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Thread: feeling helpless

  1. #1

    Default feeling helpless

    The following post was adjusted from one I made (too) early this morning on another online community. I've changed it some for this forum, but the essence is the same.

    I'm lying on my couch at going-on-3AM on a Monday morning because I can't even think about going to sleep. Not now. Not with what is whirling around in my mind. Half an hour ago I read the post from the spouse of an admin on another site: she wanted to know "what the fuck" had been going on, because her wife had just tried to kill herself. I tried to respond to it as well as I could, since I may be the only one awake at this ridiculous hour and if I were her I'd want a response ASAP, but I'm not at all the one best equipped for that job, having only been a member of this site for a couple of months. Others, I'm sure, will add their thoughts later. But I'm lying here stuck with her frustration and her wife's pain in my head, and to that I have added something of my own: helplessness.


    We participate in these online "communities," right? From them, we take what we need: entertainment (stories), conversation, maybe a dash of cyber friendship. If it is a support community, like this one, we also take whatever support and advice we can glean from the other members who are, of course, here to seek the same from us. But what and how much can a community like this one, or especially like the one I'm talking about––a forum that exists to provide a place to publish and critique stories––really act like a real community? I mean I was pulled back from the brink of suicide's door once by someone I knew from church. Not someone I knew well, just someone who wondered why I seemed down lately and had missed a meeting of a group she knew I enjoyed, so she reached out to me at the exact right moment. IRL. How do we, how can we, do that here except in rare cases when we have established RL connections with each other? I ask that question without knowing the answer. So you'll have to tell me: how much do we pay attention to each other? We "friend" each other, but honestly, what does that even mean? Other then that initial moment of contact, does it really mean anything to be someone's forum "friend"?
    When I speak of being a community, I don't mean the obvious things like treating each other with respect; that's a given. I know I've seen people jump into action when members have real issues, reaching out to help them in every way imaginable. That's a wonderful part of what this community is. We are all trying to find ways to advise and help each other handle the issues we face each day. But the problem comes when the trouble is serious. I've seen it here several times: suddenly someone is in serious trouble, posting something that smacks of finality, and really: what can we do? Unless we know the member personally, offline, all we can do is post something and hope that the "final" post isn't really a final post, that the threat of suicide is merely a threat, that the member is still reading and somehow you can get through. As a teacher, I knew what to do and handled such things quickly many times. But this is territory I don't understand, and still some inner voice is telling me that by sharing this space with all of you I should be aware, I should be conscious of such things should they pop up, even if they pop up between the lines. Hell, I'm an intuitive person; I should see these things. I should not need a map: I should be able to sense when something is wrong before it comes to a crisis.


    But it's after 3 now and I lie here helpless. The post indicated that the admin will be fine, but what if she had not been? I don't know her; we've exchanged PMs maybe three times. But I know she does a hell of a lot for that community, and I know she's a human being, and I know she certainly deserves more than to let that forum be the thing that drives her out of this world, especially if members of the forum don't even realize it's happening.

    I'm rambling, I know. And maybe I'm wrong: maybe it's not even possible to tell from someone's posts what their emotional state is if they don't discuss that issue. I just know what I told her wife: I sensed that something was amiss but didn't know her well enough to know if I was imagining it or not, so I didn't PM her about it. Now I'm wondering what would have happened if I had. Maybe that's what is keeping me awake. Maybe that's why I feel so helpless. Maybe ultimately we're all helpless to really be there for someone we only know online. But in a world where too often the best "friends" we have are online, I'm not sure I can live with that: I'm way too other-oriented for that. But what can​ we do? I don't know what the answer is...but I'm asking the question.

  2. #2
    MarchinBunny

    Default

    My thoughts on suicide are this, and this is probably from my own personal experiences on the matter with, well let's face it my constant suicidal thoughts that seem to occur.
    When I post about it, I am not beyond saving. When someone posts about suicide, I actually believe that is a bit of a way to sabotage oneself from actually doing so. They want to be convinced not to do it. In fact, I actually think online forums, chats, and helplines typically work better than actually know the person in real life.

    I know all the people in my day to day life ... I have not told any of them that I have suicidal thoughts constantly. If I didn't have this forum, I probably wouldn't be alive to be perfectly honest, or if I was still alive I certainly would be in a much worse place than I am now.

    Now, times where I don't want to be convinced, I don't post here what I am thinking about doing. I just stop coming. I disappear. Those are the times where I am just at a hands grasp of swallowing a handful of pills.

    I do think it's pretty much impossible to know how someone is feeling just through a forum unless they specifically say something. That is where it can become real tough, especially because there are some cases where some people will not say anything at all. In fact, I used to be exactly like that till recently, where now my emotions as of late have just gone so out of control that I can't help but talk. Again, if I didn't have this place ... I really can't imagine I would be alive.

    All we can do is go day by day and hope the friends we have, online or not, work up the courage to speak and communicate with us or someone else on how they are feeling.

  3. #3

    Default

    I'm not sure I have a complete answer, but perhaps some helpful if scattered thoughts.

    I was pulled back from the brink of suicide by online friends. To put it bluntly, no one in my RL cared enough to notice that I was suicidally depressed. (And no, I'm not being emo about that -- I actually told my mother on numerous occasions that I was suicidal, and why, and her response was "stop saying that" and then she'd decide I was perfectly happy. The message was clear enough: not my problem, don't wanna hear it. I could go on with further examples but you get the point.) It can certainly be done. I've also pulled someone back from the brink -- they posted something about leaving the forum for good and PM her for contact info if you want it... red flag... so I asked her what was up, and after some discussion it came out that she was really thinking of leaving the planet, not just the forum. I just happened to come upon her at the right time.

    On the other hand, a friend of mine is presently watching her lifelong best friend disintegrate in front of her eyes IRL, and has been for years, and despite being right there physically she can do nothing. Said friend-of-my-friend, we'll call her H, suffered major psychological trauma when her mother died from cancer. Her death wasn't unexpected by any means, but H couldn't take it and kind of snapped. Her whole personality changed, she married a controlling loser she'd just met, and became a serious alcoholic. Several psychotic breaks and at least half a dozen suicide attempts later, my friend is still stuck watching the train wreck happen in slow motion. She walks on eggshells so that H doesn't cut off contact completely.

    So I guess my answer to your question is that I'm not sure if being "only online" makes as much of a difference as is usually thought. It's the person who puts up the barriers or withdraws; I don't know to what extent the relative anonymity and etc of the internet facilitate that to happen more. But I think the helpless feeling is more attributable to the nature of these sorts of problems, and the emotional distance people suffering this way tend to generate, than it is to the physical distance between 'net friends.

  4. #4

    Default

    What we can do? We can do little and a lot. As you pointed out there is no way to reach out to people like IRL. There is also only little basis upon we can tell if someone has horrible issues to deal with. Then again, we can do a lot. If I'd see someone on FB or some other plattform talking openly about suicide thoughts I wouldn't hesitate to inform the competent authorities (e.g. police where I live). The police will be able to super-fast track the users' IP adress and thus hopefully prevent a tragedy.
    I've read a few suicide announcements / hints here and I don't know whether there is a forum policy on how to handle with such users.

  5. #5

    Default

    You have a good point, Sapphyre. I had not thought of that, but now that you mention it I recall several instances of students telling me of friends who were on the edge and how they too felt helpless because they feared losing their friendships if they acted. Of course, I always told them that their friends' lives were more important than their friendships and that eventually their friends would see that what they did was the best act of friendship and kindness possible, but at that age it's so hard. Maybe sometimes real life is an even bigger problem than anonymity.

  6. #6

    Default

    Well if it's only online I really don't know how far we can go.
    I haven't been sharing about my problems online for Long but letting out and talking about struggles I might have helps relieve a lot of tension/stress. It had genuinely stopped me from doing impulsive or stupid things few times.

    But I had my worst bout of depression in high school and from what I remember from that time it was the people who got me through..... The closest of friends and the family. And at the time there was so much going on that I was not involved with anything else, I didn't engage in anything or go online or listen to music, I just didn't do anything....I needed someone and luckily for me I had enough people who cared enough.
    Maybe because of this experience I'm biased to think that in these types of situations you do actually need a real person to talk to then and there to get through emotions. Or maybe my experience is how it actually is for most people....i just don't know. But whatever the case I think we should just help however we can. It may be the smallest help but it's better than nothing. But I just can't think of how one would go further than that especially online.

  7. #7

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by MarchinBunny View Post
    .

    I know all the people in my day to day life ... I have not told any of them that I have suicidal thoughts constantly. If I didn't have this forum, I probably wouldn't be alive to be perfectly honest, or if I was still alive I certainly would be in a much worse place than I am now.

    Now, times where I don't want to be convinced, I don't post here what I am thinking about doing. I just stop coming. I disappear. Those are the times where I am just at a hands grasp of swallowing a handful of pills.
    I think this is one of the major difficulties in dealing with suicidal people (and believe me: I've dealt with this a lot, not only myself and some students, but my son and his husband for years). You are absolutely right to note that the time to worry the most is when they are not threatening anything. If you are dealing with a depressive personality, you almost have to be ever-vigilant. Reading between the lines is practically a lifelong requirement.

  8. #8

    Default "Is this the real-life... is this just fan-ta-sy... caught in a landslide - no escape from reality..."

    [RANT] And, who-the-hell!? Decided, that this online activity isn't Real-Life/In Real Life (IRL) argh!

    I mean sure, we don't 'know' that we aren't communicating with a droid or, some sort of AI software -
    -Bull-Shit-we don't-know!-

    Perhaps, it's just more convenient to badge our face-to-face experiences, as IRL because, that leaves us, the online or virtual aspects... without liability or, the greater degree of culpability - short-of, we're 'supposed to' play nice...

    If we were hand-writing this and, sending it through the respective postal systems... it would take longer and consume paper, ink and, postage yet; what difference otherwise... is this truly?

    Probably with few exceptions - there's Face-To-Face (FTF), people in our lives; that we know as little about perhaps, less about... than a number of people that we encounter on-line... to such a personal degree because, this sort of anonymity, does provide a much-less, confrontational yet, greater degree of - Intimacy, that we are generally not afforded; in the Face-To-Face encounters... [/RANT]

    As was so eloquently pointed out, in kerry's and, other's accounts... It almost always, takes that one simple gesture - especially, the unexpected, very simple and, often unrelated to the recipients actual plight...

    We're not Ghost-Busters (well, in a way we might be ), we're not the armed forces - you don't need special gear or, basic/advanced training and drills...

    There's a sort of "See something - say something" approach to those in this medium too...

    When you get that little niggling in the back of your mind - that something is amiss... Say something! It need not always be directly to the people that you suspect are having problems... Someone that you believe, knows them better or, is seemingly better equipped to handle something too deep for your readiness... Even if, it fails to reach the one(s) in need - you've at least done something towards attaining some good - The thought counts, when it is acted upon... even if, it's in error...

    Please be certain, that I am not lambasting, criticizing or, blaming here!
    There is no fault now - only, opportunity!

    Spread the word - this is Real Life... even if, it's not Face-To-Face (or, in person)...

    My best to you all and, for now,
    -Marka

  9. #9
    MarchinBunny

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by Marka View Post
    -snip-
    I do agree quite a bit with Marka on the whole real life thing. Actually, it was always something I often never quite understood why anyone would view the social aspect here online as less of a social aspect face to face. I don't consider it less, I just consider it a bit different. It's still real life. There is still a person behind the screen.

    Also, as I pointed out in my post, I specifically find it easier to communicate when it's not face to face. So it being online is what works best for me. I am sure it has to for many people as I can't be the only one who is more comfortable communicating this way.

  10. #10

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by kerry View Post
    The following post was adjusted from one I made (too) early this morning on another online community. I've changed it some for this forum, but the essence is the same.

    I'm lying on my couch at going-on-3AM on a Monday morning because I can't even think about going to sleep. Not now. Not with what is whirling around in my mind. Half an hour ago I read the post from the spouse of an admin on another site: she wanted to know "what the fuck" had been going on, because her wife had just tried to kill herself. I tried to respond to it as well as I could, since I may be the only one awake at this ridiculous hour and if I were her I'd want a response ASAP, but I'm not at all the one best equipped for that job, having only been a member of this site for a couple of months. Others, I'm sure, will add their thoughts later. But I'm lying here stuck with her frustration and her wife's pain in my head, and to that I have added something of my own: helplessness.


    We participate in these online "communities," right? From them, we take what we need: entertainment (stories), conversation, maybe a dash of cyber friendship. If it is a support community, like this one, we also take whatever support and advice we can glean from the other members who are, of course, here to seek the same from us. But what and how much can a community like this one, or especially like the one I'm talking about––a forum that exists to provide a place to publish and critique stories––really act like a real community? I mean I was pulled back from the brink of suicide's door once by someone I knew from church. Not someone I knew well, just someone who wondered why I seemed down lately and had missed a meeting of a group she knew I enjoyed, so she reached out to me at the exact right moment. IRL. How do we, how can we, do that here except in rare cases when we have established RL connections with each other? I ask that question without knowing the answer. So you'll have to tell me: how much do we pay attention to each other? We "friend" each other, but honestly, what does that even mean? Other then that initial moment of contact, does it really mean anything to be someone's forum "friend"?
    When I speak of being a community, I don't mean the obvious things like treating each other with respect; that's a given. I know I've seen people jump into action when members have real issues, reaching out to help them in every way imaginable. That's a wonderful part of what this community is. We are all trying to find ways to advise and help each other handle the issues we face each day. But the problem comes when the trouble is serious. I've seen it here several times: suddenly someone is in serious trouble, posting something that smacks of finality, and really: what can we do? Unless we know the member personally, offline, all we can do is post something and hope that the "final" post isn't really a final post, that the threat of suicide is merely a threat, that the member is still reading and somehow you can get through. As a teacher, I knew what to do and handled such things quickly many times. But this is territory I don't understand, and still some inner voice is telling me that by sharing this space with all of you I should be aware, I should be conscious of such things should they pop up, even if they pop up between the lines. Hell, I'm an intuitive person; I should see these things. I should not need a map: I should be able to sense when something is wrong before it comes to a crisis.


    But it's after 3 now and I lie here helpless. The post indicated that the admin will be fine, but what if she had not been? I don't know her; we've exchanged PMs maybe three times. But I know she does a hell of a lot for that community, and I know she's a human being, and I know she certainly deserves more than to let that forum be the thing that drives her out of this world, especially if members of the forum don't even realize it's happening.

    I'm rambling, I know. And maybe I'm wrong: maybe it's not even possible to tell from someone's posts what their emotional state is if they don't discuss that issue. I just know what I told her wife: I sensed that something was amiss but didn't know her well enough to know if I was imagining it or not, so I didn't PM her about it. Now I'm wondering what would have happened if I had. Maybe that's what is keeping me awake. Maybe that's why I feel so helpless. Maybe ultimately we're all helpless to really be there for someone we only know online. But in a world where too often the best "friends" we have are online, I'm not sure I can live with that: I'm way too other-oriented for that. But what can​ we do? I don't know what the answer is...but I'm asking the question.
    I hear and understand what you are saying Kerry.

    Like Marka said "This is real life". We have an idea of who we are speaking to, even if there is a "vail" that we can not see and or touch the person as if we where in the same room.

    In a situation like this you rely on your life experiences and in some cases training that you have received to deal with or understand "life experiences".

    There has been other threads that this has been a topic or the bases for the discussion.

    Like I said before The first rule is protect/take care of yourself. You offer what help/ advice that you can and I guess it just comes down to "hope for the best".

    There is a point that you can only give the person so much then they have to take the next step and "help themselves" and use the tools/advice that has been given.

    The other thing that comes to mind is "scope of practice". One can only do what one is trained to do. If you step over that line you may be doing more harm then good. (for both you and the person you are helping.

    This is why I have stepped back a few times because I "got to involved" in helping someone to a point of starting a depression spiral of my own. IT is easier to do then you think.

    I am rambling and hope I made my point.

    Egor

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