Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Seeking Help from Strangers

Tonight I got a message on Tumblr from someone who really likes my fanfics. I sent back a message, and soon we were chatting. And at some point in this conversation, this person who I had never spoken to before disclosed that she was feeling suicidal because of her university workload, her upcoming exams, and the two jobs she's working to pay the bills. 

And this is the thing about the internet. It's very easy to tell strangers things behind the anonymity of a user name and a cartoon avatar. And it's very easy to back away and say, well hey, I'm not responsible for the mental health of a stranger. That's some crazy I didn't sign up for. 

But what if this kid doesn't tell anyone else? What if I'm the only person she's disclosed this to? Or, worse, what if she runs into some asshole online who thinks it's funny to dare her to do it? 

So that inconsequential chat about fanfic tropes turned into me wrangling a promise out of her to call a helpline. It's easy when you're under pressure to feel overwhelmed by everything. Depression sucks, and it's like any other illness: untreated, it can get worse. So she's going to call that helpline, and yes, she's going to check in later with me. 

Sometimes when we write stories, the connections we make with our readers aren't the ones we expected. I hope people like my stories. I hope they have an emotional reaction when they read them. But what I never hope is to get this again: "TBH, your updates are the only good thing in my life at the moment." 

I hate that this girl feels so alone, and I hate that she feels she has nothing in her life that is worth sticking around for. I hate that she's so depressed and stressed, and that she said the only reason she hadn't tried to kill herself was that she was afraid she'd fuck that up too. 

To be honest, I'm not even entirely sure why I'm posting this. Because I was rattled, I think. Because it would have been so easy to brush off with a cheer up, you'll feel better soon. Because too many people think that when someone says they're suicidal, they're attention-seeking. People who really mean it don't tell anyone first, do they? And that's falseIf anyone discloses to you that they want to self harm, please make sure they seek help. Even if they're just a stranger on the internet. 


  1. Good reminder that there are real people, living real lives, and dealing with real problems at the other end of the keyboard. To that girl who's feeling like life is getting on top of her, hang in there. No matter how hard it feels, it is only temporary. Keep going, get help when you feel overwhelmed or sad or alone, and you will come out the other side of it. And big, big *hugs*.


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