Happy World Mental Health Awareness Day: Instagram-Induced Depression (it’s a real thing) Let’s talk about it!
Culturally speaking I’ve always been taught to not worry about what other people were doing in and with their lives. For example, the cars they drive, how big their houses are, etc. As a result of those teachings, coupled with my lack of attention span, I didn’t pay much attention to others especially via social media. During Myspace days, I didn’t have the attention span to make my profile look nice or spend hours going on other people’s pages. And the lighthearted young girl that I was, I just let it go, and embraced being social offline.
During nursing school was when I first realized that Instagram was impacting my life, more specifically my mentality. Sometimes it brought a sort of emotional pain/anxiety because I felt like I was locked away at school not being able to “live my best life”and that I was somehow ”missing out” , other times it brought hope because I too one day would be on Instagram “poppin” after I graduated, and got to this money like everyone else.
Then I graduated, got to some money. After the excitement and realization of that wore off, I got back on Instagram and felt even worse. How is this possible?! I started feeling low and questioning myself to the core because I was comparing myself to others. I was comparing myself to people like me, happy go lucky medical care professionals (minus the happy go lucky part), and people not so much like me, like celebrities, models, bloggers, and world travelers, but what they all had in common they either looked PERFECT and/or appeared to lead PERFECT lives.
And here I am, in a new residency having difficulty yet again becoming a new nurse, which is what I always wanted and because of the constant picture perfect-ness on my phone screen I felt like I wasn’t succeeding in life. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it was really taking a toll. I questioned my happiness, my career choice, if I valued my career, if I was passionate about it? Because I didn’t want to come home and blog all about it. I started questioning what I wanted, do I want a LV purse? Or do I want it because society is telling me that’s what I should want? Am I coping with life appropriately? Am I depressed? Why am I not going around happy posting pictures and/or writing about my day to day with excitement? What is wrong with me?
I soon realized that I’m just me, and I was failing to realize:
People mostly post highlights, as in the positive and great things going on in their lives
Difficulty = Not succeeding = NOT TRUE!
Why didn’t the money solve everything? Because money wasn’t the root of the problem, my maladaptive response to social media was. So now I’m getting money, but I didn’t have the energy/desire to look like I had it. I had more fun in real time, and now it would have to look a certain way, or it wouldn’t even matter. UGH! It’s like in nursing we have this saying: “if you didn’t chart it, it didn’t happen”. It’s like if you didn’t put it on your Instagram story, it didn’t happen. The pressure to document your life! And document it “correctly” I may feel like I look amazing tonight, but I turn the camera on me, and its not coming out right, for me to show other people? Do you see the unhealthy thoughts social media can breed? It may not feel that overwhelming for some posting comes naturally, but I’m sure it’s overwhelming for others. Now honestly, most of the time, I don’t feel this way about social media, and you may not either, but there are times when our psyche is more sensitive to our IG feed. Sometimes I do want to pop out! But fighting fitting in with others and living what your best life is for you can be hard! We can forget what is actually important to us because we are letting Instagram trends tell us what’s important, which is mainly: fashion, beauty, travel, jewelry, designer things, money….none of those things being struggle, learning, growing up, problems (I know there are positive IG pages).
If social media ever left you feeling inadequate and confused as to what is important to you, or even depressed. Yeah I said it! you are not alone, and your emotions are not unwarranted.
A U.K. survey ranked Instagram as the worst social media network for mental health and well-being.
So how do we combat this? Ya girl is still trying to figure this out. But I do have some tips:
- Take a break, 1 week, 2, 3…. -However much you need. Delete the app or deactivate the account whichever works for you. Give yourself time away from the source of your unhealthy thoughts.
- Get social minus the “media” – when’s the last time you actually hit up the friends that you watch have “oh so much fun without you. Step out of your comfort zone. Or embrace your family members!
- Pick up a hobby or something without telling anyone
- Break the habit – when you feel the urge to scroll, do something else. Like read a self-motivation book, turn that energy onto yourself! Or talk or write down things about yourself that you are proud of!
- Meditate– center yourself to find out what’s important to you….your passions… your goals.
- Post a picture that you don’t think is perfect – oh the anxiety! But once its up and you leave it there. You’ll have faced your fear of imperfection.
- Unfollow folks/Follow folks – you do not have to have a front row seat to someone’s highlight reel, unfollow pages that make you uncomfortable. It’s okay! 9/10 you don’t even know them, why are you subjecting yourself. Click unfollow! And follow people and pages that inspire you, and fill your cup. It’s your social media, you can make it just how you like it.
- Talk to a therapist – I want to be apart of erasing the stigma around therapy, you do not have to be mentally ill to see one. Go get some maintenance care for your mental!
Note that I am not saying Instagram is all bad, its great for self-expression, staying in touch, and it can be so much fun! But everything in moderation, and everything as you can tolerate it.