I wanted to make a blog update about how I have stopped using social media and I wanted to use this as a diary and track my progress and hopefully inspire anyone who reads it. As many of you know, I have struggled so much with social media and its effects on my mental health. I used it addictively, I compared myself to people and I began to define myself and take on my online persona as if it was an extension of the real life. Five days ago, I deactivated my Facebook account after feeling triggered by pretty much everything on Facebook. I had done this before and only managed half a day to a day, I never made much progress. Sometimes I’d not post for a week but I’d still be on the site all day, scrolling or interacting in groups and continuing to be triggered by all the stimuli on my screen. But this time felt different, I have been having a mental health breakdown and something in me snapped and I felt that my sanity was at stake. That night I deactivated the account; my mind was racing so fast that I tossed and turned awake for nearly four hours, this was dire. I knew that social media didn’t cause my anxiety and leaving it wouldn’t cure it but it was a major stressor and it needed to be removed.
The first day or so, I was very anxious, I kept thinking about everything I was missing, I woke up and automatically thought to check my phone for notifications and of course none were there. I wondered if I had made a mistake, if I was going to log back in, I thought maybe it was a bad idea, I needed mental health support and all my “friends” were on there, I’d miss them. I wondered if they would notice that I was gone. I missed the validation, the attention, the feeling of having something to say and have people listen. I missed the likes and the comments and in thinking about it, I realized how little all of that meant. Reactions and comments have no value in the world, I haven’t achieved anything, it doesn’t get me closer to my goals or to making friends in the here and now. But yet I lived for it, to the point where it destroyed my mental health.
The more time away from social media I was, the clearer things became, I had insight. I was able to see that I, like everyone else, had created an online persona and I essentially believed my own hype, I was a mental health advocate, I was sensitive, I was altruistic, I lived to help others, it was total bullshit, At the end of the day, it was all about me, how much attention I could receive, painting myself in the best ( and most sympathetic light), it was all about being in the spotlight and I loved it. Is my story genuine? Yes. Are my feelings the truth? Certainly so. But my reasons for sharing them are questionable, even to myself. I got a certain reaction when I share certain things, so I continued, behavior reinforced. If I was depressed, I’d ramp it up, to get the validation I needed to make me feel heard. And Facebook and its algorithms enforce this narcissistic behavior; because that’s what it is narcissism is: obsession with self. The sadder you are or the angrier you get, the more Facebook show it in your followers newsfeeds, people love controversy. It hurts to write and it makes me sick but if I am to heal and grow as a person and be an advocate, I need to speak the truth, even if that truth is ugly. I am determined to do my part to spread the consequences on mental health from using social media sites, it’s serious. And I find it rather ironic to discuss mental health on a platform that is so detrimental to mental health.
But so far, there have been so positive effects, like I said earlier, I’ve gained insight and clarity as the days pass by. I am more focused and present where I am. When I am at home talking with my family, I never look at my phone and my mind is focused on what they are saying as opposed the need to constantly check social media hundreds of times a day. I am taking more walks, I am writing and blogging more. I am praying day and night, starting therapy and am sleeping better. I’ve even tried to read before bed, which is something I never did before. I never realized how distracted I was and what an effect that social media had on my moods and how I saw myself. Its only been five days but I feel proud of myself, I take it a day at a time. But I hope to use this experience to help others trapped in social media addiction. There is recovery, it’s hard as hell and it’s lonely at first but it’s worth it when you no longer compare yourself to other’s highlight reels, you no longer have to be something you are not to impress people you’ve never met and you can focus on those around you who are presently in your life. There is hope and hopefully together we’ll beat this. Who’s with me? Unplug and get your life back.