This has got to be hands down one of the worst things you can say to a person, especially a person going through a depressive or anxious episode. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. I’ve had it said to me more times than I can count, even by people who have their own anxiety issues and I’m pretty sure that I’ve also said it myself when I shouldn’t have. When we are depressed or anxious, it’s easy for our actions and conversations to become annoying to others. We may appear to be constantly complaining, moaning, or just going on and on about the same thing over and over again. Unfortunately, this is how our brains work at the time and we don’t have a lot of control over what we are thinking and feeling. This will be obvious in our actions and what we say.
I saw a Vaguebook post on Facebook the other day. We’ve all seen these posts, vague, negative, whiny posts that appear to have just been posted for attention. And in a way they all are. Some people Vaguebook for attention from others: ‘Worst day ever!!!’ Then when the comments produce a flood of ‘what’s wrong?’ they just get ignored by the original poster. The point of the post has been achieved, attention has been received, everyone can move on. Of course the inbox often gets flooded as well which is another win, any attention is good attention! Then when that attention dies down, it’s time for another vague post. These posts are a cry for help, but if you offer help or advice, it won’t be taken. These people are not ready to admit they have a problem (this takes time) and for the time being just need attention. I’ve definitely posted things on Facebook like this in the past (Facebook memories has definitely had me cringing some days!)
Then there are the Vaguebook posts that are technically for attention, but are actually a cry for help. It’s very difficult to distinguish between the two because at face value they often look the same. But these are generally the ones that aren’t surrounded by happy posts and are often from the people you would least expect it.
The post I saw the other day, I know was a cry for help, but it was disguised as attention seeking. And people were annoyed because ‘it had been happening all too often’ (at least that’s the only way I can begin to understand their reactions). The very first comment on the post was ‘what’s wrong?’ to which the person did respond, negatively but still vaguely, to which the first commenter said, ‘oh yes, I forgot you are in full on victim mode, snap out of it mate.’
This comment attracted a number of likes. That is not okay! I get it, people are over Vaguebooking, I’ve definitely gotten sick of it in the past, although more of the first type of people than the genuine cries for help, but that does not make it acceptable to put the person down with a complete lack of understanding of what they are going through. I was pretty angry when I saw this.
I proceeded to reply to the comment, offering sympathy, advice and letting the original poster know that I understood what they were going through. I was quite clear about the fact that I was not impressed by the ‘get over it’statement and offered an explanation as to why. I also suggested that Vaguebooking wasn’t the way to go about things, as it can attract negative attention. Someone else jumped in with me and it ended up being quite a string of comments of support and advice which I thought was awesome. The original poster joined in the conversation and I really hope that we were able to help.
If you see a Vaguebook post or have an experience with a person going through mental illness in real life, don’t be a dick. Don’t tell them to get over it, that won’t help. It will make them feel worse about themselves and they will hide how it’s made them feel, something that we get far too good at when we are going through a rough patch, something that ultimately prolongs our recovery. If you don’t like it, ignore it. If you don’t know what to do, ignore it or ask how you can help. If you understand the reasons behind why they are acting this way, then be there for them. You don’t have to fix the problem, only they can do that, but it sure is easier with support and without other peoples negativity. We create enough negativity ourselves in these situations, we don’t need others to do it for us.
Smiles and Sunshine