Social Media and Me
Social media has been a massive reason for my depression. I got internet in 2009 and was able to make friends around the world which was nice but seeing how my friends in the first world nations could do stuff I could only dream off or wish I had was hard.
My European friends who were my age could travel easily to many countries. Something I as a secondary school student couldn’t afford. They also seemed to have life easier. American friends seemed to have more open-minded and tolerant parents whereas mine were pretty closed-minded. Pretty easy to be envious and ask why not me? One time when I was younger, I was trying to keep up with my foreign friends; I was reckless with money. Didn’t save, would eat only tic tacs, wouldn’t put on lights, would collect water at a standpipe just to have more money at my disposal.
I had a significant other at the time from Europe it was a long-distance relationship and she didn’t have to do what I was doing to “have a good time.” I basically destroyed that relationship because I was envious and angry at her for not having my hardships.
I’ve since gotten over that though but nowadays I always thought of myself as an average looking person but since I’ve more been interested in makeup these days and when I see some of these Instagram girls, even my own friend posted a picture recently that had me in a crying mess because she looks like a Barbie. I would compare myself and think I have a huge forehead, fish eyes where one is bigger than the other, an overjet and a man jaw. It caused my self-esteem to plummet. I’ve been entertaining thoughts of plastic surgery. I’ve been very envious of female celebrities because in my mind they’re the ones that “good men want” while people like me are stuck with the bad ones.
So yeah, social media has been catastrophic for my mental health.
How Social Media Affected Me
I am a 31 year-old wife and mother of one son. I live a very lonely and simple life but I’m severely introverted and despise going out in public.
Prior to the social media era, when I was a preteen and entering my early teens (about 12 years old), my mother would hide all of her Essence, Sophisticate’s Black Hair and Ebony magazines from me because I would compare myself to the women who graced the covers and pages within. Despite her efforts, I would find them in bookstores, groceries and libraries and leaf through the pages, comparing myself to those women, from the very first strand of my hair to the last toenail on my toes. Aside from that, I was bullied about my looks, body shape, and weight every day at school. I emotionally binged on snacks and fatty foods to fill the void of feeling isolated and alienated from my peers and even family. I was being called an ugly, fat racist slurs by my then stepmother, among other names, every day. The mental negative self-talk began as just a soft voice I heard a few times a month.
Enter the age of social media. I was 19 years old and eager to add all of my past classmates and distant family members and also make new friends. Soon, I was sucked further into the downward spiral of comparison. I was now comparing myself to women, some a bit older and a bit younger than me, but mostly who was in my age bracket, whether I knew them personally or not. I would stay up late at night, perusing photos and taking mental notes of what these women looked like, and what I looked like. Soon, it became a part of my daily routine. I would compare myself to people on social media and when I went out. Eventually, I began feeling ashamed of myself, my body and weight. I stopped going out at all, unless it was absolutely necessary. I would stay in and just scan photos all day.
As I grew older (late 20’s), the mental negative self-talk was a daily thing now and it was constant. I couldn’t switch it off. I would scroll through Facebook and Instagram and hear the voice saying “Look how slim and pretty she is. And you’re so fat and ugly. Have you looked in the mirror lately?” And “Do you see how lithe and elegant she looks in that outfit? You could never with your big, nasty belly and slobby, shapeless body.” I would beat myself up in the head and pull out my hair when I became fed up of how inadequate I felt and how I looked. Thus came the onset of chronic depression.
The birth of my son just made things worse in that aspect. When I got dressed to go outside or to work, I would look in the mirror and think so negatively about myself. I would tell myself “people are surely laughing at you.” I would look at all the celebrities and my peers post pregnancy bodies or snap backs, as they are affectionately called, and would look at my fat shapeless body, flabby arms, ugly face, funny shaped butt and stick legs and say to myself that I looked worse off than I did before. The isolated life I was living just became worse. I was convinced that people in the street were pointing at me and laughing behind my back. I wouldn’t even go to family gatherings. And If I was forced to go, I would hide in corners and bedrooms or in the dark, if the event was at night.
Now, all I do is compare myself to others. It has become a parasite inside and outside my body. The self-talk is always negative. If anyone gives me a compliment, I call them liars to their face or laugh at them or both. I try to avoid being in the outside world at all costs. I am ashamed of myself, body, weight and life. Social media for me was and is a window that shows me that everyone looks better than me and that their life is way better than mine with their nice jobs, clothes, cars, homes and trips. I am seeing a therapist for my depression and self-esteem but it isn’t helping much. I just feel so hopeless and inadequate all of the time. My mother has tried telling me to take a very long break from social media but it’s so hard to close those open windows. It’s like an addiction to a drug. I crave it, indulge in it and become high off it but it’s destroying me and my quality of life more and more.