In relative terms, social media is new and we’re all still finding our feet with it. It’s a funny ol’ concept, people tend to either love it or hate it. Whilst it often gets quite a negative rap in the media, for those of us who are living with mental ill health, it can act as our window into the outside world.
Those of us who have experienced depression understand how isolating the illness can be. We crave connection yet we feel we have nothing much to offer. Added to that is the confusion about how we’re feeling, depression is interchangeable, frightening, all-consuming and can be extremely difficult to express to others. 57% of those who’ve experienced depression isolate themselves from their friends and family. 62% of people think technology helps them to keep in touch with people who they might otherwise lose touch with.
We Can Stay Up To Date
We can use social media to stay up to date with news. Reading updates on social media can take a lot less energy that reading full newspaper or magazine articles. We can tailor our feeds to only show the areas of life that we’re interested in.
As well as staying up to date with current affairs, we can also stay up to date with our friends. We can see lots of people’s updates in one go, which can take less energy than having lots of individual conversations.
Staying up to date can be helpful because it means that when we do see friends and family in person, we can join in with bits of conversation. We don’t feel quite so alienated and isolated.
We Can Passively Participate
One of the great things about social media, is that we can feel involved without having to do anything. If we don’t have the energy or brain space to think of things to post, it doesn’t matter. We aren’t on any sort of time clock. We don’t have to post a certain number of times a day. We can choose when, and if, we check in. It gives us a sense of control at a time where so many things feel out of our control.
If we’re not up do actively getting involved in anything – that’s absolutely okay! We can watch what’s going on. We can share other people’s posts and ideas if they’re able to put into words the things that we can’t. It can be a very low-energy, low-brain-power way to stay connected with the world.
We Don’t Have To Get Dressed
When we only have so much energy, we have to be a little bit careful about where we spend it. Getting dressed and ready to leave the house can take a huge amount of energy. Meeting up with a friend for an hour one day, might take all of our energy for the entire day (and sometimes wipes us out the next day, too). Social media allows us to interact with the outside world without having to worry about showering, looking presentable, and leaving the house on time. The energy that we save can go into maximising our self-care.
We Can Update Lots Of People At Once
There are times when we want to tell our friends and family about something going on in our lives. It could be something happy such as a new job or an engagement. Or it could be something less good. We might feel like we need to explain our absence, or something like that. We could be going into hospital for a little while and want everyone to know in one go.
Whatever it is, social media can allow us to tell loads of people something at the same time. This can take a lot less energy than messaging everyone individually. It can also mean that if people do have any questions, we only have to answer each question once instead of multiple times.
Sometimes we go through a phase where our unread messages are stacking up and we don’t have the ability to process them and reply at the moment. We can do one post to everyone letting them know that we’re not ignoring them and will reply when we can.
Talking To Strangers Can Be Easier Than Talking To Friends
There are times when it can be a real struggle to talk to our friends or family. We don’t want to hurt them. We don’t want to worry them. Conversations can be frustrating because we feel like they don’t understand us (and they might feel like we’re not listening). Sometimes interacting with strangers can be easier. We might find others who’re on our wavelength or have similar experiences to us. They can understand where we’re coming from. This can be supportive and help us to feel a little less ‘different’ and isolated.
We Can Choose When We’ve Had Enough
When we’re at a social gathering, it’s not always easy to leave when we’ve had enough. This can be tiring and anxiety provoking. It can mean that we push ourselves too far.
With social media, we have a little more control over who we interact with and how long for. We can follow and unfollow people and brands as we please. We can turn things on and off whenever we like, without offending anyone. This allows us to participate with the world, within our current limits.
Be Kind To Yourself
Living with depression, and being isolated, can feel awful. Some days, we’re up to interacting with others, and other days we want to hide away from the world. Social media can be a great window into the world, but it can also become overwhelming. It’s important that we try and unfollow anything and anyone that we’re finding unhelpful. It’s also important to notice if we’re using social media so much that it’s making our mental health worse. It can be quite a fine balancing act, but we’re never, ever alone. There are so many others who are also trying to navigate this balance. Be kind to yourself.
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