I was really shocked when I saw this tweet coming from someone who supposedly aims fight the stigma around self-harm:
I responded by asking how the tweeter knows that the tweet s/he quoted wasn’t the only source of outlet for someone in genuine pain. Minutes later, I was blocked. (This followed a long debate between the tweeter and another person about someone’s possible motives for posting something like that, and about “attention-seeker-shaming”: pros and cons).
In 100% honesty, I have to say that in the past I have sympathised with the tweeter above. When you are struggling day-to-day with the reality of mental ill health and it seems that someone else is “showing theirs off” it can be hard to understand that the person seeming to seek attention may also be in genuine pain. As a person who has spent a large amount of her life on mental-health-type websites, my reactions are also influenced by the distress/ annoyance/ worry/ confusion caused by someone posting what seems to be a goodbye note. If you never hear from that person again, chances are you will never know what happened to them… and that does make such a post seem selfish. So yes, tweeter, I do get where you’re coming from.
Of course to flip-side that, I can wholeheartedly say that I have been the “attention-seeker” in question. Probably that’s why “attention-seeking” annoyed me so much in the past- it hurts to see yourself reflected in someone else’s behaviour.
As I have grown and mellowed, I have come to realise that you can’t take another person’s pain lightly on the basis that you think they may be attention-seeking! You have to wonder anyway, if someone will go to such levels as self-harm/ suicidal threats “just” to get attention, they must really need attention! And I mean that in all seriousness- nobody behaves that way without a reason. Unless we are there to listen to that reason, we will never know. Until we have, we must not judge.
When I wrote this I was probably screaming for attention on some level. I didn’t have many friends in the blogosphere back then but I probably wanted somebody- anybody- to understand what I was getting at. Yet I was in genuine, unwavering distress. (Funny enough, someone read that post the other day, according to my stats- hence my bringing it up now).
So yes, it may seem selfish to post something like the unnamed person above. It may seem immature. It may even be annoying to some people. But that gives nobody the right to sift between problems and decide whose are real and whose aren’t, based solely on whether or not, or how, that person decided to express them.