How do I decide what to share?
3. Will anyone else but me care? No= Pick new topic
2. Do I have valid research to back information I talk about? No= Pick new topic
1. Should I post about an ongoing unresolved crisis? No= Pick new topic. Solve crisis privately, post when there is a resolution to crisis. NEVER, EVER televise the nervous breakdown.
Why? Why shouldn’t I share my most difficult moment as it’s happening?
Let’s take a trip back in time to a simpler era, 1996. It was not so simple for me. I was in denial about my health. Long story short: I coped by drinking lots of alcohol, smoking and pointing out what I thought were everyone else’s problems.
It was a great way to loose friends and alienate people. It was also a great way to exacerbate my Raynuad’s phenomenon with my smoking, weaken my immune system which was already being suppressed by methotrexate to keep the scleroderma from progressing. Is it any wonder I developed MRSA while smoking and drinking alcohol in the early stages of my scleroderma diagnosis? Not to me.
Now, imagine I had a blog and a video camera in 1996. I know that self righteous person in denial that I was, would have been video blogging while drunk and smoking. How is THAT helpful to anyone newly diagnosed? It’s not. I was in a mental state that required help. I was in no shape to be offering it.
I can only say this because I was lucky enough not to be diagnosed in an age when social networking and video blogs existed. I needed something private. I needed help with my own mental an physical health.
Now, I am in no way discouraging patients who are having a rough time to avoid social networking. In fact, I encourage patients to seek support online. My two favorite sites specifically for patients to reach out to one another are; Inspire and my new love, Treatment Diaries. I want to encourage other patients to use time spent televising the nervous breakdown, to instead use it to solve the crisis.
There are different audiences for watching nervous breakdowns and the choice to televise one’s own to me is the equivalent of the judgement to making a sex tape. Here are but two of the types of audiences I have observed:
1. People watch it in the way they watch a train wreck or the Kardashians: It’s just so F**&$ up, they can’t look away.
2. Patients looking to justify unhealthy coping skills. They see a blogger who claims to know a thing or two and appears “sicker than they are” and think that coping with alcohol and smoking is okay. It’s irresponsible as a blogger who claims to be helpful because the video blogger having the nervous breakdown is planting the seed, “That person smoked and drank- that person is okay, so smoking and alcohol won’t hurt me either.”
Now I know that people have their own minds and many cannot be easily influenced, but at a critical time when someone is seeking information about a potentially fatal condition over time, looking to a blogger drunk and smoking is not helpful. Allow me to provide an example of someone I knew who died too early because she refused to quit smoking and drinking after her diagnosis of scleroderma.
A family friend was diagnosed with scleroderma. She was in the early stages. She began drinking more heavily, and continued to smoke. Eventually, she developed pneumonia, went into a coma and died. No one will ever know for sure if she would have lived longer had she not been smoking, but here are some things to ponder:
-Someone with a smoker’s cough might be less likely to visit a doctor before bronchitis becomes pneumonia.
-Smoking greatly decreases the body’s ability to fight infection. Alcohol, impairs judgement. I have been more likely to smoke more when I did drink and smoke. Anyone else experience this?
That this person was unable to detect an upper respiratory infection, fight pneumonia and was a heavy drinker and smoker is a correlation, or variables existing at the same time. That is the relationship, in her case, of scleroderma with drinking and smoking. As I said earlier, no one will ever know if she would have lived longer. We only know these conditions existed together. Had the smoking been eliminated, maybe she would have seen her doctor in the early stages of an upper respiratory infection. As a person fighting for his/her life, what would you choose or advise a good friend to do?
Televised Meltdowns- on purpose:
Having a meltdown online while smoking and drinking, to me is irresponsible as a blogger that wishes to help others. It is important for a blogger who claims to be the example and teach others, to be the example or cautionary tale with a helpful resolution or show the negative effects this type of behavior has.
Now, onto having a nervous breakdown online in a blog post or video without a resolution:
Please, step away from the computer, put down the camera and seek help through a licensed practitioner, family member or friend. We all have friends online, but they may only be able to help though social media and that may not be enough. Distance therapy can be done through Skype by licensed practitioners, but you can research their credentials. It’s helpful to seek support from peers. It is counterproductive to try to solve your own problems by seeking the help of someone in their own crisis. We can still learn from them, but again, nothing helps more than a licensed practitioner, trusted friend or family member.
We all have online “friends” but if you are in crisis, ask yourself these questions before looking to them for advice. Take time to ponder your own answers to these questions.
1. Have you met this person in “person”?
2. Are they in crisis?
3. If so, have they resolved this crisis in a healthy or helpful manner? (Been there, done that does not qualify as helpful if “friend” is still “there” without seeking help.)
4. Does this online “friend” criticize your decision to seek help outside their community?
So, I still have moments of depression and fear of the progression of my disease. I cope with these issues, find a solution and blog only if helpful to others. I do not want to be that person where someone watches my video blog and thinks, “For God’s sake, someone put down that camera and help this person.” I thought that after watching the videos of Anna Nichole Smith after she passed and will now leave online meltdowns that to the Kardashians. I have a strong support system of friends and relatives who will help when I need it. If you are a patient and friends and family are not an option for you, I urge you to please visit Treatment Diaries, and contact a health practitioner to get help.
Thank you for reading.
Scleroderma Research Foundation: http://www.srfcure.org
Treatment Diaries: http://www.treatmentdiaries.com
Read about The Open Path Psychotherapy Collective: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-fugelsang/mental-health-care_b_2017486.html
Here is a link to the fundraiser that will make Open Path established and provide mental health services to patients who fall through the cracks. If you know anyone who may want to contribute, please share. This is to be a nationwide program and there are only 11 days left in this fundraiser. http://www.indiegogo.com/oppc
Psychology Today: Find a Therapist. Ask about sliding scale fees. http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/
For Veterans: http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov
The day I decided to seek help: Making It Stop By Making It Through