When I open my Instagram feed, I see a lot of happy people doing things I wish I could be doing. Someone’s getting coffee with a friend, someone’s checking out an interesting course, someone’s getting their nails done, someone’s on TV, and someone else has been offered a job.
What am I doing? I just got home from work and now I’m under my covers on my laptop, alone.
If my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter timelines were to be believed, everyone I know is floating on cloud nine. But that can’t be the case.
With 5% of Canadians with depression at any given time, that means I have roughly 29 Facebook friends with depression. They are more likely to be women and they most likely have not received treatment. They are feeling a lack of motivation and a loss in interest in things they used to enjoy. They feel lonely and isolated, and can’t concentrate. Some of them may feel suicidal.
If they’re like me, they feel like few people understand and even fewer are around to support them. They probably feel like they’re in an endless tunnel with no clue what’s at the other end. And they likely feel like it’s all their fault, there’s something wrong with them, and they should be ashamed of it.
The thing about social media is that people get to choose who they want people to see. We choose the best photos, write only the most impressive updates, and interact with everyone as though we are best friends. We can be good looking, popular, successful, and smart – and who wouldn’t want to be all those things?
I’m guilty of it too. We all do it. Though how do I feel when confronted with 528 “perfect” individuals every day? Inferior. Inadequate. Ugly. Unsuccessful. Unpopular. Boring.
You don’t have to have depression to feel this way, but if you do, it’s just another layer of dissatisfaction and loneliness to add to your toppling pile of worthlessness.
So, my 29 Facebook friends – my depression statistics, I’m hear to tell you that you’re not the only one.
You’re not the only one who struggles to find something positive to post or feel that punch in the gut when it looks like your friends are living a life you could only dream of.
And you’re not the only one who fights the fight offline. It’s always there. Some days are better than others, but when thing’s are good, we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
You’re also not the only one who’s afraid to talk about what’s going on for fear of being judged, pitied, dismissed, or treated differently. Putting yourself out there and your feelings on the line takes a lot of courage, but it usually results in something positive. The several times I have opened up to people in my life, I’ve been stunned to find out how willing they are to open up to me in return.
And my other 499 friends. Don’t forget to show some compassion, feel some empathy, and be kind. Everyone has a story and everyone is fighting a battle we could never imagine. Speak up for those who can’t and offer your support without being asked. For someone with depression, just a text message saying “I’m thinking of you” could make their entire day.
I’m not about to delete my social accounts; social media is practically my line of work and I believe in the good it can accomplish, but I do try to take it with a grain of salt. If it wasn’t for social media, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
So, I have one ask of you. Start to show your true self to the world, flaws and all. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Remove the filters.