If you’re looking to get your thoughts and opinions out to as many people as possible, the modern world of social media is the most diverse and reachable audience available. But sometimes, it can be used recklessly.
A meme currently doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter gives us a before and after look at Prison Break star Wentworth Miller roughly five years apart – and it has everybody talking.
“When you break out of prison and find out about McDonald’s monopoly,” is the caption most people are going for with this particular image. But it’s just a lighthearted joke, no?! No. Just a small bit of research can provide you with all you need to know about Wentworth Miller’s struggle with his sexuality, well-documented depression and attempts at taking his own life.
This ‘lighthearted joke’ quickly becomes very unfunny. Celebrities may be constantly in the public eye, but they’re certainly not bulletproof – and Wentworth’s response to this meme on Facebook proves just that.
The post reads:
Today I found myself the subject of an Internet meme. Not for the first time. This one, however, stands out from the rest. In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low-profile for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, I was suicidal.
This is a subject I’ve since written about, spoken about, shared about. But at the time I suffered in silence. As so many do. The extent of my struggle known to very, very few. Ashamed and in pain, I considered myself damaged goods. And the voices in my head urged me down the path to self-destruction. Not for the first time. I’ve struggled with depression since childhood. It’s a battle that’s cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights.
In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be. And I put on weight. Big f–king deal.
One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling. They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career. “Hunk To Chunk.” “Fit To Flab.” Etc. My mother has one of those “friends” who’s always the first to bring you bad news. They clipped one of these articles from a popular national magazine and mailed it to her. She called me, concerned. In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed.
Long story short, I survived. So do those pictures. I’m glad. Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without. Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist. Anyway. Still. Despite.
The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness. Of myself and others. If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They’re waiting to hear from you. Much love. – W.M.Advertisement
It’s very easy to make jokes about people from behind a keyboard, but your jokes can have serious consequences. The issue of mental health is being discussed more and more these days, but not nearly enough. A very high percentage of people still don’t fully understand depression – and how easy it is to not only ruin someone’s day, but their life, with just 140 characters.
Wentworth Miller is just one man, and the way he has handled this situation should be applauded. But not everybody has an audience as big as his at their fingertips who can provide messages of support. Some people don’t have a support network whatsoever.
— Scott Edgar (@thesneakybandit) March 29, 2016
Huge bravo to Wentworth Miller for this statement, that's some powerful reading that pic.twitter.com/knvVN5I3BV
— Lauren Kerr (@laurenvkerr) March 29, 2016
— Jen Petro-Roy (@jpetroroy) March 29, 2016
Everyone should read this post by Wentworth Miller about his battle with depression, suicidal thoughts, and eating. https://t.co/5iMY0bUn0J
— Mia Siegert (@MiaSiegert) March 28, 2016Advertisement
The above tweets are just one example of the good that social media can provide, but if used carelessly, it can be a very dangerous tool – and until schools start teaching the next generation about mental health and provide lessons on social media and the impact it can have when used this way, more and more people are going to find themselves responsible for sending somebody over the edge.
Have you ever contemplated suicide? Feel like you have nobody to speak to about your issues? There are plenty of websites and helplines available at every hour of the day. Check out Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) or call the Samaritans on 116 123.
We are in no way affiliated with the original uploader of the meme in question.