MIND

Why don’t I have a Facebook Support Group for Depression Sufferers?

One of the foundations of mental health and wellness is connection with other people, so starting a Facebook support group would make sense, wouldn’t it?

 

It’s been proven that you’re more likely to recover from depression if you join a support group.

And you’re also more likely to achieve a goal if you have folks to cheer you on when things get tough.

Online communities can be valuable spaces to get support, motivation & inspiration, especially if there’s nothing where you live, or if you struggle with social anxiety

BUT

I believe that the energetic space the online community occupies matters.

That’s why I’m building my community on Substack and not using a Facebook support group.

Why don't I have a Facebook support group?

 

Experts keep telling me that opening a Facebook support group is the best way to build a community online. 

 

Facebook is easy to access and people are already hanging out there, so it’s convenient for them to drop in. 

Seems like a no brainer.

But every time I’ve thought about it, I’ve ended up choosing not to. 

Something about it just makes me feel blocked and uncomfy. 

Why I’m not a fan of Facebook, Instagram and X/Twitter…

 

I’m not against the concept of social media. In fact, up until 2013, I really enjoyed connecting and chatting with people online.

But today, the energy of social media makes me feel really icky!

Why?

A few reasons – some personal and some in relation to my therapy business.  

First of all – 

  

Social media is designed to be addictive. 

are you addicted to social media

The companies have researched how to make you spend as much time as possible on there.

 

Why?

So they can track your behaviour and gather information about you, your age, gender, where you live, who you live with, your shopping habits, political leanings, whether you have pets, who you admire……

Then they sell this information to businesses and other groups so that you can be bombarded with products and services.

Even political parties are using these kinds of trackers to make sure you see things that encourage you to vote for them, even if they aren’t actually true! It’s just plain manipulative.

 

The more time you spend on social media, the more information you’re giving them and the more ads they can shove in front of you.

 

Facebook actively encourages businesses to use ‘tracking pixels’ so that they can follow you all over the internet and pester you!

Everyone from giant companies down to solo entrepreneurs are doing this. That’s why you visit an online store once and then get ads for it on every site you go to for weeks after.

It’s like having a salesman with his foot in your online door, harassing you to buy.

Something about it feels really slimy.

I don’t use tracking pixels and refuse to have them on my website. 

 

Then there’s the dopamine….

 

When we post on social media and get likes, shares and follows, we get a nice warm fuzzy feeling.

Our brains release a hit of dopamine.

Dopamine is known as the ‘happy hormone’ (it’s actually a neurotransmitter) cos it gives us a pleasant feeling of wellbeing.

Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?

 

So what’s the problem? Isn’t that a good thing?

 

It depends.

Some of us are struggling with low dopamine levels. I have ADHD and autism and it’s believed that both are characterised by low dopamine levels.

Until recently, I had no idea why I’m addicted to chocolate, love ticking things off my to do list, need praise from my partner, and enjoyed getting likes on social media so much!

Then I discovered that it’s probably because each of these things gives me a dopamine boost.

Why does it matter?

 

As an abuse survivor who suffered constant criticism, I have a tendency to seek validation from others. Getting likes on social media was a very easy way for me to to that. It wasn’t difficult to get addicted to it.

“Dopamine release is also responsible for people becoming addicted, in that [people] are always seeking pleasure, so that they can reach higher and higher dopamine levels. Dopamine is the reason why a lot of people are constantly seeking to satisfy their cravings.

-Harald Sitte, of MedUni Vienna’s Institute of Pharmacology, speaking on the occasion of the September 2016 Dopamine Conference at Vienna University.

We need to spend less time on social media and more time doing meaningful things in our ‘real’ lives.

But that doesn’t benefit the social media companies – so they do everything they can, including using psychological manipulation, to make you stay.

More cute kittens anyone?

How often do you lose time wandering down the rabbit hole of social media?

I decided from the beginning that I wanted to build a community that thrives on connection, yes, but also encourages members to get the hell off the internet and go touch grass!

Social media thrives on engagement – comments, likes, shares etc, but it’s not about promoting positivity.

 

The algorithm shows you things that the companies know will provoke an emotional response.

Have you ever wondered why you seem to see loads of posts that you don’t agree with? Posts full of hate speech, racism, sexism, homophobic, transphobic, bullying etc?

It’s because uplifting posts get less traction than controversial, nasty ones.

You’re more likely to respond when you’re fired up with rage!

Think about the last time you felt compelled to respond to someone. Was it because you loved their post, or loathed it? 

How does social media make you feel?

How did you feel?

Good?

I doubt it.

Chances are you felt angry, frustrated, and pissed off and maybe even depressed.

Social media has been proven to contribute to feelings of depression & anxiety.

 

The companies try to persuade us that it’s all about connection and community. And that’s a wonderful thing, right?

But it’s not as happy clappy as they try to make out.

According to a scholarly article published in the Journal of Social and Clinical PsychologyHIGHER LEVELS OF DEPRESSION correlate with Facebook use. The study found the subjects’ mental health suffered with the more time they spent on Facebook, causing users to feel worse about their own positions when they compared their profiles with others.

Another article by medical doctor and cyberpsychologist Igor Pantic ECHOED THE FINDING. He stated that “prolonged use of social networking sites, such as Facebook, may be related to signs and symptoms of depression.” As people compare their lives to so many others, they will only find their mental health continue to deteriorate.

https://online.king.edu/news/psychology-of-social-media/

Not only that, but social media is full of trolls, bullies, baiters & manipulators who can’t wait to torment others.

Despite the potential it has for good, social media has become a toxic cesspit where no-one dares speak from the heart in case they’re attacked.

And that doesn’t create happiness, my friend, it creates stress and anxiety.

Especially if you’re feeling fragile or the bullying spills over into your ‘real’ life.

Be honest – have you ever felt anxious about posting on social media because you’re worried about attracting nasty comments?

 

I certainly have.

Being a witch, and also having weight issues, makes it so much harder to be open about my work for fear I’ll be targetted by people with nothing better to do than create drama online.

People will argue about EVERYTHING & ANYTHING!

Cancel culture is ruining lives and businesses.

 

No one is allowed to make a mistake, apologise, learn from it, and move on anymore.

 

Rude people think nothing of making deeply hurtful comments, damaging their targets’ self esteem and confidence. 

It’s despicable how some people will kick others when they’re down!

So another aim for my community is that people can feel confident sharing their thoughts and feelings.

To heal and thrive, sometimes we have to be vulnerable and honest and the community has to allow members to do that without fear.

A Facebook support group can be infiltrated by people who don’t have your best interests at heart and it can be difficult to prevent them coming in and causing chaos!

I wrote a post about whether it’s a good idea to seek support for mental health issues on social media.

 

And then there are the social media accounts that promote unrealistic expectations about your body, your home, your finances, your love life…….

 

Seeing people online who seem to have perfect lives can create feelings of failure and ‘not enoughness’.

I’ve come across so many people who feel depressed after seeing these types of influencer accounts on Instagram in particular.

They feel inadequate and envious and then hopeless and helpless. None of these feelings invoke happiness!

 

Building a Facebook support group isn’t practical from a business perspective.

 

First of all, members don’t automatically see every post, so they can miss out on things that might be helpful to them.

Secondly, Meta can close a Facebook support group without notice and refuse to re-open it. This happened to a group I’ve been in for YEARS and was one of the only reasons I ever really visited Facebook. The group was branded a ‘security risk’, and no-one knows why.

 

All those gathered resources, informative posts, memories and progress reports – POOF! GONE!!

Many members feel distraught about it and there’s nothing anyone can do.

Thirdly, after seeing how Facebook allowed businesses to build pages for free, only to eventually restrict access unless you paid to boost your posts, I’ve a sneaky feeling that in the future, people will have to pay to host a group.

I want to have as much control as possible over my community, so no-one gets left high and dry! 

No-one can block me from my own group, hijack it, or make it disappear.

 

When I voiced my concerns about the dark side of social media in the Spiritual community, not many people seemed to agree with me.

 

Some comments I got were that I could separate myself from the overall energy and ethos of the social media companies and be the light in the darkness. I tried thinking of it that way, but I still felt the heaviness in my gut when I posted anything.

It feels like by staying active on Facebook, I’m encouraging people to stay there.

That doesn’t really feel good. No dopamine hit there for me!

Now before I go any further, I know that Substack has it’s issues.

Only recently I discovered that white supremacists and neo nazis are using the platform. But I can stay very separate.

None of their posts will see the light of day inside my little space. I can’t say the same for social media.

 

My aim is to get people who are struggling with their mental health OFF of social media and into a community designed to lift people up, not knock them down.

 

I want my Ditch the Black Dog community to be a safe, inclusive space for people to do transformational work together. Work that boosts mental health and wellness.

😊 Without judgement;

🤗 Criticism;

😊 Shaming;

🤗 Bullying; or

😊 Trolling.

I want my online support group to be ethical. No hidden agenda. Not selling your details. No sharing false information or peddling conspiracy theories.

Members should be able to focus on their own personal growth and development.

At the same time members can contribute to the mental health and healing of others by inspiring, motivating, and sharing helpful things. No-one should ever deliberately make people feel worse about themselves.

 

So now I’ve told you why I personally dislike Facebook (and other social media) I want to explain why it’s worth taking the time to upgrade and join my private community.

Benefits of joining the Ditch the Black Dog community on Substack: –

 

🐺 Your privacy is protected.

You can choose a username rather than being forced to use your real name. You’re unlikely to be spotted in the community by someone you’d rather didn’t know you were a member.

🦊 The community is inclusive and open to everyone.

You’re welcome regardless of age, race, culture, skin color, ability, disability, body shape, gender or sexual orientation.

🐺 I’m serious about maintaining the positive energy of our community space.

You can speak from the heart without fear of being trolled. Hate speech, discrimination, misinformation, bullying etc aren’t tolerated. Everyone has to register and pay to join, which helps to keep the community safer. Trouble makers can be ejected.

🦊 You have to actively choose to visit.

The fact that you have to sign into to the community sends the message that you’re serious about feeling healthy, happy, and whole. You’re mindfully taking action, rather than drifting halfheartedly in and out like you might do with social media.

🐺 You don’t have to worry about missing important information.

Unlike on social media where posts disappear very quickly, you’ll get email notifications when anything important happens. Never miss out on the latest news again! (Don’t worry, you won’t be bombarded with messages.)

🦊 I don’t sell your information to the highest (or morally lowest) bidder.

There’s no ads or spam, and you won’t suddenly be bombarded with phone calls asking you if you’ve had an accident that wasn’t your fault! 

🐺 No distractions. 

I can’t promise that there aren’t distracting posts on Substack. There are some amazing writers that I wholeheartedly recommend, but you get to choose what you read, not have endless kitten videos shoved in front of you. No more losing focus and ending up down a rabbit hole and then wondering where the last few hours went!

🦊 You can get real support when you need it.

And you’ll get encouragement to go and do things that will actually help you to ditch the black dog of depression so you can feel healthy, happy and whole.

 

Why not sign up?

 

If you’re attracted to the idea of a support group designed to help you find new ways to manage your mental health and wellness, why not join the Ditch the Black Dog Community?

You don’t have to say or do anything if you don’t want to. No pressure!!

Come on over and give a try. It’s only $11.11 a month. I want everyone to have access to a low cost, high value healing experience. Sign up below.

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About the Author

Maria Gaian

Maria Gaian is a magickal mental wellness mentor specialising in depression recovery.

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