Social Media Is a Warm Gun: A Dangerous Tweet About Depression
By Morgan Shanahan on January 01, 2011
"Depression exists in selfish people. Step outside yourself, helps others [sic] & you will feel better!" --@TheDailyLove
The scary thing about social media is it has a nasty habit of allowing some dude who Googled stuff that one time and thought about some things and then decided maybe it would be fun to share them with his MySpace friends (I'm loosely paraphrasing, but seriously, only loosely) appear to be an expert of some kind.
Mastin Kipp, founder of The Daily Love -- and the dude who sent that mess of a tweet out into cyberspace and called it “inspiration” -- has 305,322 followers on Twitter alone, countless numbers of whom have their own accounts set to auto-RT everything he says, as evidenced by a quick Google search for the now-infamous tweet. Plus, thanks to the endorsement from Kim Kardashian Kipp credits with launching his "career," I'd be willing to bet that quite a few of TDL's devotees are looking to this guy for some sort of spiritual guidance, or secrets on reaching celebutante levels of success, or something of an equally disturbing nature. Kipp does not disappoint, delivering his (self described) "e-multivitamin for your soul" to the hungry masses via blog, email list, clothing line, and COMING SOON...personal one-on-one mentoring.
Maybe you think I'm being a dick. Most people would probably recognize Kipp's tweet (which has since been deleted with an apology) for the misguided attempt at "self help" that it is -- or, for those really lacking any semblance of a clue, maybe you nod your head in ignorant agreement and go about your day. But to someone who is struggling, truly struggling with depression -- especially undiagnosed or untreated depression -- those 140 characters might just be your worst fucking nightmare.
That's me one year ago yesterday. New Year's Eve, 2009. I showered that day for the first time in a week, and even then, only in an attempt to ward off the overwhelming anxiety brought on by the fact that Randi and Adam were (graciously) coming over to spend their New Years with us and our infant.
Randi. One of my closest friends in the world. A bridesmaid in my wedding. A person who has been a positive presence in my life since I was literally Delilah's age...RANDI, who doesn't have a judgmental bone in her body, just coming over for dinner caused me to panic. Like, really, heart-stoppingly, panic.
But my rational self, the me who never struggled with depression for a day in her life, the me who returned phone calls, and showed up to stuff, and didn't have three hundred unread emails waiting to induce hot flashes and agonizing, stomach-churning nausea at the very thought of their existence -- the ME who I always KNEW myself to be -- was locked so deep inside of the solitary confinement of undiagnosed postpartum depression I couldn't even begin to see how irrational the fears and anxieties that gripped me actually were.
Depression is a slippery little sucker. Having never struggled with it, I didn't recognize the signs. I didn't know that the thoughts and the darkness and the sheer and utter self-loathing would feel so... justified. So... organic. So real. Depression played on my insecurities -- the loss of my job, the colossal weight gain, the paralyzing fear of losing myself and my ambitions to "Mommy" -- and it put on such a spectacular showing that I was unwaveringly goaded into believing the judgment and loathing were coming from the outside rather than within.
So instead of asking for help, I felt ashamed. I hid. I sobbed that the New Year had arrived and I was still an epic loser with nothing to show for my life. I flagellated myself for letting down those around me, all the while letting them drift further and further and further away, unaware of the darkness that was threatening to take me down like a tidal wave.
"Depression exists in selfish people. Step outside yourself, helps others [sic] & you will feel better!"
Asking for help was the hardest thing I've ever done. Letting go of the denial and feeling all of the terrible feelings I'd stuffed down so hard for so long was physically painful at times, and had those 140 characters passed across my screen while I was fighting with everything I had to reach out for a hand to help me climb out of that abyss? I don't know if I would have done it.
* * *
I'm not writing this post to be snarky or dramatic or condescending or mean. I love social media. I pretty much think it's the greatest thing since Rock of Love Bus. But seeing that tweet sent shivers down my spine, because, Mastin Kipp, whether I like it or not, what you say matters. Especially to those lost in the darkest corners of their own mind, just waiting for someone to agree with them. So... be careful with which words you wield out there, okay?
And if you're suffering from depression, you're not selfish, you're sick. And you deserve to feel better. Please ask for help. I know it might feel like you'll never find your way out, but you will. I promise, no matter what that nasty little voice inside your head (or the internet) is telling you, you will.
Morgan (The818) is a blogger and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. She overshares her personal life -- complete with curse words -- at The818.com, talks art and design over at Cargoh.com, and tweets: @the818.