Moodsurfing continues to monitor developments in the field of online help for mood disorders and mental health generally, we have looked at several newly available resources here and here. Of course, there are negatives as well, but overall, we are observing a trend of more and more useful and useable online programs and communities.
Here, we share a reader’s recommendation about Reddit, and its communities, called “subreddits”. Reddit is a site where people post about their own interests and concerns and others can comment or respond. The site claims 138,000 active communities, of which two are reviewed below:
When I was first diagnosed, and ever since actually, the idea of going to a support group has been unappealing to me – too embarrassing, too much of an effort, too inconvenient – given my ever-changing moods. What if I’m afraid of people that day? What if I’m a recluse that day? What if I’m too manic and won’t shut up that day and monopolize the entire room? No, support groups are definitely not my thing. Until I found Reddit, specifically the sub reddits for both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (r/bipolar and r/schizophrenia respectively).
The sense of community with the comfort of anonymity
The best thing about these reddit communities for me has been belonging to a community without having to be known. Given that I frequently feel paranoid and/or frightened of people, it is comfortable for me to participate anonymously, as all members are required (for safety reasons) to do. These reddit communities are immediately inclusive and tight, very loving and feel very safe. Newly diagnosed people are welcomed like they’ve just entered an exclusive and cool secret society and those having a bad day are bombarded with positive thoughts and cyber hugs from fellow sufferers. And you don’t have to leave your house to feel the love.
Safety in Numbers
Both the bipolar and schizophrenia subreddits on Reddit.com offer a support group community that is available 24/7 and is both self-moderated by the community and by a moderator to make sure posters are being safe and respectful. Each have rules, like refraining from giving diagnoses or medical advice, for example, and other things that make the group operate effectively. r/bipolar boasts over 17 thousand members and r/schizophrenia has over 60 thousand, so the first great benefit is accessibility and numbers. When you need the group, they are there, even at 2AM, and when you seek information, you are getting the benefit of thousands of experiences instead of that of just a few people.
How it works
People post questions or comments directed at the forum, and the community chimes in with thoughts, advice and wisdom, in mostly humorous and loving, but always helpful ways. Both r/bipolar and r/schizophrenia have greatly helped me understand my symptoms better as I’ve read about people and their various experiences dealing with the disorders. You can post questions if you’d like to, or just be a lurker and read and learn from others. You can ask for support on the days when you are barely coping and you’ll receive an outpouring, or you can offer it on the days when you are feeling able to give.
As an aside, if you are a relative, friend, coworker, boss, etc of a person suffering from mental illness or if you think you might be sick with a mental illness, these forums, plus r/mentalillness, are helpful places to get feedback on how to proceed. Sometimes medical professionals frequent r/mentalillness to answer questions and give advice, but unless they identify as such, please remember that these communities are primarily for peer support, not medical advice.