I’d like your attention please – #Blaugust Day 15

Content Warning/Trigger Warning: Depression, suicial thoughts, suicidality, suicidal ideation, attention-seeking behavior.

Some time ago, friendships on the internet were viewed as being “not real”. You know, because it’s just “people on the internet”. Which is not the case. The engagements that you have on the internet are very real. People have met spouses on the internet, as well as in video games like WoW. People have made life-long friendships on the internet. And the internet has saved people’s lives.

The thing is, our ability to engage with people who are more similar to us has changed with the internet. People are not able to find like-minded individuals in ways that they didn’t used to be able to. So people who once felt alone can find folks with whom they share a connection, or similar interests can find each other on the internet.

Now comes the hard stuff. When someone is depressed or suicidal, we tell them to seek help. One of the hardest things to do is to ask for help of any kind. Depression not only convinces you that no one gives a fuck about you, but it isolates you from those very people who do care about you. It keeps you from reaching out because it doesn’t make sense. We’ve seen it happen on twitter, where someone makes one final plea for help and the community rallies together to get information to the right people and hopefully get help to them as quickly as possible.

There is always some asshole who says that this is “attention-seeking behavior”. Yeah, no shit you fuckin’ dumbass.

It’s probably a safe bet to assume the jerkwad who makes these kinds of comments are the sort who have never experienced suicidal ideation or moderate-to-severe depression. For weeks and months and years people try to tell others that if they need help to ask for it, but then when someone does ask for help they’re dismissed as being an attention whore.

Do you even fuckin’ hear yourself?

OF COURSE THEY’RE SEEKING ATTENTION! THAT’S THE DAMN POINT!

Okay, okay, I’ll calm down a little bit. The thing is, depression fucks with the rational thinking portions of the brain in a similar way that anxiety does. The difference is that depression tells you how worthless you are, how no one cares about you, and that no one will miss you if you’re gone. It tells you that your friends are tired of hearing about your depression, and reassures you that they don’t care anyway. It keeps you there, isolated, away from people, because it’s easier to control you from that vantage point.

Depression doesn’t give a fuck about you or the people in your life. The people in your life give a fuck about you.

So seeking help and asking for attention is what should happen. Instead people think that it’s okay to tell folks to ask for help (seek attention) when they need it, but then turn around and shame them when they do.

Seriously, this has to stop. I think it needs to be understood that when someone asks for help, overtly or otherwise, it took a lot for them to do so. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing.

Every life matters. And we should seriously stop trying to make people think that attention-seeking is somehow terrible or bad.

Actually being an asshole is terrible and bad. How about stop doing that instead?

US National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Canadian Suicide Hotlines
UK Suicide Hotline
Australian Suicide Prevention Hotline

This post is part of the #Blaugust series.

4 comments

  • Ysharros

    My depression eventually told me the only possible thing I could do to find any kind of peace (in my own head & emotions) was to not be there anymore. I got to a point where death seemed like a welcome alternative — indeed, the ONLY alternative.

    Fortunately I am also a huge coward *and* quite smart, and I realised I might have hit bottom. I sought help (note that at that point I was already on medication – medication is not a magic wand), I did a lot of thinking, I had a number of epiphanies. I got a handle on my depression.

    4 1/2 years later I can say that I’m not currently suffering from depression. Life being what it is, I’ve realised instead that I’ve also been suffering from anxiety all my life and didn’t know it until I got to spend a few months *not* being anxious (wow, was that weird; like shedding an unwanted ACME-100lb load).

    Reaching out is the hardest thing to do. I dived inward so badly it’s only because I have marvellous friends that I still *have* those friends 10-15 years later.

    If anyone is reading this who does suffer, do the best you can to try. Write it in chalk on the pavement, or in eye-liner on your foreheaf. Tweet it. Instagram it. Blog it. Talk to your doctor — say “Uh, I’m depressed” before you can stop yourself, because spoken words can’t be deleted.

    • Hestiah

      People who’ve never suffered from depression (or anxiety) have the hardest time trying to conceptualize what it must feel like to be a sufferer of those things. And really, it’s not the easiest thing to try to explain it in a way that non-sufferers can easily understand.

      But the thing that pisses me off the most is when someone is at the bottom and no one noticed the subtle cries of help, they’re treated like crap when the overt cries of help are heard and acted upon. Several times I’ve seen twitter rally together to ensure people were helped and/or saved from attempts. And without fail the douchebags come outta the woodwork claiming those same people were just “wanting attention” or “attention whoring”.

      Yeah, fucking duh. They’re depressed and their damn brains were telling them no one gave a shit about them! Of course they’re looking for attention. Because it’s human to want to live, to want to fight to live in spite of ourselves. So in that last desperate plea, someone says something and help is given. But holy crap, do we need people to be on death’s door before we stop trying to harm them for asking for help??

      I’m just kind of tired of the mental health community being it’s own worst enemy.

  • Ysharros

    It’s not just the community. We live in a culture that is afraid of — and consequently vilifies — mental illness. The basic portrayal implies it’s actually a character defect that we should be able to do something about through sheer willpower, despite the fact that we’ve come far enough to call it an ‘illness’. Because that’s exactly what it is. I don’t expect to be able to beat AIDS, malaria, pneumonia or tuberculosis through sheer willpower, so let’s stop acting as though brain chemistry is a matter of choice.

    Getting off the soapbox now since it’s your soapbox 😀

    • C. T. Murphy

      This 1000x over. Mental fitness is a thing, but as a society, we ignore it even worse that our physical fitness. Worse, we demonize those who do take strides to attend to it, through therapy or medication, and we do this whole ‘cull them from the herd’ thing that only further aggravates mental issues or problems. It’s a clusterfuck.