I’m taking a health communications class right now and one topic we have explored a lot these past few weeks is how social media affects one’s mental health. I will be the first to say that overall, social media has not had a positive influence on my mental health. And yet, it’s literally an addiction. I can’t separate myself from social media because, well, F.O.M.O. It’s pathetic, I know. I am so concerned with missing out on something that I just can’t delete the apps.
This isolation is taking a huge toll on my mental health. With all this free time I have found myself obsessing over social media. But it’s not even media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, I have been obsessing over Pinterest and Youtube. Both platforms used to be such positive sites for me. I would watch funny Youtube videos from people like David Dobrik and on Pinterest I would re-pin posts of artwork or pictures that just made me feel good. Now, I open my computer and instantly search for things like “how I lost 20 pounds” or “what I eat in a day as a model”. I have become far too invested in searches like this where I will get sucked into Youtube videos for hours on end, obsessing over how I can become better and constantly comparing myself to other people and telling myself that I am not good enough.
I have suffered from anxiety and depression for years. I think I was in 7th grade when I first got diagnosed with anxiety. If I don’t keep myself busy, I obsess over my thoughts. I need distractions in life to protect my mental health and right now there just aren’t many distractions. I’ve tried taking up a new hobby but I quickly become bored and would rather just lie in bed . . . on Youtube . . . obsessing.
Social media can be so toxic because you see these people posting on platforms like Instagram where they look so perfect and so happy. It’s hard to bring yourself back to the reality of those posts sometimes. Often times they’re edited and it’s so easy to act like you’re happy for a second just to take a photo. Hell, I’ve been there too. Growing up, I always knew I had depression but my mom would just reassure me that it is just a chemical imbalance in my brain. I tried to just help my depression as much as I could, but it is SO frustrating being upset and not being able to explain why. Some days I just feel off and I just want to cry. There is a picture on my Instagram of me on a beautiful beach in Thailand with a sunset behind me. I’m running towards the camera with a big smile on my face. I posted that photo one night and people commented things like, “You look so happy!” and “Love how happy you are!” But, what social media doesn’t know, is that just 3 hours before that picture I had the biggest mental break down I think I have ever had. I was sitting at this little restaurant on the beach with my family, listening to good music and drinking a smoothie, when out of nowhere I just broke down and balled my eyes out at the table. I couldn’t explain why I was crying and I had no reason to be crying. I was on this beautiful vacation with my family, and yet, I was more sad than I have ever been. But you would never be able to guess from the looks of my social media.
In the past, I have always just “toughened up” when it came to my mental health. I didn’t want to look “weak” and open up about my emotions to other people. But honestly, SCREW THAT. We need to normalize mental health for the sake of everyone’s well-being. There is such a stigma around mental health and it has f*cked me up. There’s been a lot of talk about people being productive during this pandemic and using this time to “get in shape” and “glow-up” and not going to lie, I hopped on that train for a minute. I told myself I would workout every single day and use this time to really get in shape, but instead, I think my time is better used just doing what I can for my mental health, and just getting by. After all, this is a global pandemic. It’s not a competition for productivity.
So for anyone else out there struggling with their mental health, you are not alone. This world needs you; you are SO important.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (available 24/day and they also provide an online chat system)
Sending all my love to those who need it.