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Raw and Open: The SickNotWeak family

Guest Author: Jody Betty

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

Compared to most people, I am relatively new (three to four years) to social media. I thought it was actually a bit pretentious, being that most people seemed to be in some sort of competition for numbers of followers and friends. I stayed away from Facebook in particular, as quite frankly I had no interest in being found by people I knew in Grade 3 and the thought of making up a false identity seemed like far too much effort. Besides, I was never the type to just sit and “creep” on people’s pages so the entire premise made little sense for me.

I had my breakdown near four years ago now, and at the time, was so lost, so isolated and lonely, so bored, that I decided to give Twitter a try. Now previous to this I barely understood what a tweet and what a hashtag were, nor did I have any interest in learning, but on a particularly lonely day I decided to start a Twitter account.

On a particularly lonely day I decided to start a Twitter account.

It did not take me long to figure out how it all worked and I found myself reading through the thoughts of complete strangers. I am not sure what led me to look into the mental health hashtag, but doing so literally changed, and perhaps, saved my life. I did not tweet much at first, but rather absorbed as much information as I could from those people expressing thoughts that I had thought were exclusive to me. What I had stumbled into was an enormous community of like-minded people, all brave enough to share their thoughts online. I figured if they could do it, perhaps I could to, and so slowly, I started to tweet, to reach out, and to understand that there were people who had been through trauma just like I had.

The people I was now friends with encouraged me to start a blog where I could share my thoughts and feelings with the intent of helping others feel understood, and so, I started my blog (jodyb2016.wordpress.com), despite the hesitation and fear, and began to share some of my words with the world. The response I received was mind blowing. I could never have fathomed that so many people, from so many countries and cultures were actually interested in what I had to say. Not only were they interested, they felt understood and validated for perhaps the first time in their lives. They realized they were not alone and that effect was profound on me.

The community is like a giant family.

At about the same time, my now dear friend Michael Landsberg was starting a mental health foundation and online community called Sick Not Weak.  I can’t recall who introduced us, but we hit it off, and I was thrilled to both join and volunteer in this newly formed online community. Sick Not Weak has been going strong now for about three years, and continues to grow by the day. The community is like a giant family of non-judgmental support and love. When you reach out your hand, there is always someone there to take it. As isolated and alone as we all feel at times, there really is a sense of support available in the Sick Not Weak family.

Just over six months ago, I had the humble pleasure of being asked to write bi-weekly for their website in a column we called “Raw and Open.” Not only has it been a privilege to write for them, but it has given me a platform to be able to reach even more people and to help spread the word about mental health issues in an effort to reduce the stigma.

I am so pleased that my words have reached so many people from such incredibly diverse backgrounds, and so grateful to have another avenue to share my writings with you. The responses I have received from all the wonderful readers have touched my heart and soul on numerous occasions, and for that, I thank you all. I thank you for taking the time to read them and for taking the time to comment, and mostly I thank you all for being a part of this #Sicknotweak family.

It is a safe space where all are welcome and supported, and we all know we could use a lot more of that in today’s world.

Jody Betty is a guest blogger for SickNotWeak who, in her own words, is a master at the art of survival. She lives with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is co-afflicted with MDD, Dysthymia and Social Anxiety. She has survived three serious suicide attempts and a handful of overdoses which lets her know it isn’t her time. You can read her blog “Raw and Open” posted bi-weekly on Thursdays on SNW.

Comments

Piroska
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Thank you, for this.
It is so important to be connected to something, someone, somewhere when one is struggling with mental illness. It is an isolating illness, one that fills us with doubt, fear, loneliness, desperation.
Reading that someone else is going through some of the same or similar feelings makes us feel less alone. It fosters hope.

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