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How I'm Learning to Deal With Trolls Who Comment on My Mental Illness Posts

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They say the pen is mightier than the sword. I have come to find this especially true as someone who publicly shares her life on social media. I tend to put my issues out there, whether through The Mighty, on my website, or sometimes on my personal pages. I like to share my stories, my accounts with my mental illness, and more; I do this because I believe that in sharing my story I can help break the stigma that comes with having a mental illness and can encourage people to get help and know they are worth it.

I get a lot of positive feedback, and I’ve even gained some friends through my articles. But there’s always a troll or two who really knows how to get to me.

For those of you who don’t know what an internet “troll” is, I’ll shed some light. A troll is someone who writes a comment or message to someone just for the sake of argument and insult. They don’t have an opinion to share; they’re messing with you to get a rise from you. In short, it’s an online bully.

I’ve come to learn how to handle trolls publicly. I’m a frequent user of the block/ban button. But I’ll admit, I’m a sensitive person. I take things to heart. When I’m trolled on a piece I’ve written about mental illness, I feel like my thoughts or feelings aren’t valid. I could have a sea of messages saying I helped someone, but that one troll will always stop me in my tracks, even for a few moments, and jam me up inside.

I know I’m not alone, as I have bared witness to seeing my friends get trolled — everything from receiving insults on political beliefs, to appearance, and even to getting threats from perfect strangers. And I know I’m not the only person in the writing community who gets these messages. It’s hard to deal with that because we tend to dwell on the negative. It is possible, however, to throw these thoughts away. It’s not easy; I’ve been trying to do it for years, and I still trip over the curveball comments at times.

The truth is, trolling hurts. Insults are insults no matter if they’re from friends or strangers. Insults attack us in different forms. It’s an attack on our identity. And I get it, I’m a writer I should be prepared to just roll with the punches. But I’m also a human, and I respond to insults online just like I would if a person walked up to me and said it in person. I’m a person with a fragile mind state.

I want you all to know, bullying in any form isn’t OK. Maybe it’s just a few words to the bully, but that bully doesn’t know what’s going in in their victims’ lives. And quite frankly, the victim don’t know what’s going on in the bullies’ lives. All we can do is protect ourselves, but talking can help.

If you’re being harassed online, please remember to be kind. Maybe that person needs kindness in their life. Maybe you can help them out; but never sacrifice your own mentality and safety, and be liberal with blocking trolls. If you’re the troll, maybe reconsider. I know people will always troll and always bully. But maybe your point can be made a different way. You could cause more damage than you may know.

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Thinkstock photo by Philll_bg

Originally published: February 9, 2017
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