The Dear Hope Index

Below is a compiled list of every publication on Dear Hope, broken down into categories. 

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Creative Writing Pieces:

A poetry selection – Mashiro

A poetry selection – Mouse

A selection of poetry – Aisha Arif

An Aspiring Nihilist – Hannah Buckley

Arachnophilic – Danny Kochanowski

Binary – Paul Falcone

Dear Hope, Never Let us Part – Paul Falcone

Don’t – Caroline Koty

Don’t Give Up: A Day in The Life of Raili – Raili Tanska

Doubt: Sarah’s Poem – Kate Chandler

Dream/Nightmare – Zachary Johnson

Elevator – Paul Falcone

Escaping an Incoming Wave – Kate Chandler

Familiarity – R.E

Fin. – Thomas Finne

Floating/Drowning – Paul Falcone

Giving My Illness a Name – R.E

Graduation – Danny Kochanowski

Her – Alessandra Ortiz

How? – Angela McCrimmon

How I Feel – Paul Falcone

I Am – Paul Falcone

I Didn’t Want You to Know Because… – Morgan Stabile

I grew in the most unexpected of places – Skye (TPT)

Identity – Christian Dimare

In Defense of Poetry: A Coping Mechanism – Woody Woodger

Inner Demons – Jamie Haines

Keep Walking, Don’t Worry – Cal

Making it Real – Nicholas Woods

Medicine – Paul Falcone

Mental Suicide – Paul Falcone

Monday – Danny Kochanowski

Morning Routine: A Short Story – Alessandra Ortiz

Moving On: diary entries through the years – Stacy Wacks

Nervosa – Evan Crimmins

Nightingale – RJ Bingham

No Last Time – Hanna Lange

Outlooks – Paul Falcone

Painful Feelings – Elie Zimring

Part 1 – Ali Zagame

Part 2 – Ali Zagame

Pull the Trigger – Christian DiMare

quiescent ontogeny (shedding September skin) – Danny Kochanowski

Silence – Matthew Malin

Sleepless Nights – Paul Falcone

The Alpha and Omega of The Out of Body Girl – Joyce Hayden

The Lie that Ableism Feeds Us – Selissa Leonard

The Deadly Promise – Kelsey-Brooke Scheumann

The Fine Print – Kelsey-Brooke Scheumann

The Phone Rings – Paul Falcone

To My Ninth Grade Self – Becca W.

Unraveling The Stigma – Tiffany

“Unused Suicide Note” – A Look Back on The Night I Almost Took My Life – Morgan Stible

Watching Her Go – Kelsey

Windshield – Paul Falcone

you are loved – R.E

 

Photography/Art Showcases:

1 in 4: a selection from “Behind The Mask” – Rivka Korf

A Selection of Poems and Art After Losing My Daughter – Peter Bruun

“Almost” & “What Gets Me Through the Day – Ethar

An Unbreakable Cycle – Amelia A. J. Foy

“Confession Through Photograph” A Powerful Series on Depression, Death & Spirituality – Matthew Malin

Consumed: The Original Shot – Paul Falcone/Zach Johnson/Alyssa Rogalski

Dark Night of The Soul – Dave Carlin

Dysphoria and Self-Image: an artist’s depiction of struggle and recovery – Claire Frederick

Free Your Mind – Leandra Luizinho

Hazel Bloom: “Was It All Worth It” – Dave Carlin

Internalization – Gillian Maurer

It’s Not All In Your Head. Consumed: Mental Illness Through Photography – Paul Falcone/Zach Johnson/Alyssa Rogalski

Letting Go –  Greg Best

Life Pain – Donna Shell

Liminal creatures: Lorca the Papergheist and Artistry Through Agoraphobia – Lorca Jolene

Of Two Minds – Chris Eaton

Sabrina Kennedy’s “If Only” Music Video premier – Sabrina Kennedy

Still Fighting – Alessandra Ortiz

“Tension” – A Beautiful Discomfort – Corey Marsh

The Happiness Project – Zach Cooper

The Insecurity Project – Giana Murphy

The Next Step – Beth Gilbert

We Are All Continuous and Beautiful Works In Progress – Rebecca Divico

 

Coping: This is Who We Are Series:

Entry 1: Depression – Paul Falcone

Entry 1.5 : How My Depression Made Me Who I Am – Paul Falcone

Entry 2 – Depression and Faith, Finding Yourself Through Struggle – Haley Batchelder

Entry 3: From My Suicide Note to Now, A Heart Moving Outwards – Danny Kochanowski

Entry 4: Sleep On It – Cassandra Reitano

Entry 5: “We Are All Continuous and Beautiful Works In Progress” – Rebecca Divico

Entry 6: 1 in 4: How I Learned To Be A Survivor (And Learned To Live Again) – Alaina Leary

Entry 7: Surviving The Specter – Chris (Surviving The Specter)

Entry 8: Speak Up, Speak Loud: You Are Not Alone In Your Abuse – Jen Goehring

Entry 9: Depression & Belonging – Anonymous

Entry 10: “Guilt, Shame, and Hope” – Operahell

Entry 11: Navigating The Fog, My Journey To Accepting My Depression – Matt

Entry 12: A Story of Losing Something I Never Lost – Taylor Graff

Entry 13: Recovered and Still Struggling: Living Life Post ED – Kelly Griffin

Entry 14: Being a Twin With Anxiety: My Challenge With Isolation and Inadequacy – Pat Jost

Entry 15: When Good Grades Aren’t Enough: Mental Illness, Stress, and My Sexual Identity – Jacquelyn Pack

Entry 16: A Day Without Love: How My Depression Made Me Who I Am – Brian Walker

Entry 17: An Empty Home & An Empty Stomach: My Lifelong Struggle With Eating Disorders – Celeste Blodgett

Entry 18: A Journal On The Imperfections of Perfection – Kelly Sorge

Entry 19: Defining Normal: Finding Myself Through Depression and Hospitalizations Sandra Mercer

Entry 20: Depression, Faith & Isolation – Matthew Malin

Entry 21: Finding Home & Finding Myself: The Climb Back Up From Suicidal Thoughts – Stacy Wacks

Entry 22: The Violent Ward – Leif Gregersen

Entry 23: My Electro-Convulsive Treatment Experience – Fishspit

Entry 24: Confession of a Surviving Liar – Icess Fernandez Rojas

Entry 25: Highs and Lows: My journey with self-doubt, anxiety, and assault – Deanna Nesti

Articles:

A Message to Myself: It’s Not Your Fault Samantha B

A Phone Call To Connecticut, A Phone Call From Idaho – Paul Falcone

“Active Minds”: What Conversation Are We Changing? – Danny Kochanowski

An Emotional Letter From A Bipolar Mother To Her Children – Tessa Smeigh

Clean House – Anonymous

Dreamless/Sleepless: Does Dreaming Encourage Sleeping? – Paul Falcone

Dungeons and Dragons Gave Me My Life Back from Anxiety – Shane Pellitier

Eating Disorder Awareness Week: An Introduction – Danny Kochanowski

Extinguishing the Invisible Fire: Changing the Conversation on College Suicide – Danny Kochanowski

Forgotten Soldiers: Memorial Day, Veterans, & Mental Health – Amanda Canale

Friendship, Storytelling, and Mental Health – What I Learned After My Friends Recent Passing – Stacey Lehrer

Having Depression When Your Busy Life Slows Down – Paul Falcone

How I Learned Not to Romanticize Mental Illness – Alaina Leary

Hiding Visible Scars: Why I’m Glad Someone Asked Me The Difficult Questions Beth Teaque

I Wear a Mask Rebecca Divico

I’m Depressed: We Speak Our Own Language Paul Falcone

Insomnia: I Had A Dream I Fell Asleep Paul Falcone

Interview with the Artist: A Day Without Love’s “Solace” – Danny Kochanowski

Just Sit Back And Relapse Again – KaLeena Genette

Let’s Talk About Death: An Alternative Approach to Mental Health – Danny Kochanowski

Losing Your Mother to Mental Illness – Ariana Hegarty

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

On the Outside Looking In – Paul Falcone

Overbooked: Help Put On Hold – Paul Falcone

He Called Me The “T” Word. – Morgan Alyse

International Suicide Survivor Day – Amanda Canale

Mental Health, Music, and Community: An Interview With Sounds and Tones Records Paul Falcone

Mental Illness is Real: An Anti-April Fools Day Post Paul Falcone

Mental Illness: The Numbers Paul Falcone

My Journey Accepting Bipolar Disorder: I Don’t Need to Be Medicated – Anonymous

My Mental Illness Is Part of Me, But Not Who I Am Paul Falcone

My Reflection: Days and Nights With My Eating Disorder – Morgan Alyse

Questions as Daggers, Questions as Saviors Sandra Mercer

Rid The Stigma: Using Mental Illnesses as Adjectives Paul Falcone

Smoke Detectors: An Evolutionary Silver Lining Behind Anxiety – Danny Kochanowski

Societal Stigmas, Gender Norms, and their Effect on Mental Health – Amanda Canale

The Bell Jar Paul Falcone

The First (Last) Step: Asking For Help Paul Falcone

The Many Forms of Self Harm – Paul Falcone

The Unpredictability of Anxiety Ian Fullbrook

Treasure Map to Confidence – Sydney

We Are The Same –  Paul Falcone

What Are Eating Disorders? Danny Kochanowski

Why is Happiness so Hard? Rebecca Divico

World Suicide Prevention Day: a conversation – Sandra Mercer

 

Thanks to every single person around the world who was a part of this community. 

Always remember you are not alone. You are loved. 

PF

 

 

dear hope

Floating/Drowning

Click.
Each letter on the keyboard is a new hook in the sand.
An anchor to tether this vessel to something
Resembling a foundation that isn’t cracked
And leaking.

Why can’t you write something without water imagery?
Because my melatonin dosage has changed
From powdered pills to bleeding ink
And I don’t think I’ve yet found a better way
To articulate,
I’m drowning.

I’m still drowning.

And I will float endlessly until acted upon
Saving whatever kinetic energy
I can muster, to start moving
And keep moving

Stop.

No,
Please don’t let me stop.
Momentum is birthed by variables
And stars far outside my reach right now

So push me,
I won’t push back
In fact my arms will be open,
Grasping the waves to try and grab hold
Of something that can hold the weight.

But each day it grows.
And each day it spreads.
More than I would care to admit.

These waters are so cold,
But they’ve stitched me a blanket
That everyday seems more familiar
And as I lay afloat in the dead of night
I can hear waves
Quietly whispering “home”.

PF


 

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

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Creative Pieces dear hope

The Happiness Project – Dear Hope Premiere

Dear Hope is proud to premier “The Happiness Project” by Zach Cooper. Find the video and a little passage from Zach himself below.

“My inspiration behind this video was to give people a break from all the negativity they constantly see on all social media platforms on a daily basis. It also serves as a friendly reminder that you don’t need to travel the world or spend a ton of money to find happiness in your life. You can find happiness in your daily routine, or with someone you love, or just being in a space you love to be in and I tried to capture that with everyone that was in front of my camera. I also wanted this video to be something you can watch if you’re down and out about life to hopefully bring a smile to your face.

I won’t lie this video came with a lot of different challenges, like finding people to actually film. Countless amounts of people showed interest but we either couldn’t meet up because of scheduling conflicts or for some other reason. Not to mention I ended up moving out of my hometown and had to make new connections and friends to film while this project was already moving along.

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I can’t thank the people that were willing to be a part of this enough. I especially thank the people of New York City that would meet me in random spots throughout the city to film for an hour that had no idea who I was at first but we ended up forming friendships out of this and I love that. Life is moving at an incredibly fast pace and I hope this video slows you down and you take a moment to enjoy it, enjoy where you are and the people who are there with you.

Lastly, I thank Dear Hope and my good friend Paul for listening to this idea in it’s very early stages and having enough patience to let it fully bloom into what it’s become.”

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Leave some comments below for Zach and check out his other work!

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF


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

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A Lens Into Our World dear hope

Poetry: “Don’t” by Caroline Koty

Don’t
The shiny metal that kisses your skin
So sweetly
So precisely
The crimson that trickles like a flowing river
The moisture that lets me know I’m still breathing
The cold soft touch of the blade
The pressure that sends relief
The pain escaping from within and moving to out
Your soul is unleashing the chains
Your arm is releasing the pain
Hurt
The soul was so hurt it couldn’t manage
It could not use the positive self talk
The meditation
The therapy
The soul was consumed
Consumed by the “me toos”
The what ifs
The you’re weak
Something you put everything into and received nothing from
The body was calm
Floating in an abyss of carefree concerns
But the the body awoke
Gushing excretion from its veins
Screaming to be wanted
To be caressed to be appreciated
The body wanted everything the soul never knew existed


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Thanks to Caroline for sending in this poem. Leave a comment below about what you think!

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

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Creative Pieces dear hope

Debut Music Video From Hazel Bloom: “Was It All Worth It” – Dear Hope Premiere

Before we premiere the video, Dave Carlin, the singer and songwriter of Hazel Bloom, wanted to open up about his past struggles and the inspirations for the song and debut album, Temporary.

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 I first started writing songs for this album about a year and a half ago during one of the most emotionally draining periods of my life. I was dealing with depression, anxiety, and derealization, which felt like they were deteriorating my body. I was undergoing these symptoms for about 6 months before I even knew what was happening to my health. I had just ended a seven year long relationship and lost a good friend in a car accident. I spent a third of my life with this person, so it was a huge impact on my mental health to lose them. I always imagined that losing a friend would be difficult, but you never really feel the full emotion of it until it happens.

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I’ve always had trouble with these kinds of difficult situations. It was hard for me to express how I was feeling, and I bottled up a lot of emotion, which lead to a lot of unhealthy choices. I was drinking almost every night, sleeping most of the day and was late to work consistently. I was completely focusing all my efforts into forgetting and keeping my mind off of the past. I rarely expressed my thoughts and because of this, I caused a lot of problems in past relationships and friendships.

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I spent seven years with a person I considered my best friend. From the ages of 14 to 21, I was growing into myself and finding what it was I was passionate about. From a teenager to an adult, I spent almost all of this time with one person, and it was extremely hard to cope with removing them from my life. It took a huge toll on my health, and my mental stability. Some of the best times of my life were with this person and I became so comfortable that I thought it was impossible to live without them.

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So, I decided that writing this album would be a good way to express my feelings about situations I’ve been holding on to for so long and finally start to let go. I could place my feelings and thoughts over the past years into this album as part of a healing process that I would be able to look back on. I’d be able to look at how much I’ve grown over time and be able to remember the good times – not just the bad ones. It’s been almost 3 years, and some of the feelings still eat me alive from time to time, but I’m making progress.

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My friend, Mike Hazel, who passed away in January of 2016 had a huge influence on this album and band. He was always into the music scene and I knew he wanted to be in a band which is something I could really relate with. He’s also the reason why I named the project ‘Hazel Bloom’. I wanted to create a type of art that resonates not only his presence but for anyone that has ever lost somebody or something. Even though they are not in this life anymore, I wanted to make something that still projects their presence; something to show that they still are making an impact on people in a positive way and to show that their presence. They are still in ‘Bloom’.

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‘Temporary’ is what I decided to call this album/ art project I’ve been working on. As I mentioned before, when I started writing this, I was going through some very mentally strenuous times. But as time progressed I discovered a platform I could use to help me express myself, and things seem to be getting a lot better. My depression and anxiety seemed to be subsiding and I began feeling happy in my skin again. I’ve been working on talking about stressful and uncomfortable situations and I think it’s made me a healthier person. This made me think that even though things were dark for a while, those feelings are all temporary.

The other half of why I named this album Temporary is because I’ve had a lot of relationships, partnerships, and friendships fall apart. Countless people have come in and out of my life, some good and some not so great. But I’ve learned to cherish all those people as I’ll never know when they could disappear from my life. Although I don’t talk or see most of those people anymore, I like to remember all the great times I had with them. I wouldn’t change any of them for anything,. Those people and experiences help make me who I am today and I am very grateful for those experiences and those people.

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Album art for the upcoming album, “Temporary”.

Most of all, I want anyone who encounters my art to be able to feel something. Whether this art brings back good experiences and memories or makes you cherish the people and experiences you have now, I hope you can feel it.

Because I know sometimes when you feel lost and it’s hard to feel any emotion at all.


View the brand new debut video from Hazel Bloom: “Was It All Worth It” below. And be sure to check out the full album Temporary when it releases later this year on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

The photos in this article were taken by the wonderful Giana Murphy. Check out her own post, The Insecurity Project, for Dear Hope here.

Video shot and edited by Zach Cooper. Find him on Instagram here.

Follow Hazel Bloom on Twitter and Facebook.

Always remember that you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

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

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Article dear hope

The Many Forms of Self Harm

**Trigger warning: self harm

It’s been over a year since I last wrote something down for this site. I’ve been thinking and reflecting a lot lately, however, and feel I’ve come to a new understanding about myself personally that I just needed to write down somewhere.

I’m incredibly self-destructive in ways that I never really realized.

It’s a weird thing to say out loud. I never really considered myself to be someone who was that self-destructive, but there are certain patterns and habits I’ve developed over the years, including how I run this site, that make me realize that I’m self-sabotaging in ways a few years ago I would’ve never even acknowledged.

It’s seeing an email come in about someone submitting to the site, and deciding to wait to answer it.

It’s getting this website to a point where it could really grow into something even bigger, and then stepping back and not following through.

It’s having years of experience writing music, but feeling anxious and afraid every time I try to write something new.

It’s becoming less personal with friends after they’ve seen certain parts of you, parts that you tell others it’s okay to show.

It’s having a skill set and numerous talents that you stop pursuing because you’re bored.

It’s limiting the jobs you apply to because your head constantly tells you that you’re not good enough to do the jobs you know you’re qualified for.

It’s self-harm without the actual physical pain. 

It’s all of these small actions and thoughts amplified over time, building and building until you’re left with a scar when you weren’t even aware there was a wound to begin with. I’ve been self-harming for years and wasn’t even aware of it.

And I feel so incredibly empty right now from it.

We have a tendency to think of self-harm in a very specific blade-on-skin kind of way. But the truth of the matter is that self-harm can encompass all different kinds of self-destructive behavior. The depression and anxiety in my life that I identify with definitely aid in these recurring behaviors. It’s a reminder that I’m still struggling every day, and I’m trying to find new ways to push forward. It’s all I can do with this new information I know about myself.

Because honestly I’m not too sure what else to do.

But there’s always the comfort in knowing that I’m not alone.

And you’re not alone.

You are loved.

Paul Falcone

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

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Article dear hope

Dysphoria and Self-Image: an artist’s depiction of struggle and recovery

My name is Claire Frederick. I’m an incoming senior in Painting at Maine College of Art (MECA) in Portland, ME. I live in the city with my cat, Glitter, who is my therapy kitty. I have clinical and seasonal depression, an anxiety disorder, sleep issues, and am a recovered self harmer and anorexic.

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Claire Frederick

I have always been someone that tries to handle my mental health on my own; even at my lowest lows I have refused outside help. It wasn’t until I was outside the United States (Italy and Greece) in my worst manic depressive and anxious episode that I realized I needed support from professionals and medication. It was more than situational; it was chemical. It took multiple tries to find the pills that worked for me, but I found them.

Presently, I still have my days, but I am the strongest and happiest I have ever been. As an artist with mental illness and queer identity, it is my mission to spread awareness through visual art by both personal and relatable imagery. To me, it is important for people to understand the vast diversity that mental illness takes form, and that most times it’s not “standard.” Even with all of its idiosyncratic identities, there are others out there that feel like you.

Talking to friends, family, strangers, and or professionals can be so beneficial to find peace of mind. Literally. There are people that want to help and support you, as well as, well as ways to find personal positivity and release the negative. For me, finding an outlet and profession in visual art has saved my life. I am also forever grateful for my support system: my family, girlfriend, friends, and professionals. We all have a reason to believe, to keep moving forward; it’s always out there.

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“Disphoria” Artist Statement: The use of line in the exploration of the female figure formally investigates the structure and planar shifts of the body. These lines are formulated in an almost topographical way, and are treated with translucent waves of desaturated color. The earthy, yet bruise-like palette alludes to nature in the same way the body becomes geography. By using wet-on-wet techniques, the paint creates its own forms; the pen is then used to take back control, separating the values and hues. Steering away from the composure of traditional portraiture, I repeat, deconstruct, and reinvent the female figure to achieve an emotional and psychological experience, mimicking feelings of dysphoria associated with my mental illness.

 

Tired Girls Club

Tired Girls Club
Watercolor on 300lb paper
2016

 

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Ghost:
Deconstruction of the Hand
Watercolor on 300lb paper
2016

A Lens Into Our World Artwork dear hope

Introducing Our New Editor-in-Chief: Sandra Mercer

Hello everyone!

I’d like to take a moment to introduce our newest team member, Sandra Mercer. She will be serving as the new editor-in-chief for Dear Hope!

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Sandra will now be the head editor managing all the submissions that come into Dear Hope. Please give her a warm welcome! She has been a member of our community for a long time, and recently submitted the article “Questions as Daggers & Questions as Saviors. She also wrote a Coping piece for us last year. Be sure to give them a read.

This is the start of a relaunching period for Dear Hope. Be ready for lots of new content and art in the coming weeks. (If you’ve been thinking of sending us something to publish, now is a great time!)

Always remember that 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

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dear hope

Windshield

Go ahead
and ask for help
Or confuse your pride
with strength again.

Progress is perspective.
And now the flames are close
as you ran
all the way inward.

Preaching about hope,
While letting ice
grow thick on windshields.
Driving through the night
with the defrost set on zero.

You feel welcome in the cold
As if you were born in it
It’s the extremes that you feel
It’s not the small talk conversation

It’s the knowledge and the worth
You fought to have and threw away
Locked the key and dug your grave
In a cemetery unmarked

When it could have been vandalized with art
But you refuse to acknowledge that
Your brain that used to flourish
Is now a maze you can’t figure out

But walls are only meaningful
if you know what’s inside.
And rusted gears will turn
Until there’s nothing left to try.

PF

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

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Creative Pieces dear hope

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.

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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.

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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.

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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


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