Welcome to Geeks Vs Loneliness, our spot on the site where we chat about things that may be affecting you, or people you know. No miracle cures are offered, just the chance to stop for a few minutes, pour yourself a virtual/real cuppa, and see if anything we have to offer helps. This week, we’re handing over to the brilliant Sarah, who wants to chat about attention seeking…
It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I couldn’t get the shell off a hardboiled egg.
That’s all it was – so simple and so silly, and yet my temper flared. The egg was crushed in my hand, I kicked the kitchen door, swore at the sink, and smacked myself in the head three times. All because I couldn’t get the shell off a damned egg.
My growing list of problems, building emotions, bubbling anger, and loneliness exploded. I sobbed and self harmed. I reached out to people on social media, and got one message almost immediately.
Time to log out of social media for a few days. It’s not the first time I have been called this, nor will it be the last. But each time I receive that message I die a little inside as I take the time to question if it’s true and realise that, to some degree, it is.
But isn’t that the point? It is something that bothers me every time I see a post or a hashtag on social media aimed at breaking the stigma of mental health and suicide. Trends like ‘Time to Talk’ or ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ are all well meaning, but the reality for many of us is heartbreaking and scary.
Imagine you are on Facebook and share a nice post. The image attached to the post depicts a girl sat in the corner of a room, on the floor, crying. The message reads “I care about you. If you ever need to talk, you know where I am. Let me know if you are struggling. I am here for you, any time. I am your friend.”
Moments later you read a Facebook post by an old school friend who is talking about how bad her life is. Again. I mean, she posts that stuff every single day. ‘We get it – you are miserable. Stop begging for attention on Facebook and get over it’.
Where is the promise of ‘I am here for you, any time’? Where is the proof that ‘I am your friend’?
Where it is is buried in the fact that the post was shared to make you look or feel good. What you are failing to see is that that ‘attention seeker’ is reaching out. You just promised to help people who are struggling – so why are you not helping?
Maybe Twitter is more your thing. Another ‘change my mind’ meme makes you laugh, new band merch makes you excited for a tour, and hooray – new trailer for the film you’ve waited a year for. Tweet after tweet scrolls up your phone screen, until you see that one that stops you in your tracks.
Someone you followed has died. They took their own life. You can’t believe it. You both followed each other and you considered yourselves friends. Why did he not reach out to you? I mean, sure – he Tweeted about wanting to die many times. He could be dramatic when he wanted to be. But how were you to know? It was never serious… was it? You join in with fellow Twitter users and make a Tweet with an ‘RIP’ hashtag.
Again, you fail to see that he was reaching out with his Tweets. It was serious enough for him, but you continued to scroll past his ‘attention seeking’ as you awaited the latest celebrity news.
Their attention seeking – my attention seeking – is us reaching out. Sometimes we don’t know who to turn to, or how to start the conversation. We don’t want to burden you, and we fear the rejection that often follows a ‘talk to me’ offer.
I am forever being told to reach out to people when I am in need, but most of the time there is nobody there, and it breaks me. I am left shouting into the void, hoping someone hears and reaches out to me.
Here is the big secret you need to know: you – and it’s a general you! – are not obliged to fix us. But if you are not prepared to even be there to help us or hear us out, do not offer yourself forward to us. Being denied the support we were offered in good faith can be dangerous.
Either make yourself available to us or don’t. It is cool, whatever you choose. But don’t say one thing and do another. It’s devastating.
People seek attention when it is needed, often through desperation. Maybe bear that in mind.
I only wanted eggs with my dinner.
Stay brilliant, and thanks – as always – for reading…