25 April 2012

When It Hurts Too Much to Share

I recently noted that a woman I met on Twitter hadn't been active in a while. Lo and behold, her account was no longer active. This was particularly alarming for me because what brought her to me was when my post, "On Depression" made the rounds last year. We've struck up a correspondence via Twitter to bolster one another's spirits, often bantering about our embarrassing taste in music (though I still refuse to apologize for loving Bryan Adams's Waking Up the Neighbours). She had indicated in recent months that she felt compelled to withdraw from her friends. I took some comfort knowing she was still accessible via online social media, though. I know in my own experience that the support system I built online was instrumental in keeping me going throughout my Year of Hell. That she had severed those ties particularly frightened me.

I Googled her Twitter user name and eventually I found a tweet archived in which she was interacting with someone else. I tweeted that other user to find out of she knew anything about our mutual pal and to my good fortune, she had an e-mail address with which to contact her. I was relieved to learn that my pal with bad taste in music is just "taking a break" from Twitter and is doing okay, and that she'll return soon.

Just now, however, I received three direct messages from another young woman I've met on Twitter. She was brought to my attention because a young woman I know with Crohn's re-tweeted her one night and I got the distinct impression she was in a very dark place emotionally. I tweeted her to see if she was alright and she assured me it would pass. She is battling anorexia and depression, and she breaks my heart. I am reluctant to share her message to me, but I wish to have it archived for reasons I will explain momentarily.
thank you for being so awesome to me, I'm going to be deleting this account in hopes of overcoming this disorder.i just cant keep doing this
i'm going to be okay! i just cant have this around me. I hope life brings you all the wonderful things you deserve. you are a great writer
but most of all a great person. :)
I readily admit to you, Dear Reader, that I am tearful right now. I so much want to just hug this young woman and find some way of chasing away her demons. I can't do either of those things, though. In fact, I can't even reply to her because she deleted her account while I was in the process of typing a response to her first direct message! I understand why she feels that participating in Twitter, at least with that account, contributes to her problems. I've discussed it in the past, but it bears repeating: We must always be mindful that our common woes are not the only aspect to ourselves. If all you talk about with someone is whatever issue you both have, then it's going to be an unsatisfactory relationship for one, but also it can create a sort of tunnel vision about your self-image if that's all you talk about.

To my young Twitter friend, I would say this: You are much stronger than you've let yourself realize. I don't refer to your discipline to fast, but rather the strength you summon to keep going, day in and day out, with that torment inside you. You have a sweet nature, and you're the kind of person the world needs to remind us of the good in ourselves. I wish with all of my heart that you reach a place where you've managed your health disorders and I want you to know that you're welcome to contact me any time you want. It doesn't have to be to discuss how you're doing, or how I'm doing. We can chat about anything at all, including our embarrassingly bad taste in music.

Seriously, I actually own this:

See also: "How to Form a Support Network"


  1. Larry Longhofer @larryll794/27/2012 5:25 AM

    Its been awhile since i have been here and I do count you as a friend, we have so much in common. I found one bright light with my Irritable Bowl Syndrome is that the colonoskpys have kept me from having colon cancer. I know that sometimes any silver lining can come when you least expect it. But i wanted to share this with you and your readers. Keep up the good work, you mean more to me than you will know Travis.

    Hugs Larry

    1. Sounds like you've got some winning going on there, Larry! Glad to hear some positive news out of you.

      I was cautioned not too long ago by a dear friend of mine that I "can't save everyone." I told her I knew I couldn't save everyone, or even anyone; I don't have that kind of power. But I do like to believe I have the power to help, and I thank you for reminding me that, on occasion, I've done so.

  2. Hi Travis!

    You really are helpful, and were so helpful to me when I was around. I just wanted to drop by to your blog (which btw has been bookmarked in my phone)to let you know that I'm okay :) I really am sorry that I left just like that but it definitely was for the best. I feel different; in both good and bad ways. For example, I feel quite lonely that I don't have people around me for support yet since I can't share my negative feelings with others, I find myself focusing on the good things and allowing myself a different outlook on this weird mess that is my life.
    I'll be dropping in and out of your blog because really, I could use some improvement to my writing skills. And who knows, maybe when I do start my own blog, I'll be brave enough to share it!
    Best wishes and thanks SO MUCH!!!

    1. First of all, I am thrilled to hear from you and that you're okay! Believe me, I understand very much what you mean about the dichotomy between helpful input and being surrounded by that one issue all the time. I'm constantly on guard against it myself with Crohn's disease. I need my support network, but it's not healthy for me (or anyone else) to let that become such a dominant topic of conversation that it casts a shadow over the rest of who I am. There's a danger in that kind of tunnel vision, which is one of the points I emphasized in an earlier post about how no one topic, not even the most important topic in your life, is sufficient to establish a whole relationship.

      That's one reason why I feel it's so important that I not keep separate blogs anymore, which I did a few years ago. I think it's important that readers know not just why I have a certain reaction to a political event or a movie, but also for me to see that, yes, I deal with depression and Crohn's but I'm also a comic book reader, a baseball fan, a moderate liberal, etc.

      It's something that I came to on my own, but shortly after I made that decision, I began to read Roger Ebert's blog. He often includes personal reminisces and socio-political editorials along with his content about movies, and his argument is that those posts help his readers better understand why he responds to movies the way he does. It's a very holistic view, and it's one that I embrace for the very reason you've mentioned: Because if you don't discuss more than one part of yourself, even if it's in a positive light, that one aspect becomes overpowering.

      Whether you return to social networking or not, I really do encourage you to embrace that kind of larger view of yourself. You're so much more than a woman facing an eating disorder, Diana. You've told me, for instance, of your enthusiasm for history (an enthusiasm I certainly share with you!). Remember, the rest of the parts of you don't have to be "equal" to one another in importance. Obviously, the issues I face with my health are much more serious than, say, my enthusiasm for Batman.

      It's not about balancing each aspect with one another, though, but rather accepting their coexistence that helps bring me peace. It's not a permanent peace, of course; I have to fight for it every day. Some days, it's easier to win than other days. I have never doubted that you, too, could win that fight and that you, too, deserve that peace.