Mental Health & Social Media: Home Alone Downloading While Everyone Else is Uploading

I was lying in bed on a Thursday night recently in my apartment while my five roommates were out at the bar. I had been invited, encouraged even, to go out with them, but I was in a low, and wasn’t in the frame of mind to socialize and make small talk. As the hours went by I found myself scrolling through the same three social media apps, and I could feel the little energy I had being consumed from me even more. I was filling my negative space with the seemingly positive lives of others, comparing myself to those who were having a much better time than I was.

I often like to think of myself as having an acute sense of self awareness. Through running a website about mental health, I am constantly learning about new things to be aware of with my depression and incorporating them to better myself and improve my lifestyle.

But the truth is I still fall for some tricks that my depression plays on me. Tricks that make me question concrete parts of my life, engage in negative coping mechanisms, and make a few poor decisions every once in awhile.

Recently I realized that the way I use social media is one of those poor decisions I make regarding my mental health.

16972652809_e26cdaa603_z.jpg

Now I’m not saying that social media caused my depression that night my friends all went out to the bar. According to a study conducted on Facebook use and depression, there is no direct relation between social media use and depression. But what I can say, without a doubt, is that the way I was using it while depressed made my symptoms worse.

The study supports this, as the way social media is used can affect how we feel. The main argument in the study is that when Facebook is used as a tool for personal surveillance, envious tendencies can occur, ultimately leading to depressive symptoms.

Envy?

I didn’t feel envious, did I? I was just seeing what other people were doing. I was just scrolling through observing funny tweets and pictures from the bar and reading a conversation between the two love birds while I did…

absolutely nothing.

Wait.

Surveillance is defined as time spent on social media seeing what other people are doing and comparing it back to what you are not doing. While I may have not been consciously comparing myself with friends, I think part of me knows that I was wishing I was capable of having as much fun as they were.

I continued to feel worse, questioning why I wasn’t able to keep it together enough to go out with my friends. Because of these new doubts, I started to think that their lives were always like this – exciting and fun-filled, while inversely thinking mine was dull and bland.

alone-1868530_960_720.jpg

A recent Huffington Post article tells the story of a woman named Sydney who experienced hardships during her freshman year adjusting to college life with her anxiety disorder. She described how she began to struggle to distinguish between “fact and fiction” and constantly compared herself to others when using different forms of social media, including Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

“Instagram and Snapchat make me hyper aware of the activities I wasn’t invited to partake in, and less involved in the activities that are actually in front of me,” Sydney writes. “Comparing myself to others is blatantly unhealthy….it makes me question my place in life.”

When social media platforms are used as surveillance and lead us to compare ourselves with others, we start accepting the lives people are uploading as truth. Individuals who consistently use Facebook are more likely to agree that others have better lives. This mindset can be dangerous for our mental health.

When we publish updates and statuses about ourselves, we tend to post only the positive things that happen in our lives, very rarely do we post the negatives that occur. So when someone is fighting something like depression or anxiety, comparing the times they’re struggling to lives seen on online profiles that appear “perfect” can make someone more afraid to speak up.

Because if everyone else is doing okay, we should be good enough to handle this ourselves, right?

But why do we only post the positive things from their lives? This could be based on the way we are “rewarded” for posting. On Instagram, Twitter, and until recently Facebook, posts are awarded with “likes”. Typically, positive and humorous posts get more “likes” than those that are sad or negative.

4857593259_a2b5bb85c5_z.jpg

We’ve been conditioned to post the positive parts of our lives. We almost do it subconsciously. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that people’s lives are more complicated than their Facebook feeds suggest, especially for people like me who deal with the feelings of inadequacy that come with depression. All it takes is a depressive episode to leave me helplessly scrolling through feeds and concluding that my life is terrible and I’m not doing enough.

Not only is posting positively encouraged, but we need to post enough so that we feel satisfied that people know we are doing something. Apps like Snapchat plant the idea in our head that we need to share our life and every incredible moment in it to have a form of validation. We take videos of the concert we’re attending, post pictures of the food we eat, and make sure we snapchat every funny thing that happens when we’re out with friends. We need to let other people know we do things. We need the validation.

We need to let other people know we’re alive.

But if you have depression, feeling alive can often be a very difficult thing to do. Depression makes us feel like we already aren’t doing enough. It whispers in our ear that we are a failure, that our loved ones don’t love us, and that our existence is meaningless.

But we do matter.

And we don’t need to prove every day that we are happy (whether we are or not) through social media.

Our mental health is important. And the truth is everyone really isn’t as okay as their Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter suggest. While this may seem obvious, it is important to note that our guard can be substantially lowered when dealing with the effects of a mental health condition. Especially those of us who are already fighting a constant battle like I am with depression. Because that’s what happened to me.

I spent so many nights, already in a depressive state, scrolling aimlessly through social media apps and wondering why I couldn’t hold myself together like everyone else. I still do it sometimes. But now I’m constantly trying to remind myself that this is not the whole picture. Social media is often a positive tool to unite us all, but don’t let its representations of only the best parts of our lives convince you that you don’t fit in the reality it has created on the days you feel at your worst.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF


Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, TwitterTumblr, and Instagram

Feature Image Source

Article dear hope

The Happiness Video Project by Zach Cooper: A Preview

Hi, I’m Zach and this is my project.

One day I decided I wanted to film a bunch of people being happy for me. Real, genuine smiles. Everyday you go on social media and see negativity in some sort of way so I kind’ve wanted to break the day to day negativity down with something extremely happy and positive. You also see people claiming life is about spending money and traveling to be happy, but I think you can find happiness right in your backyard.

The idea started with filming a few people but snowballed into filming over 40 different people all smiling and doing something they love to do. My project still needs more people so I’m hoping to finish the project in 2017 but need help, I just moved from Massachusetts to New York City and don’t really know anyone here. Thankfully ‘Dear Hope’ said they could help me by sharing this project, so reach out!

I don’t bite. Come say hi and check out some of my work! I love meeting new people and guarantee we can have some smiles.

Instagram: zachcoop

Portfolio: https://productionzsc.myportfolio.com/projects


Be on the lookout for Zach’s full project early next year back here on Dear Hope.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, TwitterTumblr, and Instagram

A Lens Into Our World dear hope

Quote of the Day: 10/27/16

A quote I came across today that reminded me of the beliefs we have here at Dear Hope.

“I think people that are driven to make art are coping with things – anxieties or what have you. You feel boiling rage or crushing depression without knowing why, eventually engaging in a lot of coping mechanisms you aren’t aware of. The difference between then and now is just awareness, knowing where it all comes from, what the dangers can be, being able to hopefully exert some control over everything so that I’m not obliviously self destructive or wasting my energy.”

-Greg Puciato of the Dillinger Escape Plan

Source

dear hope

Art Showcase: “Tension” – A Beautiful Discomfort by Corey Marsh

I recently spent a night talking with artist Corey Marsh about his art series entitled “Tension”. The work is simultaneously beautiful and discomforting. Later this week I’ll have a full interview posted with him, but for now enjoy these pictures and a look into the process behind them. Here’s what Marsh had to say.

My latest work has been very much focused on the body, with surreal forms composed of contorted and mashed up hands and other body parts. These are an exploration into my mental health and my emotional state of mind.

13288715_1004001196347610_1654323674_o (1)

“Hand”

I’ve recently gone through this period in my life where everything came crashing down in a tragically terrible manner. I felt these weird, overwhelming feelings that I’m not sure I know how to accurately describe with words. It was this discomfort and tension that seemed to radiate throughout my entire body. Sort of like that feeling of pins and needles when your leg is asleep – or that itch you can’t scratch because for some reason it’s the inside of your leg that itches. But instead of an itch or a pin poking at me, it was this internal feeling of being pulled this way and that way all at once, like my inner organs and flesh were being tied up in massive uncomfortable knots at the pit of my stomach and in the center of my brain.

It was terrible and the worst part was I couldn’t even accurately describe the feeling. I feel like even now, talking about it, I’m not truly capturing it. So I turned to my art to express it.

13275565_1004001183014278_1422723047_o (1)

“Backache”

These feelings of unease and distress became so much clearer to me through this new series of work. In my photos, I captured my own body in bizarre poses in the lighting studio back at school, usually tugging at my skin on my back or on my face, creating physical and viewable tension. Then, through photoshop, I layered and collaged these images to create surreal forms and masses that through their bizarre nature of walking the line between believable and unreal added to their discomfort.

13282788_1004001153014281_1864241127_o (1)

“Flesh”

This new work of mine is a new means of exploring my mental health through my own physical body. In it, I portray what can’t be seen, my state of mind, as if it were just another physical appendage that could use tending to. Too often mental health takes a backseat to physical health. In this series, the two become one.

13271417_1004001179680945_730158615_o (1)

“Pulling”

Find all the images from the Tension showcase in the slideshow below. To check out more of Corey’s work find his online gallery here. Be sure to keep up with him on Twitter and Instagram as well.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter,Tumblr, and Instagram

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Lens Into Our World dear hope

“My Confession: Depression, Faith & Isolation” – Coping: This is Who We Are Entry 20

I was never one to thrive off of isolation. “A spry little spurt who’s never met a stranger” is a succinct summary of many an individual’s perception of me as a child. I lived and breathed on the social interaction that I could find. Old people were fun to joke with, adults were cool to talk to, and kids my age were naïve enough to be my friend.

I grew up in a pastor’s home. Social interaction kind of came with the territory but I was perfectly fine with it. I found outlets to express my inner nerd, girls to chase around the church parking lot, and reasons to tag along on youth group events, even though I was only eight.

I played baseball. Well, tried to play baseball. Little league was the thing to do in my town and both my father and I signed up. He coached, I played. A power duo, I suppose you could call it. I wanted nothing more than to make my dad proud. He had played baseball in his high school years and turned out to be pretty good. I thought that if I could only catch the ball better, hit the ball harder, or run the bases faster, he would tell me those five words: I’m proud of you, son.

I developed a propensity, in my younger years, towards the pursuit of perfection. I didn’t want to disappoint those around me, I didn’t want to make my dad upset with me, and I didn’t want to fail at anything I did. Unfortunately, there were times that I disappointed those around me, made my father upset with me, and failed at the things I did. In fact, those occurrences of failure became more consistent the older I got and the harder I tried.

1506399_1541965799448201_4324757743553416514_n.jpg

“God” was the thing to do; believing in Him, that is. I mean, I was a pastor’s kid. I pretty much had to. I also felt the need to be perfect in this area as well. The moment you step through the door’s of God’s church it seemed as if every pair of eyes were on you. Some of them were loving, some of them speculative, and others were simply mean. One slip up in the church world and you created a mess for daddy to clean up. I felt that any mistake on my part would make my dad look bad. Be good. Keep your mouth shut. Smile and wave.

That’s what I did. I believed in God, tried to be good, tried to keep my mouth shut, and I tried to blend in. I was a free spirit when I was with my friends but I never felt like I fit in. The kids around me were all older and weren’t appreciative of my attempts to “be cool”. Skateboarding and long hair were the cool things to do but I couldn’t do either of them. Making jokes that had the entire group rolling on the floor wasn’t my forte. What was I left with? Star Wars action figures and muddled hopes and dreams of being accepted.

Fast forward through my teenage years. Ages 11-16 were pretty much the same story. Go to church, be a pastor’s kid, learn to preach, and try to have friends. In the midst of all of this my family had decided to be missionaries to Australia. Deciding this meant that we had to raise monthly support. We spent two years on the road travelling from church to church with very limited success. I lost a lot of the major contact I had with my closest friends because I was constantly in the back of a mini van. 25 states and two years later my mom and dad felt that the Lord was calling them to instead move to Georgia to be a youth pastor.

I didn’t blame them. I didn’t hate them. At this point moving was normal and home was relative to the place I laid my head down at night. Just another day in the Malin family.

218092_5284352621_2991_n.jpg

We moved to Georgia right at the start of my Freshman year of high school. I was roughly 14-15 years old, 6 feet tall, looked like Harry Potter (glasses and all), and about a hundred pounds wet. Why do these things matter? I got picked on mercilessly at my new high school. Verbally abused. It came to a point where my dad even told me he might let me fight these kids. I was ready. I had never been in a fight but I was dying to prove my worth.

I tried my hand at baseball but sat the bench the entire year. I started working out but could barely lift the bar. Kids at church all thought I was obnoxious and tried to avoid me. Pretty lonely life to begin with but now it was setting in: I didn’t measure up.

Want to know what changed people’s perception and ability to accept me? Getting rid of my glasses. Yeah, that’s right. The culture of that town was so shallow that a simple addition of contacts to the daily life opened up a plethora of doors to friendships. At the time I didn’t care. I was finally accepted. People were my friends again!

Then we moved.

This time to Michigan and this time a little more painful than the last. Halfway through my sophomore year I found myself sitting in a new classroom with new opportunities and new fears. Instead of having to fight for my relationships, the relationships fought for me. It was a small town with a small school and I instantly became the hit attraction. New kid on the block meant lots of attention. Yay me!

We spent two years there and I grew immensely. I travelled to South Korea on a mission’s trip where my view of God was radically changed. I started dating girls and learned that my heart could be broken beyond what I already knew. I started playing the guitar, drums, piano, and began to sing. I wanted to excel. I wanted to conquer. I wanted to finish my high school years on top of the world.

Then we moved.

Halfway through my senior year I’m back in the town I was born in and lived in before we moved to Georgia. This time all of my childhood friends were gone. The church wasn’t the same. I had walked into a radically different place. I was pissed. I had six months of my high school career left and here I am going on to school number three.

I was fed up. I was tired of having to be on the receiving end of pain from my parent’s decisions. I didn’t hate them. I didn’t blame them. I simply didn’t like them. My heart was ready to be on my own and to make my own decisions.

I had a grand total of three friends my last six months of high school. I was miserable. I went to a small bible college in the fall and immediately started dating a girl who tore my heart inside out within a month of our being together. It was here that I saw people’s true colors. It was here that my depression began.

Malin-74 (1).jpg

I spent six months at that school and made a lot of bad decisions. I turned my back on God and I turned my back on the people who had hurt me. I hated what I was going through and I couldn’t even process it. I left the school after six months. I came home and started working for a temp agency…Fired after two months.

Fired? I’m a pastor’s kid.

I don’t get fired.

I don’t get fired.

I spiraled down into isolation and hatred. I burned any bridge that stood to be burned. I made the ashes my home. Day after day I slipped deeper into depression and I didn’t even realize it. I justified my anger. I thought that it was a good thing. Meanwhile, my father, the very man I wished to never disappoint, was always at my throat. We couldn’t stand each other. My mom stood in the kitchen bawling one day. She begged me to fix my relationship with my dad. Whatever love I had left in my heart tried but I believed it was too far gone.

I gave up.

Suicide came to mind. I struggled with the apathy towards dying. I didn’t care if I woke up the next day. There was no one to help. Everyone had turned their back on me. The very thing I placed all of my hope in had crushed me. I couldn’t trust anyone anymore, not even God.

I laid in bed one night and entertained the thought of death. I could’ve swore that there was something in my room. A presence…Whatever it was, I can tell you that it wasn’t Jesus.

Matty Feature

Soon enough, the grace of God came flooding into my heart and opened my eyes to the hell that I was living in. Something inside of me awoke and began to scream for help. I can’t tell you how, nor why, nor for what reason. All I know is that my eyes were opened and I was scared. I was scared because I knew who I had become and I knew just how far I had run from God. I had nowhere else to turn but to my dad.

After a hard, long conversation with him I learned that he had been going through the same things. I couldn’t believe that after all of that time thinking that I was alone, there was someone within arm’s reach of me thinking the very same things. Funny how the devil blinds you to the help you need. From that day on, my relationships with all of my family members have been restored and healed.

To make a very long story shorter, fast forward 3 years and I’m learning. Some days I’m learning how to thrive, some days I’m learning how to cope, and other days I’m simply just surviving.
But that’s ok. God has brought me to my knees on more than one occasion with reminders of His immaculate love and forgiveness for me. In fact, not but a month ago I sat on my couch weeping over my losses, my hatred for myself, and then I finally let it all go.

I became a free man.

I learned that it’s one thing to forgive others and it’s another thing to be forgiven by God. Those things are a must in this life. People are going to hurt you. You’re going to hurt people. It’s a fact. There’s no escaping it. You can’t change it. Do their attacks mean that there’s something wrong with you? Not all of the time. If you ever mess up and hurt someone else be quick to ask for forgiveness and be quick to admit that you were wrong. If someone else hurts you then be quick to forgive. It’s a give and take relationship. To be forgiven you must forgive.

I learned something else, though. We spend so much time trying to forgive others that we forget to forgive ourselves. My 23-year pursuit of perfection left me hollow, dry, and hateful. Not just towards other people but mostly towards myself. It wasn’t until God opened my eyes to it that I found complete wholeness inside of Him. The fact that Jesus sacrificed His life for me on behalf of my sin rattled my heart to the core. I finally understood that He loved me and wanted nothing but the best for me.

Do people still hurt me? Yes. Do I still hurt people? Unfortunately. Will any of that change? No. What can and should be said of our lives is of the willingness to forgive. Whether you believe in a God or not doesn’t change the fact that you and I have been forgiven of much. It is in this knowledge that we should be ready and willing to forgive just as deeply and even quicker.

Easier said than done. It’s a process and you have to be willing to let yourself go through it. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t come as quickly as you’d like it to. Make mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and never give up.

Don’t just cope with your depression. Beat it. Show it who’s boss.

You have value. You are of worth. You are loved.

May God show himself real and faithful to you.

-Matt

Malin-4

Special thanks to Matt for his incredible entry into our Coping series. Some of the photos included in this post were from his photography project,”Confession Through Photograph”, which we featured here last month. Be sure to check out more of his writing on his blog Confessions.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

Coping: This Is Who We Are dear hope

Poetry: Giving My Illness a Name

I flirted with death
long before my sadness was given a name
there’s something about being so sad
for so long
that makes it seem like death is the only option

I flirted with death
long before anybody knew about my sadness
there’s something about giving depression a name
that takes it’s power away

some say
giving something a name gives it more power
but I don’t think that is true
because giving depression a name
told me that it wasn’t just me
sent me a message that my sadness wasn’t forever

I flirted with death
long before my sadness was given a name
my depression
it is my depression because I own the illness
it does not own me

R.E


 

Find more poetry from this author on their Tumblr page.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

 

 

Creative Pieces dear hope

Why is Happiness so Hard?

Why is Happiness so Hard?

The last couple of months have been difficult. They have been hard for reasons I cannot fathom into words because I do not know the correct vocabulary to describe the empty pit in my stomach, the yearning in my chest for something more.

More. I always need more.

I have everything in this world but my brain, my chest, my heart, my throat, my limbs, my being is always grasping for more.

Maybe more isn’t want I need. It’s not what I’m searching for. No, what I’m ultimately wanting is to feel at ease. To feel okay. To feel worthy. To feel utter happiness.

There are dark clouds inside my mind that like to take a backseat most of the time but never fully leave my head. They precipitate ideas that I am not good enough, I do not deserve what I have: the people in my life, the progress I have made.

Let me briefly explain to you what I have in this life, and why I am so mad at myself.

12574749583_074e3de5b4_z.jpg

I have a mother who would give everything in her being to wipe the clouds from my brain, to give me even just a moment of sincere happiness.

I have a father who would cut down every single tree that is blocking the sun from reaching my dark thoughts.

I have a brother who will stand by me through every panic attack, mental breakdown, and through all of my second, third, and fourth thoughts about making decisions, and then tell me “You did so great, Rebecca”.

I have best friends who are genuinely interested in my life, how I’m doing, what my goals are, and where I’m feeling on this spectrum of intense anxiety and depression.

I have an amazing boyfriend who has dealt with every instance of my thoughts betraying myself, who has stood by me as I question his feelings for me because I am too insecure to believe that he could actually care for me.

I have four walls surrounding me and a roof over my head. I have cats who check up on me when they hear my silently crying at night. I have a job that is keeping my head financially above water. I am getting an advanced education. I am healthy. I am surrounded by beauty. I have every reason to feel intense happiness, to be content.

But those dark clouds keep rolling in.

Those clouds tell me that mom and dad are sick of my mental disparities. My brother will only tell me I am doing great for so long, and does he really mean it? They tell me that my friends do not really care about me and my wellbeing. They tell me that my boyfriend is getting sick of me, is obviously going to leave me, and that it’s best to cut ties before you get hurt. Hurt yourself before anyone else can, right?

My thoughts are irrational and I am aware of this fact. I know that what they are telling me is not real, that they are wrong. But then why do I feel the sadness that they bring? If I can understand that the rain that falls from those clouds is just my depression creeping in, why do I let the feelings of dread, worthlessness, and sadness wash over me? How frustrating it is to be clued into what parts of your mind are lying to you, and yet still believe the emotions that they emit.

And this is why I’m mad. Mad at myself. Because I am allowing these beliefs, these thoughts, these lies overtake me. And I don’t know how to stop. And others are feeling at fault for my mood changes, and I’m angry that I’m allowing my own problems to create tears in relationships that I am so thankful for. I can’t stop this cycle and it hurts.

I once went to a psychic and she told me something I’ll never forget. She told me,

“Rebecca, why won’t you let yourself be happy? Someone could ask you to paint a room, all four walls. You’d finish and they would be so happy with how it came out, they would praise you for your hard work, and you would reply, “Yeah, it’s okay, but I didn’t paint the ceiling.”

My friends, my family, my boyfriend, they all ask me why I am so sad, if they are any cause of this despair that I drag along each day. My beautiful support system feels at fault and that hurts me.

I don’t know how to fix myself. But I’m working on it. But for now, I want to say something to those in my life:

Dear You,

I am sorry. I am so sorry that whatever is happening inside of my head is affecting our connection. I need you to know that you are not doing anything to make me feel like this. You are what is keeping me afloat.

To my family, I am sorry that I am so absent. I am trying my best to not allow my self-deprecation show, because I am embarrassed that I have come so far and have taken steps backwards. Thank you for always being there for me when I need it, and thank you for giving me my space when I’m not feeling like myself.

To my friends, I am sorry for my distance. I am sorry that I have not talked more to you about this. I am trying my hardest to figure it out. Thank you for your unwavering support for me and for always picking up your phone when I call.

To my boyfriend, I am sorry that this side of me has shown itself so early in our relationship. It is not something I was expecting to happen. Thank you for your acceptance of me in dark moments and for telling me that things like this aren’t going to make you run away.

Why is happiness so hard for me? Because I’ve got my arms spread out, with ropes tied around them; anxiety yanking one way, depression yanking me the other, both as hard as they can. My fists are clenched and I’m trying to break free, but sometimes they are stronger than me. Because I am not fully “better”, and I’m not sure I ever will be. Because trusting people is hard for me. Because I do not fully like who I am as a person.

But even when these dark clouds become so large that they haze over my eyes, I always manage to see some glimpse of light, a shimmer of gold reaching through. And that is enough to snap me out, to remind me that I will be okay.

So thank you. Thank you for always reaching out for me. Thank you for poking your head through the darkness, for cutting away at the ropes around my wrist. Thank you for your constant reassurance.

Thank you.

 


 

This honest reflection comes from Rebecca, who has submitted both art and a Coping entry to us before. In her own words:

“We are all continuous and beautiful works in progress”

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

Article dear hope