Going on social media on the weekend used to be the worst for me in my darker days of depression. All the Instagram posts and Snapchat stories of parties and nights out were enough to make me feel like a total outcast. But after seeing the same girls constantly adding drunken pictures of themselves to a Facebook album titled “J u n i o r s 1 7”, I questioned if that was truly what I wanted or what I thought I wanted. Did I really want to be a victim to the cycle of craving attention— addicted to portraying myself as the girl with the “perfect life”?
For anyone who has dealt with depression you have asked all the same questions I have scrolling through social media: “Why do they get to be happy?” “How come I can’t just go out and have a good time?” “Why am I a boring loser who sits at home every weekend?” Seeing your peers supposedly having all this fun can make you feel an instant rush of loneliness and sadness. But for young adults like me struggling to find just an ounce of self-worth, seeking validation through a screen was deteriorating my self esteem even more. I was caught up in what I thought was supposed to make me happy instead of what did make me happy. I was so lost and confused, unable to grasp any concept other than the ones I had created in my own head. The negative thoughts that devoured my rationality and desire to live controlled my every move. Social media was only making a debilitating darkness somehow even darker.
The internet and social media will forever play an enormous role in our society. Although my depression is and was much more complex than just the effects of social media; I feel like what I have learned can be of value to many. Depression had turned me into the most stubborn person on the planet. I only believed what I wanted to believe. But as I slowly progressed in therapy, and my medication finally started to work, the hold depression had on me was finally loosening up.
I learned so much after I deleted and cleansed my social media accounts. The consequences of being consumed by social media can be pretty serious. You often lose perspective of who you are. One of the most valuable things I discovered in my recovery is that your self-worth absolutely is not defined through the screen on your phone. It doesn’t matter what you post, who follows you, or how witty your caption is; it shouldn’t define your happiness. So many of us get caught up in using social media as validation that we are better than the next person. Validation that we are good enough, pretty enough, or popular enough. But why is it such a vicious competition? Why is the instant high of posting a picture followed by shame or regret? Why are we so worried about an app on our phones? Why do we compare ourselves to others just to feel some sort of emotion? Why do we seek out something we know is going to upset us or make us feel insecure?
Nowadays, I am perfectly fine with not doing what “everyone else” is doing for fun. I love being with my dogs. I’m always stopping in to see my grandparents. I’m constantly texting or talking to my best friend, and I see her as much as possible. I play with my neighbors’ kids outside all the time. They are so funny and cute, and they love when I come outside to play with them. I’m no longer worried if my neighbors think I’m a loser for playing with their kids outside. “Shouldn’t she be in college?” would repeat in my head constantly. But I no longer portray my insecurities on others. I no longer let false perceptions of how I should be living my life dictate my happiness and worth. I no longer chase after a narrative that was never meant for me to begin with.