Social media – love it or loathe it, you’ve pretty much got to accept that it’s a part of daily life in the 21st century. It’s a minefield, and especially, I think, if you’ve got a mental illness. So let’s look at the pros and cons of being mentally ill on the Internet!
First of all, I want to point out that on the Internet, it is so much easier to find your people. You can simply type in ‘mental health’ or something like that into Twitter or Instagram, and voila! There’s a whole community of people who understand what you are going through, and who have similar life experiences. There are some social media sites such as The Mental Health Forum where you can talk directly about certain topics, which can be really therapeutic. I know that I’ve learned a lot about other people’s life experiences, and gained insight about my own, because of being on the Internet.
What I’m getting at here is that on social media, you are never alone. And that can be really comforting – even if it is just seeing a stranger Tweet about their mental health (as I do sometimes). There’s nearly always someone to empathise with you, without judgement or necessarily even really needing to know who you are. And that sort of anonymous support can be super empowering! I’ve been meaning to join some sort of online social media support group for a while. If you have any links or recommendations, let me know!
However, there are obviously cons to being mentally ill and on social media as well. You may have noticed that I don’t post threads a lot on Twitter, or anything like that. I tend to re-tweet and like other people’s opinions, but I don’t express my own. That’s because it takes such an excruciatingly long time to think of how I’m going to phrase something on social media, because it makes me so anxious that someone is going to read my thoughts out of context. Even just writing this blog post is making me anxious!
Furthermore, it is so easy for me, as a person with a mental illness, to look at people’s Instagram feeds and Twitter posts and just assume that that’s what their life is really like – all airbrushed and perfect. Obviously I know that this isn’t the case, but it’s a glamorous lie that is so easy to believe. When I’m feeling low, I can’t help but compare myself to these feeds, and that just makes me feel so much worse.
What do you think? Has being mentally ill and on social media helped or hindered your mental health? Let me know!