#Audioboo : why I"ve come back to social media @chrisbrogan thanks (mp3)
Chris Brogan published "Depression is an offline event" on 27 October. I was surprised because I’ve been thinking about how I could restart this blog after 9 months silence. Because of my depression, I’ve been absent from all social media since January. Chris Brogan’s words spoke to me - gave me the lift & hook I needed.
I’m back here now - a changed person.
My bout of depression was awful.
Although I’ve had several bouts since 1992, this time was as bad as ever. The knowledge that I’d survived & pulled through before was hardly any consolation to me. It didn’t shorten or reduce the dominance of anxiety & low low mood every day. I felt as dreadful as I’d ever done, as hopeless, as cut off, as lost…
I gave up writing. I found the thought of social media & networking made me nauseous. All the connecting I’d done so furiously & enjoyably seemed pointless & a waste of time. I spent huge chunks of the days alone in the house - avoided going out to meet people as much as possible. My confidence & self-esteem sank. You could say I practised the art of not existing - every day from mid January until about 10 October.
Of course I went out & did things, went places, met people during this time. But my heart wasn’t in it. It felt to me as if I was going through the motions of being a person - without any of the satisfactions you expect from ’ordinary life’.
The long time I spent with you in Lahinch over the summer helped - but it didn’t lift my depression. I felt fortunate others were so good to you. Did I ever thank them properly? Did I ever help them?
But the depression has lifted.
I have hope again - some confidence & self-esteem - a multicoloured life has returned to me - and I now want to connect with others.
That’s why I’m writing this.
Back to what Chris Brogan wrote:
"In the last several weeks, two people that I’ve known from online have taken their lives. In both cases, there were tweets or Facebook posts or Google+ updates that hinted that things might be falling apart. But we rarely notice such posts. We rarely hear them loudly, because they aren’t Siri jokes or cats dressed like astronauts.
Depression is tricky. People seeking to connect and get solace online, it’s not really going to help. You can’t count on your Twitter following to pull you out of a depression. You can’t feel floored when your online friends don’t hear you loud and clear. Remember that everyone is living out their own biography, and they might not be as aware of what’s been going on with you…"
Chris Brogan is a hero of mine. I’ve looked up to him for ages, admired his viewpoint & allowed it to influence me in ways I’d find hard to spell out. He usually writes about business. To find him sharing such tough & personal news moved me - I felt supported by his words - as if I’d found someone who lived in the same world as me. It is so good when a celebrity opens up & is as real & human as this, isn’t it?
Chris continued with this advice:
"… Seek help offline. Visit a priest or a rabbi or whatever religious person makes sense. Visit a shrink. Talk to your doctor. Often times, depression is a medical problem that is exacerbated by experiences happening in your environment.
You’re not alone, but the online world makes it really hard to see your pain. Things move too fast, are too shiny, and we are all hurrying around. The online world can make you feel more alone when you’re feeling sad.
Get help early. Don’t feel like you are a failure because you need some help. The strongest people in the world get help often, in many forms. You are worth it. Please, seek help offline and then come back and chat with us, too. Okay? "
I have sought help offline & now come back to chat with you all. You can easily imagine how encouraging your words have been, how they have been the difference between staying silent and reaching out online again.
But I’ve changed.
I’m not the same person I was before my depression. Or I am the same person, behaving differently. (I prefer the second formulation.)
I’ve thought hard about why I crashed with depression. Why I’ve crashed before - so rapidly. I’ve listened to others & taken their views more seriously than ever before.
I won’t be blogging & tweeting with gusto & frequency - as I did so enjoyably, frenetically & obsessively. I’ve held back for about three weeks - resisted the urge to rush forward into the fray of online life. I’ve been careful to limit the number of people I’ve caught up with face-to-face. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because my priority is taking care I don’t get drawn into overdoing myself.
I need a quieter life, with much fewer projects & ambitions. I need to be gentle & moderate. Did anyone ever describe me as "gentle & moderate" before? I bet you didn’t..
Thanks a million
A huge "Thank you" to all who contacted me online & asked how I was. Your words helped me feel unforgotten - even helped me feel I meant something valuable to others. Even though I never replied to you - and often wished I didn’t exist at all - you did me good. My feeble memory recorded your kind concern. I appreciated every word & wish.
I apologise for vanishing without explanation. If I could, I would have written a short note - as Marian Keyes did in January 2010. That would have been considerate but I didn’t have the strength for that. (Marian also wrote these moving & informed pieces in May & June 2010.)
Afterlife is now for me…
I feel more meaning in the phrase "today is the first day of the rest of your life". I’ll do my best to strike a satisfying & sustainable balance (you know what this means.). Yes, I’ll feel again the urge to spend massive energy on attractive ideas & projects. I’ll need help from others to keep me on track. I can’t do it alone.
You are such a support to me - my job of being a good-enough father to you matters so much to me. Thank you for being here, for giving me the opportunity to live & keep well.
With love to you all, and a special thanks to Chris Brogan.