Mental Health & Social Media – Episode I

The Phantom Facebook User

When I first joined Facebook, I did so under a false name.  I had 3 friends on there and that was it.  Slowly more and more people discovered my pseudonym and friend requested me. People I hadn’t seen for a long time got in touch and it was terrifying.

Part of my mental health problem was that I beat myself up for every mistake I had ever made and having people from my past get in contact renewed those feelings. I couldn’t accept that we all make mistakes and the fear of people bringing those things up was terrifying.  Little did I know at the time that no one else ever really thought about them.

I refused to put any photographs of myself on there.  I’ve always been the person taking the photographs/videos.  I had such severe self-loathing that the thought of people seeing photographs was too much.

Occassionally people would put pictures up that I was in and I would have panic attacks.  It got to the stage where I left Facebook and my pseudonym behind.  I rejoined under my own name some time later, but we’ll leave Facebook there for now. .

In 2009 I thought I would give Twitter a go.  I chose a handle that was something nobody except those people very close to me would know, @gordondon.  By the way, Gordondon was our African Pygmy Hedgehog and named after the introduction to a Loudon Wainwright III song. I still get people thinking my name is Gordon Don.

On Twitter I could do what I enjoyed, talking about films, tv, books and comedy in total anonymity.  I loved it. Nobody had a clue who I was in ‘real life’ and I could exist on there.

After my mental breakdown in 2012, the one that made me realise I needed to seek help, I started CBT and EMDR therapy.  This has helped me deal with issues and was where I was told, “The only thing people are perfect at is being imperfect.” It was a long process (I still have therapy sessions when I need them).

In 2013 my Wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She has always been pragmatic about it and extremely rarely lets it get her down.  She started going to a support group funded by the MS Society and in 2014, as a thank you for their great work,  I signed up for a sponsored zipline to raise funds for them.

I mentioned this on Twitter and somebody tweeted me asking how much I would need to raise for me to do the zipline in the Princess Leia Bikini from Return of the Jedi. I responded £500, never thinking I would ever raise that much.  16 days later the £500 had been raised (it reached £1,000 by the day), so true to my word I ordered the outfit.

As the day got closer I realised something.  I would have to put a photo of myself online to prove I did it.  I had been sponsored by so many people that just sending it directly to them was impossible. I had a massive panic attack.

To be continued…..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.