouraged by this surprising support network that I’m going to anyway.
A lot of us in the group (which has hundreds of members) have dealt with mental illness, addiction and trauma in our past and present. A good percentage of us have had suicidal thoughts or even made attempts in the past, and others have lost loved ones. We’ve shared these experiences with each other in the past, through our writing and within the networking group.
As soon as this article came to the attention of the group, members began organizing. A letter to the website that published it is being group-written as I write this entry, asking them to either take the piece down entirely, or to include suicide prevention information and a trigger warning on it. Members who have written for that site in the past – even those without mental illnesses or their own – have asked for their pieces to be removed. We found out that talk shows have reached out to the writer due to another piece she had written, and are contacting those shows asking them to include suicide prevention information when they interview her.
It’s an outpouring of support that has surprised many of us – and it shouldn’t. Someone with a chronic illness, autoimmune disease or cancer would not expect to be ignored if someone wrote a horrible article about their struggles. It sucks that mental illness is still treated like it has an easy fix, and that people with mental illnesses who can’t just “snap out of it” are worth less than mentally healthy people.
We are worthy people. We deserve to have the help we need to live healthy, happy lives, whatever that may mean for us. And we should not be blamed, and our families should not be blamed, when we go through difficult periods.
And it is so, so encouraging to realize that you’re in a space where you’re not the only person who feels that way, and where you and others with mental illness or a history of trauma can speak about it and get support instead of being ignored or told to shut up. Especially when it’s not a space specifically for discussing mental illness.
I hope you all have spaces like that in your lives, and support networks you can rely on.
Photo by Nita J Y