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mental health thoughts 

our community responses to our peers mental health crises range from "not helpful" to "actively damaging" and it's so rare for people to critically analyze it i think because a lot of us go through the same stuff so the assumption is that, having similar experiences, of course we're responding in the best way we can. but actually we're just like, repeating the ways we were /taught/ to respond to mh crises and those ways are Bad

mental health thoughts 

i'm gonna,, talk about this a bit sorry in advance

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list of bad ways to respond to mh shit, 1/? 

ok here's a list of common (shitty) ways people respond to mh stuff and how they actual affect the person in question:

what you say: you aren't bad!! (you aren't broken, you're such a good person, etc)
things they will hear:
-i've tricked you into thinking i'm good, making me worse
-so there's no reason for me to be feeling this bad stuff??
-you aren't listening to me (i just explained how i did bad stuff)

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list of bad ways to respond to mh shit, 2/? 

what you say: it really does get better! i went through this too
what they hear:
-other nd ppl have a chance to heal but not me
-all this stuff i'm going through right now doesn't matter??
-i'm only worth something once i'm better

what you say: i'm worried about you
what they hear:
-oh god i made them upset now i have to make them feel better
-they don't respect my agency as an adult

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list of bad ways to respond to mh shit, 3/? 

what you say: have you tried [x]
what they hear:
-oh god this is my fault if only i did that stuff i wouldn't be feeling this
-they're assuming i haven't tried that already??
-they just want to feel good about helping

what you say: you're not alone/other people go through this
what they hear:
-they're not speaking from personal experience or backing this up so it's not very believable
-other peoppe manage this and i can't

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responding to mh shit, 4/? 

the core problems with more or less all of these responses are the following:
-they do not actually validate the person's emotions
-they assume the person is right now actively trying/wanting to get better, instead of Venting (an incredibly important mh care thing)
-they assume they know better than the person who is literally talking about their own brain and experiences lol
-they often put pressure on the person to convince the advice giver their advice helped

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(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 5/? 

first!! don't fucking try and figure that shit out on ur own homie?? /talk/ with ur community and directly to people u support about what makes them /personally/ feel better. get their consent to do stuff for them. learn what types of responses are triggering or aggravating 2 them. there is no one size fits all answer everyone has different comforts and needs

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(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 6/? 

that being said, there's some responses that /seem/, in my personal experience, to be generally better received.

one: literally just confirm you're listening. use whatever tools available for the type of interaction (faving, saying mmhmm, whatever) to just remind them you're paying attention

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(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 7/? 

two: confirm their emotions. "that fucking sucks ass" "god i can't imagine how difficult that must be" "that was a super fucked up thing that happened to you". legit just reassure them that you believe them and their experiences

three: *if* you have had a similar experience, discuss that as appropriate. don't talk over them or give them unsolicited advice, but it is very good to be reassured ur not alone/being ridiculous.

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(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 8/? 

four: be honest about when you're not available. a) if you try to be emotionally available all the time you'll burn out and end up ghosting them which is 80000x worse. and b) if they suspect they're taking advantage of ur time they may stop engaging with you out of fear of a.

five: if u have the resources and opportunity, and they've indicated it's ok, do shit for them even when they're not going through a crisis. send them stuff and (cont)

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(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 9/? 

say "this made me think of you". bring them some food. take their trash out when you leave their house. send them a card. text them and say "no pressure to text me back just wanted to remind you that you're cool!!" like. cater it to the person obviously?? many of these things might make individual ppl uncomfortable. but figure out what makes them feel relieved, feel loved, etc. and see if it's ok to do it for them once in a while?

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(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 10/10 

ok that's. what i wanted to say. there's definitely An Unfathomable amount more that could be discussed on this topic but like. yeah let's open it up?? let's fucking talk about it. tell people what actually makes u feel better. don't dismiss ur friends angsty/reluctant responses to your advice as "the mood they're in". you might actually be being harmful. just?? idk. think about it more i guess

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re: mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy im here for it

i have thoughts and they p much line up w ur op

re: mental health thoughts 

@velexiraptor yes literally every time you don't put up with someone trying to comfort you in an invalidating way or call ppl out on their treatment of mental health crises i like, levitate with energy lol. like not to idk... tokenize a very personal, difficult thing you do but fucking No One wants to analyze that we do mh sympathy Wrong and you're not here for it which is like. a huge relief to see honestly

re: mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy tbh just knowing that im not alone in this and that other ppl know its bullshit helps a lot, like, im glad im not the only one it doesnt work for

mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy *wiggles in seat excitedly* Please do, this sounds like a Very good topic and it's not something we've thought about much but it sounds right to us

(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 7/? 

@myconidiosyncrasy honestly i also just, don't bother replying to people's mh posts unless i'm actually friends with them

(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 10/10 

@myconidiosyncrasy Thank you so, SO much for this entire thread.

...we've done far too many of the bad ones and not nearly enough of the good ones. This is all /really/ good to know.

(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 10/10 

@IceWolf we all do tho. that's sort of why this is such a difficult thing?? most of us suffer from mh stuff, so we never stop to analyze whether our help will actually be helpful to people in similar situations?? we don't voice the tiny discomforts we get from receiving the wrong sort of advice because "hey at least they care". this is something everyone's guilty of And everyone can benefit from improving

(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 10/10 

@myconidiosyncrasy I dunno if to say... might be controversial ^^; but...

"Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem" is the worst cliche! And it ignores that people are often worn down by permanent problems, especially health problems (both mental and physical) that have no cure. And even 'temporary' problems can eat years or decades of a lifetime, so it feels inescapable. So it's kinda a slap in the face. ^^;

(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 10/10 

@bentosmile you're absolutely correcr the entire way nt people (and plenty of nd ppl) discuss and approach suicide is a fucking joke and everything about it top to bottom makes me furious

(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 10/10 

@myconidiosyncrasy Thank you for this! I think you've done a great job of both pointing out what sucks, and what often helps. I think that remembering that you have the opportunity to have a real conversation and connection with a person, not an opportunity to practice being an advice columnist is a big deal.

(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 10/10 

@myconidiosyncrasy thank you a million times for taking the time to write this, I have kind of piss poor intuition about how to approach being supportive well and this was incredibly helpful.

(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 10/10 

@myconidiosyncrasy can I like, send this in blog post form to my past self? Cuz this is like every single thing I didn’t understand about how to be there for people going though these experiences despite not having gone through them myself.

(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 6/? 

@myconidiosyncrasy yeah, that's generally what makes me feel a little better when i'm upset. just being noticed and heard is very important when it feels like you're insignificant and drowning

i don't really want people to solve my problems, i'm already trying to do that and have more experience at what helps me than they do, but i do want to know that my emotions are valid and the pain i'm feeling is real

(some better ways of) responding to mh shit, 6/? 

@ctrlaltdog fuck yeah exactly?? something something "people want to fix shit instead of living with discomfort" and how that hugely, damages our relationships to ppl we know who are fucking struggling

re: responding to mh shit, 4/? 

@myconidiosyncrasy
> -they assume the person is right now actively trying/wanting to get better, instead of Venting (an incredibly important mh care thing)
-they assume they know better than the person who is literally talking about their own brain and experiences lol

YES YES YES YES YES YES YESE YES

I feel really, really fucking shitty a lot of the time because it's been 8 years and I've guided people through transition and still haven't transitioned myself. Almost everyone responds to this with "You're going to feel better after transitioning!" or "Don't worry you can get there". And it ALWAYS feels like they only value who I am after transitioning. Like I'm only worth a shit if I've transitioned.

re: responding to mh shit, 4/? 

@alexandria yeah the trans community has a huge problem with Completely fucking ignoring everyone who has not already/is not currently socially AND medically transitioning lmao . it sucks and i'm sorry

re: responding to mh shit, 4/? 

@myconidiosyncrasy ugh tell me about it. I left twitter because everyone assumed that trans accounts automagically get 1k followers or whatever (Actually it's more of like a wider "trans clique" thing that really fucking pisses me off). There's like a whole underclass of trans people on there that are just unnoticed because they don't post selfies 24/7 and haven't transitioned and everyone ignores anyone that points it out.

re: responding to mh shit, 4/? 

@myconidiosyncrasy
one thing i've noticed is that people sometimes have a habit of assuming like, "the reason you're talking to me about this is because i'm supposed to find a way to fix it" and just jump in before asking if it's okay to/the person wants that

i think it's important to examine our behaviour and why we act the way we do, especially in sensitive situations like these, but that definitely takes work

list of bad ways to respond to mh shit, 2/? 

@myconidiosyncrasy@redroo.ml "i'm worried about you" "you and me the fuck both" "{nothing happens}" .... 🤦‍♂️

mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy oh my take is super different on why we do this :yeenthink:

I think a lot of folks *know* their responses are woefully inadequate or suspect they could be making things worse

But we also know that person in crisis doesn't have any other support they can count on so we feel obligated to say...something, anything, rather than saying nothing

I've personally struggled with saying no to queers in trouble, even after working in MH, kinda for that reason :x

mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean my point is that like, we know what we want to hear when we're hurt?? we know what things marginally help, what things don't etc. why not use that?? even better why not talk to other people /directly/ about their feelings on it?? "saying anything's better than nothing" that's not always true but even when it is, why settle for something?? we have the power to learn what things help, or at the very least how to avoid being more harmful

mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy @yeenbean I think the main issue here is that it’s hard to help someone you don’t know personally and hasn’t told you what they need specifically but there’s an inclination to try to help anyway. And I don’t super blame people for not knowing what to say but still trying to help. I mean this is probably why some people put “do not interact” on their sad posts, or ask people for a specific kind of reassurance

mental health thoughts 

@FirstProgenitor @myconidiosyncrasy what Mika said tbh

I also think the idea that "we know what will help" is very wrong for someone going through a panic attack or other kinds of mental health crises, especially if they haven't experienced them before or nothing has helped in the past

It's a scary situation to be put into, and it can take you completely off-guard

I do think we should try to learn, but I don't fault someone for attempting when they're put on the spot

1/2 re: mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean @FirstProgenitor you're right, i think by "we know what will help" what i was actually trying to say "a large portion of what we are currently doing is unhelpful but we have access to the tools to improve". and i think possibly you two are discussing a slightly different issue than me. it is /impossible/ to know how to respond exactly right and it's very situation based, and yes "how to respond to people you don't know very well" is a huge issue (cont)

2/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean @FirstProgenitor but my point is, many of the ways we respond to ppl in crisis right now are actively unhelpful. like there's no hack to know The Perfect thing to say, but understanding how specific types of responses are unhelpful or outright harmful is a worthwhile pursuit that will improve our support for both people we don't know super well /and/ people we do. I don't wanna discourage people from reaching out to others at all, but me and lots of (cont)

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean @FirstProgenitor other nd ppl i know are Really uncomfortable with many of the current ways people respond. i didn't mean to sound like i was saying "we can fix how we help people we don't know" cause obviously that's impossible. but it is absolutely a worthwhile and very plausible goal to /improve/ how we help people in general (part of which is acknowledging everyone has different needs, u can't always know). and that was like. my point more ig

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy yeah; those parts of the thread I liked and boosted

My main issue is that I don't think you can actually take for granted that folks have the capacity or resources to learn how to do this better, and that many folks lack the capacity and resources to express what is helpful/harmful

I think what I'd like to see is folks learning better basics for de-escalation and/or learning how to decline doing this labor they can't or don't want to do (cnt'd)

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy and what I want most is the destigmatization of mental health issues as well as a removal of the institutional structures that disproportionately place trauma and mental illness on marginalized queer folks

...while simultaneously separating them from care and support networks so we don't have to MacGyver peer to peer treatment quite so much

(obviously taking care of each other will always be part of it)

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy One more thought:

A lot of queer folk are put into situations where they're asked to do labor they don't want to do, don't know how to do, or is even retraumatizing for them where they believe (sometimes accurately) if they can't provide it this stranger, friend, or partner might not make it

I think that scenario is more common than we as a community tend to talk about, and is part of why I commented the way I did

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean this is very true and a completely fair response

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean @myconidiosyncrasy this so much!

Like, I get the point of the op but as I've read the thread I couldn't stop thinking about this.

It is, nevertheless, a discussion worth having, so thanks for that!

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean hmmmm.... like again, i don't think any of this is wrong? and i'm not saying "this specific type of response is the only way to heal our community" at all. i'm very specifically talking about the situation where a person /chooses/ to reach out and help another person, and how a lot of the commonplace ways we do that are hurtful. i'm not trying to speak on who is obligated to help who, but trying to point out things that a person /choosing/ to help (cont)

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean might want to avoid. like if ur discomfort is "posts like this make people feel obligated to reach out and aid in ways they aren't prepared for" i can see that critique, but i very much think it's important to discuss regardless. we can talk about the damage of over extending emotional labor, definitely in tandem with the topic of helping, but it's a reality that people want to help others, that people need help, and that it's good to discuss what (cont)

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean can actually help/ways to learn what actually helps. i can understand how it would make people uncomfortable to not have that topic /prefaced/ with "help is never an obligation and you are never guaranteed to actually help", just because our communities right heavily rely on community based support that is not always healthy or sustainable. but i also don't think simply discussing it implies help Is an obligation and you can Definitely help

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean if that makes sense

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy I didn't realize your thread was specifically about responding to like, Mastodon posts

That's a different dynamic where my feeling is very much don't reply to strangers MH posts 🤷

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean it's not? it's about most sorts of situations where you choose to respond to someone (presumably someone you are acquainted with and care for) who is expressing to you or at least, near you, that they are going through a hard time. like, these interactions happen to most people, and /if/ you are choosing to engage with it, it's good to consider helpful and unhelpful ways to engage?

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy my point was to explain why in situations where a person has been reached out to individually they provide aid that is not helpful, even if they know better, instead of better care or setting a boundary and declining

I think it's good for folks to prepare for those encounters which is why I boosted parts of your post, but I think compassion is necessary for both folks involved in those hypotheticals as they're often both traumatized

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy we can learn to do better as individuals but the issue shouldn't be individualized

3/3 re: mental health thoughts 

@yeenbean ah, i gotchu

mental health thoughts 

@yuki yeah if i make a public post i realize i don't want boosted i usually delete or delete and redraft with dif privacy settings

mental health thoughts 

@myconidiosyncrasy
thanks! You're wise, I've seen lots of people who post public and forgot they didn't want their stuff boosted. :blobfacepalm:

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