Embracing Social Media in an Isolated World

Having Bipolar has turned me into a very private person and this has created a void in my life. There are times when I am happy to be left alone and simply not care about what the world is doing. There are other times when I feel lonely and isolated. This is where I desire to have a connection with people, want to feel less alone and crave the need for support and understanding.

Creating a blog dedicated to my illness was designed to help fill that void. Getting likes, comments and followers of my blog had it’s desired effect during the initial phase. Now I feel somewhat empty again. I have been too low in my mood to put something meaningful together in the hope that others will identify and appreciate what I have to say.

My last few posts have been dark and angry which relates to the way I’ve been feeling. The void and emptiness of not having people in my life continues to manifest though. I participate in a couple of mental health forums but sometimes I struggle to feel like I’m really heard.

I use the reader in wordpress to keep up with blogs I am following. As pathetic as this sounds, I am sometimes envious of people with regular likes and comments. The same applies to those who have Facebook and Twitter followers.

Today I have created a Facebook account and a Facebook page for Bipolar Beach with the hope that over time, this builds up to help fill the void of feeling lonely and isolated. The problem though is that I find it very difficult to share things personally about myself.

There is a mild acceptance of where I am at with my life in terms of having Bipolar, the medications I take to manage the illness, and the lifestyle I lead, despite all of this. However, there is a deep sadness within me that there are no people to talk to or hang out with. I guess there is added difficulty being in my mid thirties. People have come and gone. Others have settled into married life and are busy with raising kids and the rigors of everyday life.

The negative aspects of social media such as stalking and bullying have left me with the belief that living in anonymity is better than being vulnerable and exposed. It saddens me that tools designed to bring us closer together, can have such devastating effects. But I guess that comes down to the fact that there is always going to be bad people in the world. I am turning to social media to feel more connected and reduce the impact of the loneliness and isolation that comes with having a mental illness.

Another issue that I think about is finding love. Finding that one person who understands and accepts you for who you are. I seriously wonder if I’ll experience love again in my lifetime. I’m sometimes curious as to whether I can actually find the right person over the internet, but think this is probably a bit naive. There is also a part of me that thinks I’m better off not being in a relationship. At least during this phase of my life where things are more challenging than they should be.

I don’t spend the entire day on the internet but it is the first thing I do everyday. It helps me to feel calm and focused. I am returning to study in November and the degree I am pursuing will be done online. This fits well with my needs and lifestyle. I hope to meet some like minded people that will challenge and stimulate me, alongside the study content .

For now, I will continue on my mission of trying to feel better connected, despite living in isolation,

It might be only wishful thinking, but I hope you can support me on this journey.

R U OK?

In Australia today, it is ‘R U OK?’ Day. According to it’s website (ruokday.com), R U OK? Day “is a national day of action dedicated to inspiring all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask each other ‘Are you ok?’

It’s a great initiative and before I continue, I would like to ask you, Are you ok?

The website also states: “By raising awareness about the importance of connection and providing resources throughout the year, the R U OK? Foundation aims to prevent isolation by empowering people to support each other through life’s ups and downs

Again, a wonderful idea. But I have to ask, why does it take awareness campaigns to do the things that ‘should’ be part of everyday life?

And although this day of awareness extends beyond those with a clinically diagnosed illness, I can’t help but especially think of those of us that do suffer with mental illness EVERY DAY!

I will come back to the issue of mental illness though.

On this day, I ask myself, who would this question be applicable to. Who would benefit from the words ‘R U OK?’

Maybe those who are having a tough time at work. Your relationship with your partner is having some difficulties. Perhaps you are struggling as a single parent, or you haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep for weeks, even months.

Again, I ask the question, who would benefit from being asked such a simple question.

The simple answer is: anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or what level of difficulty you are experiencing in life, everybody can benefit from this simple and reassuring question.

It’s all well and good to preach the obvious, but I am just as guilty when it comes to being ignorant and lazy. There are at least three people I can think of that I could call and ask this simple question. The fact is though that I haven’t. I remain too caught up in my isolated existence that I don’t think of others the way that I probably should. Depression can be so selfish in that regard.

For those of us living with mental illness, it is highly important to be connected in one way or another. As an example, for me it is writing this blog as a form of therapy. I also make use of an online forum. Others see a therapist etc. In today’s world, there are so many ways for us NOT to be completely isolated and feel like nobody understands.

The sad reality is that despite having ‘links’ to people who can relate, loneliness can still be ever so brutal.

With complete respect to the fact that others do not live a perfect existence and have problems like the rest of us, I am envious of those who have support networks. Friends who are supportive, understand and do not judge. People who have wives and husbands. People who are able to experience the joy of raising a family. People who are connected in the community.

So am I okay? Honestly, not really, however I am surviving and remain grateful for the things that I have.

How about you? Once more, I ask the question: Are you okay?