It can be difficult to talk to someone when we’re feeling down. Some of us go inward rather than seeking help, and those emotions tend to compound on top of one another until further issues develop. Talking to someone is a great way to relieve the stress of a problem, connect with others who are feeling the same, and understand other points of view. The anonymity offered by online chat rooms and therapy groups can help keep your deepest conflicts private. Maybe you don’t want your spouse, parents, or friends to know you’re struggling, and that’s ok. But you might find that you do need help along the way.
In this case, it’s important to find an online support group, chat room, or even an individual therapist for your specific needs. Whether you suffer from a serious condition like depression, or you’re just dealing with a breakup or excess stress, there are chat rooms, groups, and many more resources for just about any problem you can think of.
Let’s take a look at what can happen if you talk to someone online.
Often, we find ourselves limited to the people in our geographic area or our family members and friends. Sometimes, we just can’t find the right amount of empathy or understanding from these groups. Family and friends mean well, but you’ll want to talk to someone who understands the exact conflicts you’re facing. This is where knowing the difference between empathy and sympathy comes in handy.
Empathy is the understanding of a problem in the most intimate way possible by looking at it through someone else’s perspective. It’s infinitely easier to see something through another person’s lenses when you’ve faced the same problem. For example, if you’ve suffered from depression, it’s much easier to empathize with how someone with depression is feeling.
Sympathy is more about being on the outside looking in and feeling sympathetic toward someone because they’re having a tough time. There’s nothing wrong with sympathy, but sometimes, you get tired of the same platitudes and want to talk to someone who actually gets what you’re feeling.
By going online to find someone to talk to, you’re extending that search area. You’re no longer confined to friends and family and people in your general area. The web reaches across the globe, and is home to thousands of chat rooms, support groups, and more.
Some people don’t have any desire to share their pain with close friends and family. Many mental illness victims suffer in the dark, not wanting to “burden” their friends and family. I say “burden” with quotations because it’s important to know that your illness is never a burden, but it’s also ok to want to keep it to yourself.
Using the web instead offers a unique opportunity to pour your heart and soul out to someone while still protecting your anonymity. Most chat rooms don’t require any personal information, and all you have to do is pick a screen name. The information you give out is up to you, but remember to always use caution when giving out personal details online.
Anonymity also can help to break the overall stigma associated with mental health. When we introduce anonymity into the equation, it becomes less about the person or people affected by the condition and more about the condition itself. We’re not focusing on who they are, what they look like, etc.
Going online allows you to build a wider support group and feel like you’re part of a community. It can also lead you to local groups and events that might fit your needs. Whether you’re using a chat room, a Facebook group, or speaking to an individual therapist, you’ll feel like you belong somewhere, and that people genuinely care about you and your condition(s).
There are some who suffer from mental illness who are ostracized from their families or friend groups. This can be incredibly isolating and make you feel entirely alone. There is a huge online community out there that can help—you just have to log on.
Mental health is a fickle thing, but if you find yourself suffering, it’s important to utilize any resources at your disposal. If you don’t have access to mental health counseling or other local resources, the web might be your only resource. Some people don’t have insurance or don’t know what programs are available to them. Or, a disability prevents them from being able to drive or get help.
The question of whether or not to use online resources depends on your situation and your preferences. If you can’t (or don’t want to) share personal information with your family and friends, using the web is a good way to retain anonymity, gain true empathy for your condition, and build your own support base.