It’s been a long time since I wrote and published those series of posts where I reflected on where I was in the beginning of 2018 and how much my life had changed for the better by the year’s end. A huge percentage…scratch that, the vast majority of that is credited to me rejoining twitter. But that was told from the perspective of someone who was still very much in a very vulnerable place, even if not as much as when he first started with his current account. I had joined the MH Crisis Angels (which had just started when I joined) a few months prior, so we were still fairly new and still trying to find our way so to speak. I myself was definitely in that transitional place. I had only met my amazing new (at the time) therapist a month prior and was still reluctant at the time to knowing if the first overwhelmingly successful couple of sessions were not a fluke and that I really could trust her without a doubt in my mind.
But the main thing that was definitely true that isn’t so true now, is that I still was not totally believing what I had now which I didn’t have before. The support, the encouragement, the community, everything I desperately wanted more than ever a year earlier, finally realizing then that I never really had it in my life, as much as I wanted to believe I did. So by the time I was writing that “How Twitter Saved My Life” series last January, I may or may not have said in the final part (or in any part) that it finally hit me that I have the community I needed in my life. Like literally believing it when I typed it. I look back and I was still in denial to be honest. I had very much an underlying numbness of any sense of accomplishment. Given that I wasn’t and still am not emotionally numb anymore, hence why I am doing all of this with the Angels and the online mh community in general today, that doesn’t change the fact that it is very hard for me to recognize the positive changes and improvements from life in the past. This was even true just a couple months ago when me and my family moved to a more rural section of Massachusetts in a huge house where I had an entire floor to myself, money in my bank account and being more independent. All of these things that weren’t there just a few months earlier had not fully registered with me. The only thing I noticed in myself is not so much that I was happier. But that I was less angry, less vulnerable and more laid back for the most part. Not always. I still have emotional moments. These past couple weeks have been like that from time to time, even if only for a brief moment, like 20 minutes or something. But by comparison to say…August or September last year, where I was still under the impression that it was a GOOD thing to work in a retail job again, only to find out I was right the whole time to not keep chasing it just because “it’s a job” and nothing more. That last day at that job was one of the most recent moments in my life where PTSD moments were running all over the place. If there was one thing that I had which materialized not so long before that unpleasant moment (which every now and then, like other moments in my life going way further back, still replay in my head time to time), it was joining the Crisis Angels.
I think fast forwarding a year later, I can say with full honesty that it really HAS finally hit me. I can fully, emotionally accept how far things have come not just for me, but for the people I interact with everyday, whether on the Angels team or even more importantly, the service users who reach out to us. Particularly ones who have known us for a long time and never hesitate to chat with us whenever they need to. Last week marked the anniversary of when the MH Crisis Angels first launched on twitter. Remembering what it was like for us then, with absolutely no idea of where this was gonna go, if it was to go anywhere at all, to now where it has been proven a huge success as an important asset to people who are struggling internally and only need someone to validate their feelings. Not just nod, write down notes and hand them a pill bottle. Oh. And the big advantage being we all know and live the experience ourselves so we relate already to an extent. But as a sense of community, what really made me realize how much better and bigger things are now, is that we have been recently receiving exclusive unsold (as of now anyway) merchandise (for the lack of a better word as I just said it’s not for sale) in the form of wristbands, badges and business cards with the #MHCrisisAngels logo on them, to wear with pride wherever we are in the real world. The header image for this post shows a picture I took of these three things I received in the mail last week from our founder MySimpleMind .
The fact it has gotten to the point now where many of us are comfortable giving our mailing address to people on social media we technically have never met in person still, says a LOT. And it is what has made me realize…this is very real. This IS the community I didn’t have before. This IS the environment I never thought existed, where people understand and relate to the experience I had and help me realize, along with my therapist of course, that I am not and was never in the wrong. Having access to videos and podcasts from people I talk to on here everyday, and now physical representations of our team I can wear everywhere I go, has officially validated my right to feel like I have entered a new, brighter and better future for people in our position. That it isn’t just me thinking it, but showing right in front of me that something life changing for many really IS taking place. Even if its primary platform is the internet and social media.