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What Happened When I Posted About Anxiety and Depression on Facebook

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Author’s note: The following was created from actual Facebook posts and comments. However, all names have been altered and profile pictures removed.

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met… And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.” Alan Bennett, “The History Boys

I used to be afraid to post about mental health on Facebook. I was afraid to be judged or that people would think I was suicidal or would not want to comment or share. I thought Facebook was a place for cat memes and silly videos, not for meaningful, in-depth conversations about people’s thoughts and feelings.

Then one day I found a succinct description of what it is like to have depression and anxiety that resonated with me. After much internal debate, I decided to post it.

I was blown away by the response I received. The post received 763 likes and 5.1K shares. Most of all I was intrigued by the comments on my post and on the shares.

Facebook post that reads: Having anxiety and depression is like being scared and tired at the same time. It's the fear of failure but no urge to be productive. It's wanting friends but hate socializing. It's wanting to be alone but not wanting to be lonely. It's caring about everything then caring about nothing. It's feeling everyone at once then feeling paralyzingly numb.

One of the things I discovered once people started sharing my post was that there were so many people who not only agreed with me, but who finally found the words to completely articulate their feelings. I felt voyeuristic getting a window into each person’s story. We all had a common connection of living with depression and anxiety.

Facebook comment that reads: I didn't think simple words could describe the depths of this torment. But I swear this hit me right in the top of the head. No one could possibly want to be depressed.

Something I loved seeing was people coming out to their partners and supporting one another. I would see people tag their partner, hoping they would get the hint. I was glad they expressed their desire to stick by each other’s side.

Someone tagging their loved on in a post

Sadly, I wasn’t surprised by how many youths were struggling and trying to make sense of it all.

A facebook comment that reads: I know. I have had this since I was around 13, just horrible.

Some of the people I least expected to speak openly about depression and anxiety shared the post, albeit in their own unique language.

Facebook comment that reads: Dude, yes! This explains exactly

I learned there is still a lot of work to do to educate people.

A Facebook comment that reads: Get over it over one goes though it, it's called growing up

I learned people can speak out about mental health without currently being in crisis, despite what their son might think.

Comments that read: I'm sorry Mom, I sure wish you could find happiness again. I love you.

The post inspired some to reflect on their faith.

Comment reads: "Couldn't have explained it better myself. When I learned it was part of my melancholy type personality. I decided to embrace it, if I needed to stay in bed a little longer, I do. Even since I stopped feeling guilty about it, and just go with my natural flow. I'm freer and more productive, I've gotten better with age. Knowing God, and being passionate about something, has kept me alive. God says that u need a vision, has worked for me. Got to have friends help u pray past that dark cloud that hovers over.

Although Facebook can be a place of negativity at times, I was glad to be able to witness so many people from different corners of the world being able to come together and share our common struggle.

Facebook comment that reads: My life is that to a T

After this experience I was even more committed to fostering dialogue about mental health. I’m convinced people do want to talk about it. It’s just that some needed the language to describe what they were feeling all along. So maybe Facebook doesn’t always have to be so silly after all.

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Image via Thinkstock 


Originally published: January 31, 2017
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