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Getting support through Side by Side

Monday, 10 October 2022 Alex

Alex blogs about how Mind’s online forum has helped them and that has enabled them to help others.

I’ve been using Mind’s Side by Side online forum for a couple of years, and I usually go on every day. Side by Side is a safe and anonymous place for users to come together and chat about how we’re feeling or even our favourite movies. Sometimes it’s just for a few minutes, but other times I can be online chatting for a few hours.

“On Side by Side I can be myself. I have a confidence that I wouldn't have in a face-to-face situation.”

I was diagnosed with autism two years ago, but I’ve struggled with severe depression and social anxiety since I was 12. Being around people is one of the major challenges I face and I struggle in groups or leaving the house, which means making friends is quite difficult for me. But when I’m on Side by Side I’m in a safe environment where I can be myself. I have a confidence that I wouldn't have in a face-to-face situation.

 Moderated by Mind

I don't often share how I'm feeling on Side by Side because of my social anxiety. However, when I have posted that I am finding things difficult, Mind has messaged me and given me helplines and support, which has been useful. I like that it’s moderated by Mind to make sure nothing inappropriate is posted.

Not all the conversations I have on Side by Side are serious. Some days I just chat to other users about Marvel films, and it’s a good distraction. By not focusing on the mental health side and just talking about things that we enjoy, it helps both parties.


Speaking more to people

I write stories. and I’ve shared them with a few people on Side by Side. They tell me I’m good with words and I should try speaking to people more, which I find hard, but I have been trying. In the past when people spoke to me, I would answer them with one or two words, but now, because of the encouragement I’ve received from Side by Side, when someone asks how I am I will also ask how they are.

I really like helping people, listening to them and offering them advice. Helping others, helps me.

“She said that I saved her life that night. It’s one of those things I look back on when I'm depressed.”

A couple of years ago, a girl on the forum posted that she was feeling low. Although I knew Mind would provide her with support, I wanted to get in touch to let her know that there was someone out there that she could talk to. We ended up talking online throughout the night. She told me how she was feeling, and how her disabilities impacted her life. I listened, and we kept talking. We’re still friends to this day. We message each other a lot.

She said that I saved her life that night. It’s one of those things I look back on when I'm depressed and when I write in my journal. I realise that I'm making positive steps.

Using Side by Side is good because people are in the same boat as you. If you share something, it's highly likely that someone's going to relate to it and share their experiences or advice. It's been really helpful for me to have that support.

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Information and support

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Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.

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