Social Media Hell
At the time of writing this I have just come out to my friends and family on Facebook that I have been struggling with social anxiety and depression. I hate Facebook, it fills me full of anxiety and pressure knowing that everyone I know is looking at what I say and judging me for it. Most people may not succumb to this pressure or even feel it, but I feel every second of it. My heart races, my hands shake and I sweat. Butterflies emerge in my stomach leaving me to feel like they are sensing the panic in my body and trying to vacate the premises. I bet they are all thinking “why do I care if you have mental health issues?” or “yeah right, attention seeker!” It never dawns on me that many may prefer to watch a video of a cat dancing than read my post. It doesn’t even occur to me that I may even get the support from all those close to me.
As I nervously scroll down the page reading everyone else’s posts about the great day they have been having with their friends my mood shifts suddenly. Instead of being hyper vigilant of any criticism I may receive online my world begins to darken and dim. My heart rate slows, my breathing steadies and my shaking ceases. I now feel numb, like I am incapable of feeling at all. What all my friends and family think of me now does not matter. I begin to realise that none of them are my friends or my loved ones, they hate me. My mood sinks further as this realisation hits and with that the numbness turns into despair and pain. My life has no worth, no meaning, no future. I have nothing to contribute to this life so why even bother continuing? The world will keep spinning, the seasons will keep changing, the cycle of life and death continues and I cannot influence it. If I was no longer here nothing would change.
With that thought I slump to the floor, crying in agony and with all the strength I have left. Facebook no longer matters to me, I don’t matter. With those thoughts, I cry violently with guilt. How could I ever think such a thing? What about my mum, my dad or my boyfriend? They would hate me for these thoughts, I hate me for them. Those people now begin to dominate my thoughts and bring raw emotion with them. “I’m a horrible person, I would ruin everyone’s lives if I…” I can’t even finish the sentence without more tears.
I lay on the floor for some time, letting all my emotions spill out of me until there is nothing left to feel. I sit up feeling exhausted, thirsty and numb. As I get up to go get some water I walk past my laptop still on, still displaying the Facebook page that earlier filled me with dread. As I sit down to examine my very personal post on Facebook my anxiety resurfaces. My once numb and exhausted body springs into action creating many of the symptoms that plagued me before. “I wonder if I have any comments? I wonder if anyone even saw my post?” At first I feel nervous but hopeful and wanted to seek support from others. However once I begin to find my post my heart fills with dread. What if they say something bad about me? My anxiety increases, I begin to fear seeing the post. I do not want to look at it as I feel tearful but I need to know. If I don’t look my mind will interpret it for me, there has got to be something positive there right?
I pull up the page while nearly running away from my laptop. My post received two likes. Two likes? What does that even mean? They like the fact I have social anxiety and depression? My mind races with hundreds of thoughts which consume my entire consciousness. I sit there for a good few minutes assessing what those likes meant and what the consequences are for them. “Does this mean I’m going to get special treatment from people? Pity and sympathy? Or now that everyone knows will they stigmatise me? Put me into a category and be too afraid to talk to me about it? The result of those two likes are endless, and ironically too complex for my socially anxious mind to estimate. So why do I waste so much time worrying about how others see me? And why does something as trivial as a Facebook post influence my mood so much?
What I have just described to you is the experience of someone with co-occurring social anxiety and depression. You see, co-morbidity is more than just having two disorders at once it creates a whole new experience for the person. Each disorder toxically feeds into one another in order to influence the person’s everyday experiences in very unpredictable ways. I initially posted on Facebook to increase awareness about mental health and promote my YouTube channel to my friends and family. Although I had good intentions to begin with just this simple act sent me into a spiral of anxiety and depression I could have never predicted.
I’m sure many other people have had similar yet different experiences with co-morbid mental health problems as it is common but very individualised. However it is rarely recognised quickly enough by professionals and there is little knowledge in the public domain about comorbidity. Hopefully this essay will give you greater insight into the personal experience of co-morbid mental health issues. But just remember although individuals like myself can be very up and down at times, sometimes highly attentive or far away from this world. We go through the same ranges of emotion as you do, but possibly just in a more extreme form.
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My name is Jess, I am 19 and I live in the UK. I am currently a psychology student and I have now completed my training to become a mental health professional trained in treating anxiety and depression. Ironically enough I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder in October 2014 at the start of my second acedemic year. In early 2015 I was diagnosed with depression also. I know aim to spread knowledge and awareness about mental health on my youtube channel. If we stand strong together we can create a force to be reckoned with.
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