A. I love you.
Here’s my deep, dark secret: I’ve had Twitter since 2014.
“But Valarie,” you say*. “I have spent a great deal of time on your Twitter profile and therefore know that your Twitter profile says you joined December 2018, you filthy fucking liar.”
* No one has ever said this, nor will they ever.
I know — but this is my second account. *audible gasps*
Don’t worry — you get the real me, I promise. And no, I don’t say that to all the girls.
My other account is my authorial pen name, because I do still harbor this vague perception of myself as a writer despite the fact that I write about 3,000 words of fiction each year and never publish them. That account had very little engagement from anyone that I didn’t already know in real life, and built up to about 250 followers in five years. Not bad for a useless account, right?
Contrast that with over 1,000 followers (!) from you all in just over three months, actual engagement (you like my Tweets? Why?), and people I would actually call my friends. Seriously, people on Old Twitter kept talking about their amazing groups of Twitter friends and I’m like, where the hell are you finding these people and what am I doing wrong?
Turns out I just needed to hang out in the right space. And once I did, I found some of the most honest and caring people I’ll ever have the pleasure of knowing.
I promise this post isn’t just to fellate my Twitter friends (although if you’d like to take it as such, please accept the digital and platonic fellatio). I have a point.
B. But why are you all so amazing?
On the stupidly hilarious* podcast “Two Girls, Zero Fucks”, hosts Anneli Roberts and Ida Väisänen shared an article from The New York Times: The 36 Questions That Lead to Love.
* I say this with all the love in the world; I fully recommend this podcast. If you’re ever lonely and wishing you just had a girl group to chill with, put on this podcast and pretend you’re cool enough to be friends with Anneli and Ida. Is it sad to turn to podcasts to pretend you have friends IRL? Maybe, but do it anyway.
The article suggests that intimacy between two people comes from revealing personal information about yourself — progressively more personal as time goes on — and therefore presents 36 questions that should have you kissing tenderly before the night is over.
I don’t think it worked for Anneli and Ida (we’ll see when they meet up at the comedy special later this year). However, the point remains — being open and honest with a person makes you feel more connected to them.
And what is more open and honest than sharing your mental health struggles, your triggering urges, your highs and lows, with a community built on respect? A community that will fight for your right to have those highs and lows, and is only a message away when you’re down? Our vulnerability draws us closer together and creates instant friends — friends that understand our struggle.
C. Why isn’t everyone like that?
Good fucking question. In a perfect world, we’d ask each other how are you? and mean it.
Are you familiar with Humans of New York? In a perfect world, it wouldn’t take a photographer to get to those deep questions. We could sit next to a stranger on a bus and talk things out — maybe get a free therapy session out of it. And by making ourselves vulnerable, we would create instant friends.
In a perfect world, stigma wouldn’t hold us back. Mental illness would be a common topic. We’d be taught what it is in our schools, how to build support systems and self-care to strengthen our emotional state early on, what to say to our emotionally vulnerable friends.
The mental health community on Twitter is what the world should look like. There are still fights and drama — it’s not that kind of perfect.
But it’s open, honest, kind, caring, supportive, vulnerable, emotional, judgment-free. By declaring “I suffer with a mental illness,” we’re allowed to skip talking about the weather and start talking about our struggles, the things that hold us back from our dreams. We can cheer together and cry together.
D. All my love.
I love you, mental health Twitter. I love you if you’re reading this or if you aren’t. I love you if you subscribe to my blog or if you don’t (but maybe a tiny bit more if you do). I love your vulnerability and I love being a part of your conversations.
Let’s make mental health Twitter a plague. Let’s teach the world what to say when we come to them crying, so that we can do it a little more often. Let’s infect the world with our vulnerability and love.
We’re an army. We’re gonna fight ourselves, fight stigma, and fight for each other. And I love you for fighting with me. ❤
My DMs are open if you ever need me.
Originally published at https://valarieward.com on April 4, 2019.