21 Honest Pictures People With Mental Illness Want to Post on Facebook, but Don't
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have a history of self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
Facebook — and social media in general — is an amazing tool that can make the world a little bit smaller, and make keeping in touch a little bit easier. But when you live with a mental illness, sometimes it can feel like there’s no room for you to share how you are really doing when all you see in your newsfeed are the best snapshots of people’s lives.
For people who feel the pressure to always look “OK” online, this one’s for you.
We wanted to know what people with mental illness want to post on Facebook, but feel like they can’t, so we asked our mental health community to share one photo they wish they could post about their mental illness. It’s important to remember mental illness looks different for each person who experiences it. While some can hide what’s going on behind a smile and perfectly rehearsed act, others may not have the ability to do so all the time. Whatever way your mental illness manifests, you deserve to talk about it.
Here’s what they shared with us:
1. “The photo on the left is me with a full face of makeup. The right, me during a depressive episode triggered by loneliness and separation. After the episode subsided, after I pulled myself together again, I decided to try to cheer myself up by making myself at least ‘look’ better. I have posted the picture on the left, but never the one on the right. I don’t want others to think I am seeking attention. Nor do I want others to see how ‘weak’ I can be. How literally just being by myself can trigger an all out war inside of me. I am embarrassed and ashamed that as a grown woman I am still incapable of being alone.” — Kristen S.
2. “This is my regimen. I really am trying hard to take my meds and be what is expected. I just want to feel better. I did not choose this life, it chose me, for whatever reason.” — Shelly H.
3. “Because. Because I still feel. Because I called a friend yesterday to know if he was still here. Because no one called me to see if I was OK for months. Because there are times I still don’t want to live. Because I want other men to know that feeling this way is OK, and getting help is OK. Because I’m not afraid to cry. Because, we’re human.” — Dexter N.
4. “That cross on my wrist is not a tattoo. That’s a coping mechanism. It’s only Sharpie and I know it’s weird, but it has gotten me through so many rough days. I can hardly explain why because I don’t fully understand it myself. I have anxiety and sometimes all I can do to keep myself from breaking is write. And write and write and write until I feel like I don’t have feelings anymore. I don’t want anymore to know how much I’m struggling though. I don’t want anyone to be afraid for me or afraid of me. So I hide it. I hide my writing and my cross and I don’t let anyone know how much I’m hurting.” — Annie O.
5. “This is me in the throes of a bipolar mixed affective state. The first photo is of me right before my morning gym session. I felt completely invincible at that point. I felt I didn’t have a single worry in the world. The second photo is of me 15 minutes after returning home from work that night. I was in absolute agony. I was afraid of myself. I was suicidal. I just needed the pain to stop. Luckily, I had a few close friends who were keeping an eye on me because they knew I wasn’t far from doing something drastic. It is exhausting to have your mind and body shift from ‘motivational speaker and doer’ to feeling so worthless.” — Amy T.
6. “This is when I got rid of all my blades, I’m proud of it, but feel like people who don’t know about my cutting will ask questions I’m not ready to answer.” — Rachel D.
7. “My wife and I ran a 8.92 mile race on the 4th of July. My fear in sharing photos like this is that people will assume because we look happy and healthy — that I couldn’t possibly still be depressed. Especially in Christian circles, people wrongly assume depression is either demonic or temporary, and that some magic Jesus pill can magically ‘fix’ us. I could have just as easily shared a picture of me, playing with my kids or standing behind the pulpit during a Sunday church service or any number of ‘normal’ things. My fear in showing these is that people forget I still have a mental illness. But I can never forget. Because, behind the smiling face, there’s a guy with a brain that’s wired just a little bit different.” — Steve A.
8. “I am currently living with BPD [borderline personality disorder], and as an artist, sometimes photography is the only outlet that can truly soothe me. I will take self-portraits displaying my current emotions or feelings, but sometimes they are too emotional to post. I feel I may be judged or labeled as ‘attention seeking’ as they are generally not very happy portraits.” — Katherine V.
9. “I took this picture just after a long episode of anxiety and crying, to show myself I survived and I can smile. I am hesitant towards sharing this on Facebook because I don’t think anyone would understand the sense of it, and many would get concerned.” — Pallavi T.
10. “This is me and Abbath Sweater buddy. This picture was taken Christmas Eve night of this year, the night my parents decided to disown me. I made this plushie to distract myself from the plunging feelings of depression. I could hear them talking about me in the other room, as they always did. This plushie is still my companion to this day… He’s been with me through the whole journey of estrangement. This was the day my mental health started seriously plunging into what it is now… Anxiety, episodes of fear of abandonment acting up, depressive spells… He is modeled after my favorite musician who has been an important part of my struggle.” — Eddie E.
11. “I don’t upload most of my drawings when my mood is low to social media because people don’t understand my mental illnesses. Some people on my friends list would give me the sympathy that makes me feel as though I’m wrong and need to be fixed. Some people would think it’s as easy as a cold, that I go to the doctors and boom I’m fixed and then some people would give me the typical ‘stay strong’ quote, when in fact it’s OK not to be strong sometimes. I only want to upload the drawings to put people in a different mindset so they can be more aware of their words, actions and start to understand all I need is support and not for people to only take an interest when something dramatic happens to/in my mental health. Because mental health isn’t a one [time] thing for some people.” — Jodie A.
12. “I shared this selfie on social media and a lot of my friends liked it or complimented me, but honestly this was one of worst days for my anxiety and depression. I felt so empty and cold but they didn’t know.” — Rene S.
13. “[This] is a self portrait I took and it’s a reenactment of the first time I sat home alone, at Christmas, trying to decide whether or not I’d live or die. It wasn’t a sudden epiphany, crystal clear mind, message from God or any kind of mental strength. Ultimately, it was a chance message from a dear friend who saved my life. Amy, who is working to overcome her own depression, reached out because she felt like something was amiss. If not for her gut feeling, it’s likely I wouldn’t be here today. Everything I accomplish, every life I touch and every difference I make is because she chose to reach through the darkness. I literally owe my life to her.” — Shawn H.
14. “I have severe PTSD, GAD [generalized anxiety disorder], bipolar, BPD and haven’t slept in my bed for over two years after sexual assault for fear of someone breaking in my house. I sleep in the recliner out in the living room. So I can guard the door — safety, fear issues. I may average two to three hours of sleep a night. I don’t open the blinds day or night.” — Angie R.
15. “Very few people have ever seen the extent of my pain and suffering living in the darkness of PTSD and depression. A paramedic who saw too much for too long reliving every horrific detail day and night. I don’t post these photos normally because of stigma and to shield my family as they have [struggled] enough. What I have mastered is putting on a happy face because one thing I haven’t lost is my desire to help others.” — Michael G.
16. “I have bipolar disorder. I took this while I was in the ‘dark place’ which is the depressive side. I felt so alone and was so tired from trying to act normal at work and trying to block out the suicidal thoughts. I was crying myself to sleep. Facebook is a place of facades where you try to make your life appear better than it is, so you definitely don’t post pictures like this out of fear of stigma or judgment. I usually try to take a selfie when I am manic or depressed and I wish I could post them on Facebook to show people what mental illness really looks like.” — Lieryn B.
17. “This sculpture [is] in DC. For me it represents the confusion in my mind every day living with bipolar and PTSD. My mind is moving in every direction and has compartments. I am very complex.” — Bridget S.
18. “I want to post this picture on Facebook but I can’t because it was taken in my room at my stay in a psychiatric hospital for self-harm and suicidal ideation. I can’t post this picture because it shows my scars and my hospital bracelet. People are already so judgmental and I don’t want to be looked as they girl who is always in inpatient treatments. I just wished people would look me in the eyes and not [at] my scars.” — Fernanda N.
19. “I wouldn’t post this on FB because it shows the scars on my arm, but I love the photo.” — Jen H.
20. “I’ve been diagnosed with major depressive disorder for 10 years now. I want to share these photos, but at the same time, I don’t… I feel it would be very uncomfortable for my friends.” — Mark C.
21. “This picture captures one of the lowest moments of my life. Suicidal thoughts I couldn’t control, the most painful depression I never knew existed and of course, my old friend anxiety. I’ve made it my mission to spread mental health awareness and to be a voice to those who need it… On a happier note, I’ve changed medications and am doing much better. My boyfriend never gave up on me, he waited, waited for me to return to myself. And I did. I’ve never felt such compassion and love.” — Whitney F.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.