Blogging is about community. It’s about sharing and interacting and telling our stories. It’s about friendship and honesty and all that’s good about people meeting people. Blogging is about change, about language launched into action. It’s about hope, about faith, and sometimes even about love.
So it’s happened in the past week, since I’ve been recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month, two bloggers have visited my site, two women who have fabulous and important blogs about mental health that put Ghandi’s imperative into action—they are “the change” many “want to see in the world.”
Sandy Sue’s “A Mind Divided” explores what it means to live with bipolar disorder and uses mixed media art to image its message of hope in the midst of struggle. Just the other day Sandy wrote about the poverty that often accompanies mental illness, about having to choose between meals and medication, since sometimes she can’t afford both. She rightly suggests that those who say money can’t buy happiness . . .
. . . aren’t considering those of us who walk to the grocery store when we don’t have enough money to get gas for the car. Or who simply stay home, because funds for the groceries aren’t there, either.
Reminding us that “in all the ways that matter, money does buy happiness,” Sandy focuses a light on an ugly underside of mental illness, the poverty that often prevents patients, no longer able to work, from getting the medications they need and sometimes even food to eat.
However, “Suicide Ripple” delivers an even more sobering message—that, indeed, some don’t live long enough to go without medication or become hungry, because a hard, cold fact remains: mental illness kills. Begun by the friend of a bipolar-diagnosed woman, who committed suicide in January of this year, “Suicide Ripple” is about
the effects such a suicide has on a family, a community, even people who didn’t know the person who completed suicide. This one act by one individual causes a ripple effect that can reach hundreds of people all over the country, even the world.
The writer hopes her blog will prevent others from ending their lives, showing the impact such deaths have on loved ones left behind, as well as comfort the survivors themselves, creating a community of support.
The bottom line is this—social media has massive impact, affects the way we think about ourselves and the communities we’re part of. As such, blogs should be used to lessen isolation, loneliness, depression and despair. If blogging can create the very thing so many suicide victims lack, the very thing that drives them to end their lives and hurt the ones they love, if blogs can build community, create caring environments where sharing can be safely and anonymously undertaken, then more mental health professions should exploit this potential, and many more who live with mental illness should tell their stories, talk about their struggles, share the hope and joy, peace and comfort that come with recovery.
May more of us use our blogs to affect change. As Ghandi so wisely advised, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”