This morning I came across two different articles talking about social media and depression. The first one was a study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The study outlines the correlation between social media use and depression in people ages 19 to 32. Minutes later, I saw another article pop up in my Twitter feed. This one talks about how people with mental health issues can benefit from social media. Kinda crazy, right?
I mean, I understand both sides. Social media provides a place for us to share our lives, stories, pictures, etc. The problem with this is that everything is usually filtered through rose colored glasses. Believe me, I know. I love social media. I love sharing. I love reading people’s posts. For me, I don’t have the jealousy bone, which plagues many people on social media. But I did use it to tap out of my life for a bit.
The past year or so, I have suffered from a lot of different issues. I am not here to broadcast all the nitty gritty, but I’m sure you can image. If you look through my social media posts, you can’t see any of this. But I do. I see it in my eyes. I see it in my lack of enthusiasm. It’s there, but it’s covered with a filter.
Social media, although amazing, gives everyone a platform to be a one upper. This can really mess with your head. Like why is his life so cool? She’s always so happy. And so on and so on. I can’t imagine growing up with Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. When I was a teenager, we were just beginning to explore chat rooms and talking on AIM and ICQ. The online competition wasn’t there and the bullying wasn’t anything like it is today. It was more like HOLY CRAP I CAN CHAT WITH MY FRIENDS assuming you didn’t get a phone call, which kicked you off the Internet. I feel old just writing this crap.
Unfortunately, Internet trolls and insecurities are a hard thing to tackle. So, like a lot of situations, I think it’s important to focus on the positive. Social media provides us with an opportunity to connect with people we probably would never have met. In situations where a person is suffering from anything, whether it’s depression, anxiety, loneliness, WHATEVER messed up thing our brain is telling us that day, this can be life changing.
A lot of people don’t understand mental illness and I get it. It can be a scary thing to watch someone you love go through. Like just feel better, right? I mean that’s just it. The stigma surrounding mental illness is part of the problem. People deal with sadness and loneliness and on top of that they are looked down upon or isolated even more because people just don’t understand. I have been reading so much over the past year about depression and anxiety, eating disorders and how people cope. And, the amazing thing was, it wasn’t hard to find. There are blogs and forums, support groups and people standing beside complete strangers. And, it is really f*cking beautiful.
May is Mental Health Month, and I hope that you will take the time to learn a little more, reach out to someone you know is struggling. Or maybe even get some help for yourself.