“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.” ― Shannon L. Alder
The online world is full of contradictions, and none more obvious than its tendency to create feelings of isolation even as it facilitates digital connection. Still, the anonymity and freedom from scheduling conflicts that the internet offers are, in certain circumstances, essential to forming connections with others who understand some of the most sensitive problems people face.
All of us have situations in our lives that are not easy to talk about. Maybe we are private people who just don’t like sharing deeply personal information, especially if it involves violating the privacy of someone else by talking about their involvement. Or maybe we’ve found that there are some things even the closest friends and family can’t seem to understand. Fear of being misunderstood or judged harshly can cause us to withdraw, thus creating a vicious cycle of alienation and defensive withdrawal.
This separation from others often happens even in common or fairly universal circumstances such as illness, disability or death. Imagine how the problem is magnified when the challenges are attached to some form of stigma, creating feelings of shame, embarrassment or vulnerability.
In such situations, an online source of support can be helpful. While every resource (including the ones linked below) must be evaluated carefully to determine whether it will provide support consistent with one’s own beliefs and values, the very existence of such sites can affirm that, in the words of Fred Rogers, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”
Below are just a few samples of blogs that address deeply personal, difficult life challenges that affect more people than we might guess. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Life is hard and full of struggles. If you or anyone you know could use these resources, spread the word and help others know that none of us needs to feel alone in this big and frightening world.
Are you, or is anyone you love, struggling with suicidal thoughts and emotions? You are not alone. This site offers understanding from professionals and lay people who have been there.
Has your adolescent child been snared in the dangers of online pornography? You are not alone. Visit with a hopeful mom who is navigating that particular minefield with courage and determination.
Have you been rejected and forsaken by one or more of your adult children? You are not alone. Other parents who have faced that particular heartbreak have words of support for estranged mothers and fathers.
Do you have a loved one who is incarcerated? You are not alone. Individuals and organizations can help you weather the storm of being separated from a family member who needs your love.
Has your life been affected by hoarding? You are not alone. Share the perspective of adult children who are coping with the fallout of growing up in a home where normal life was crowded out by stuff.
This short list is far from exhaustive. There are online support groups for pretty much any difficulty out there. The caveat is that there is a great deal of online “information” that is untrustworthy, deceptive and damaging, so discernment is of paramount importance. But with due diligence and caution, it’s possible to find helpful, potentially life saving or sanity saving guidance as well.
We humans are often overwhelmed and floundering, but we remain capable of remarkable things when we reach out to each other in faith and understanding. Whoever you are, whatever you are facing…remember you are not alone!