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Trolls, Haters, Attacks, OH MY!

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November 16, 2015

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Trolls, Haters, Attacks, OH MY!

by Dior Vargas

In the past I’ve been attacked online for simply having an opinion which is unfortunately normal for women. I’ve been called a slut and that the cops protect me and my slut friends daily. I’ve been told I’m barking up the wrong stripper pole. I’ve been told to shut up and get back into the kitchen. While unsettling it was nothing I couldn’t handle. It was actually laughable. However, when my photo project started getting more attention due to its increased media coverage, it wasn’t something that I was able to just brush off.

What do you do when you’re being attacked online? Do you engage? Do you ignore? For sure, don’t read through them all. It’s not worth it. It’s hard to deal when people who don’t know you decide to call you a bitch, an ugly person inside, racist (note: there is NO such thing as reverse racism), spoiled rich girl, etc. Experiencing this is not easy. However, when you live with a mental illness, it makes it even more difficult to handle. I am able to berate and be self deprecating very well on my own so I definitely didn’t need any assistance.

Throughout my work as a mental health activist, I’ve been very transparent when it comes to who I am and what I go through on a daily basis. I am not an unattainable version of recovery. I do have my bad days regardless of the hate I receive for the work I do. It’s not easy to be well but it’s not impossible.

In the end, the work I do is to provide hope to those with mental illness, in general. When you work at the margins, where the most impacted are, you are inherently working to improve the lives of everyone. To be told that something that you put your heart into isn’t valid or necessary it is very much like the continuing invalidation of your experiences as a person of color and all of the multiple identities I carry.

Jose, Project UROK’s social media manager, put it so eloquently when someone questioned the project: “Dior’s project is not negating the validity of white mental health, nor the mental health of any other group of people. Rather, the project is giving a voice to mental illness and mental health in a community that typically does not have much visibility nor actual medical attention in this arena.”

The decision is yours to reply. Your decision has no bearing on who you are. You’re not a bad person if you don’t engage. Your self care is what is most important. Take a few days to think about this. There’s no rush. If you do decide to respond to these individuals it’s a good idea to write a few sentences of what you’d like to say so that it’s an easy copy and paste because if you use your energy to make each response particular to each comment then you’re going to get drained. For me, if you get a lot of attacks it means that you’re doing something right. That’s what has helped me cope. It’s hard to find a silver lining when you’re at your worst but if you can, it’ll help you move on and find the joy of why you started this work in the first place.

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