I’m not ignorant to the fact that there are people out there who believe I overshare on social media. Usually my oversharing posts are comical, so at least the humour can be appreciated. But when I overshare about mental illness… when I overshare about almost committing suicide?
You better believe that people are not as appreciative.
And look, I get it. I used to be someone who all but gagged when people posted on social media about depression and anxiety. And even though I’ve matured a lot since then, I still believe there is definitely a wrong way to post about mental health, or about your struggles, and I don’t condone such posts.
But even when I try to be cautious and write blog posts or social media statuses that are intended to be informative, challenging, or encouraging (i.e. they have a point), I know that there are still people out there, some of whom I love dearly, who believe that it’s too much.
So why do I “overshare” about my experiences with suicidality and mental illness?
Before I answer that, I just want to put something to bed. If anyone out there believes that I do it for ‘likes’, for attention, or for popularity, let me just say that I would have to be an idiot to believe that posting about my weaknesses and topics that no one is comfortable talking about would make me popular.
Yes, I want to be liked (most people do). But if anything, my being so honest and open about these things has decreased my cred and popularity with more people than it has ever gained me favour with others.
That’s okay, though. Like I said, I get it. I come from a family of people who don’t like talking about emotions and/or are scared of emotions, and/or believe that our private lives should be just that – private.
I post relentlessly on social media about mental health and suicidality because, short of standing on the street with a megaphone and screaming out ‘PLEASE STOP HURTING YOURSELF’ or ‘I DON’T WANT YOU TO DIE, PLEASE SPEAK TO ME‘, it’s the best way I can get the message out there to someone who might need to hear it that they are not alone.
Our young people today especially see and hear more information, more voices, more messages, more dark humour, more trauma (thanks to the internet) than any other generation before us. We are basically drowning in the noise of social media posts, and most of them are not conducive to life, health, or peace.
I overshare my voice of hope, of life, of health, of compassion, and of love because someone needs to. 9 times out of 10 my posts may reach no one who really needs to hear my story (or even people who purposefully don’t really want to hear it). But if that 1 time someone who might have believed they were alone in their pain and their suffering now sees that there is someone who understands the pain, darkness, and loneliness that they are feeling… if they now are impacted for the better by something I’ve shared, and can pick up even just a tiny bit of the hope I’m trying to give out, then it is worth it.
When I was hurting, I desperately needed people to stop caring more about dignified quietness than they cared about my life. I needed Christians, especially, who had faced the struggle of suicidal thoughts and spiritual oppression to come forward and share their pain in a mature yet nonetheless open manner.
There is also another reason I share so publicly what I’ve been through. When God has snatched you from the very depths of weakness, darkness, and pain, and has placed you instead on a pedestal carved of life, love, and hope… you cannot help but want to speak about such salvation.
You cannot help but want to share not only how God has showered you with blessing after blessing, how He has reached into every shadow of brokenness with healing and restoration, and how He replaced shame and weakness with love and power, but how He wants to do the same for others.
Personally, I don’t believe ‘teacher’ and ‘pastor’ are incompatible. I have it on good authority that Jesus doesn’t think so either. But if I must, in the eyes of others, trade in ‘dignified academic’ for ‘desperate shepherd’, and ‘intellectually capable teacher’ for ‘passionate seeker of the broken and hurting’, then the Lord has already made that exchange for me.
I will not be quiet about hope, when there are so many who need it.