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This forum's motto: "No one should be alone in this. We can help." offers a very powerful - and even life-saving - message: even if your depression has rendered you socially withdrawn and isolated, we're here for you online with help and support.
Unfortunately I recently learned that this just isn't true.
When my brother's secret battles with horrific emotional turmoil finally came to light, I was forced to confront tragedies about his reality which I never thought possible.
Going through his emails, I found that he'd joined depressionforums.org a couple years ago. That was sad enough, but then I found his replies to comments written by other members of depressionforums.org. The same kind, caring, and helpful big brother that I've always admired and loved had been giving other people his encouragement and offers of support. I guess it's like they were trying to redirect their focus, from negative to positive - instead of suffering alone in their depressing thoughts, this forum was their safe place to connect over the illness they share in common and help each other get better.
It appears my brother only got to post a few times on depressionforums.org before he stopped using it altogether. His email inbox only shows me his initial registration on this forum and any replies from other members who were reaching back out to whatever my brother posted. The replies from these members were really nice and it taught me a lot.
I signed myself up on depressionforums.org and searched the site for my brother's posts, and then I realised why he never got the help that this site markets itself on: he was banned.
I spent hours that afternoon combing through depressionforums.org to make sure that I hadn't missed anything that my brother posted there which violated the site's rules. He truly only got to post 3 separate times before they banned him without explanation; two of his posts were merely his words of encouragement to others battling this illness, and the other post was where my bro opened up (to a bunch of nameless, faceless strangers) and began sharing some of his experiences with feeling sad and how none of his complaints to his doctor were ever taken seriously.
As a newly registered member of this ridiculous forum myself, I made sure I read the rules and regulations carefully so that I could comprehend what could lead a support group to ban someone who was seeking the support they promote themselves as offering.
It's sickening that depressionforums.org has reserved itself the right to ban any member without warning and without explanation.
My brother's three posts were not offensive in any way, nor did they violate any of the forum's stated rules.
So the moderators at depressionforums.org reserve themselves the right to unilaterally ban any member without notice and without explanation. And once a member has been banned, the site's functionality is no longer available to them.
Googling "banned from depressionforums.org" will, sadly, reveal that my brother truly wasn't "alone in this" after all. DepressionForums.org has a history of banning other sufferers as well. But we can only learn of depressionforum.org's ridiculous practice from those brave few who survived to warn us about it online.
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