6 Tips for Healthy Internet Support

mouse and keyboardThe Internet. For those of us seeking help and company in the horrible isolation that is a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder, the Internet can be the helping hand we have longed for as we sink into the depths of our own private hells. The Internet may also be a source of magnification for intrusive thoughts, like one of those games with a claw that reaches down and dispenses toys (only in our case, a new obsession/intrusive thought is dropped into our heads). Or we can get so caught up in the support we have found online that we ignore the support right in front of us, not even realizing we are doing so.

So how do we avoid these pitfalls as we search for our tribe in the darkest of our days?

I’ve gathered a few tips for you:

Have someone you trust search for information for you. If all you are seeking is more information on your condition and not an online support resource, get someone you trust to provide you with information. Explain to them that you just want the facts. Signs, symptoms, treatment, how to handle it. Nothing more, nothing less. No scary stories about moms, just plain and simple facts. In fact, we have something you can use right here at Postpartum Progress..

When using a forum, be mindful of your own healthy boundaries. What do I mean by this? If you know you are easily influenced, don’t read posts by others. Ask your question, read the replies. Don’t meander all over the forum if something might set you off. How can you do this? Esther Dale said she has a keyword list of things she knows trigger her and she will scan for those words before reading anything. This goes for the entire Internet as well. Know thy limits, mama, and keep them.

Speaking of limits, set a TIME limit for participation in any forum. Yes, it’s difficult to set aside any amount of time as a new mother, but with the advent of smartphones (and smartwatches), many new moms have increasing and unlimited access to the Internet at any time of day. Decide when you’ll access the Internet for support and STICK TO THOSE TIMES. Unless, of course, something urgent comes up and you need to reach out. Bottom line, don’t spend your entire day browsing the forums and ingesting a bunch of issues other people are experiencing. Live your life, reach out when you need to, and then step away.

Recognizing a reputable website/forum: This can be difficult, but it’s necessary to be able to do this as in this day and age, anyone can slap a website up and call it a day. I’ve written a post about browsing the Internet safely here. Also, most websites dealing with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders will have:

Heard of/make mention of Postpartum Progress and/or Postpartum Support International

A disclaimer encouraging you to clear any information found on said website with a physician prior to implanting it.

Not promise to CURE your Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. (This one is HUGE. HUGE. Any website which promises to CURE your Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder is preying on you and should be absolutely avoided.)

Demand you send payment to access their information, which, surprisingly, promises to CURE your Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder.

Grow your offline support group instead. While it’s tough for many moms to locate in person support for a myriad of reasons (access, stigma, financial, etc…), it is important to grow your in person support in addition to the support you have online. For those who have partners who are not supportive, have them visit your doctor with you so he/she can discuss any concerns or misunderstandings of your issues with them. Have the doctor explain what they can do to help you through your Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder.

Get outside. Take the baby, put them in a stroller, and go for a walk. Breathe in the fresh air, look at the sky, watch the trees sway in the wind. Changing your scenery, getting some good old fashioned Vitamin D, and exhaling your issues helps tremendously. Is it a cure? No. But it’s a baby step toward living life to the fullest again, even if you only manage to get to the mailbox or just down the block on your first try.

Support is key to Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. For many, many, many mamas, that support comes from the Internet. It is important to balance this support with in-life support including your family, a healthcare professional, and friends. It is okay to need a day here or there to yourself, we all need downtime. But if you find yourself constantly checking your phone, reading forums or scanning for information on the Internet obsessively and getting snappy if someone interrupts what you are doing, then it’s time for you to step away from the Internet and back into the real world. Don’t worry, the support on the Internet won’t disappear – it will still be there as you need it. But as you reach out to the Internet, make sure you’re reaching out to the real physical world around you as well. You’re worth it.

 

This is not at all an exhaustive list of signs or suggestions to avoid triggers/maintain mental health while researching or seeking help on the Internet. If you think you or someone you know may be showing signs of Internet Addiction, please talk to someone about it. Likewise, if you are in need of support for Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders, you can find it right here, in The Warrior Mom Community. Please use it mindfully.

 

{photo source: Computer, Mouse, keyboard – pixabay}

About Lauren Hale

Lauren Hale tells it like it is about Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders over at My Postpartum Voice. She is also the founder of #PPDChat, an online Twitter & FB Community dedicated to supporting moms on their journey by harnessing the power of the Internet. You can find her on Twitter @unxpctdblessing.

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