Saturday 20 May 2017

My Relationship With Social Media And My Mental Health

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I want to say I've grown up with the internet but technically I haven't. When I was younger, the internet wasn't really a thing. I grew up in a time where the only device connected to the internet was a huge computer in the office that you played computer games on. If you so dared as to go on to the internet you were faced with the screeching racket that was dial up. The actual pain was unbearable.

As I got older, technology progressed, so did the internet and along came social media. I was a little bit too young for MySpace or Bebo but I remember vividly creating my Facebook and Twitter accounts for the first time. Little did I know that they would take up such a massive part of my life all these years later. Then came Instagram, Snapchat and all the others who made a considerable effort but failed.

All these years later, social media is part of my job, I guess. If I want to get my voice heard in this fast paced industry, I have to tweet, post and share my life online. I have to promote my latest articles and posts. Share what I'm up to on Instagram stories and make sure I tweet and interact with everyone regularly. If I don't, I'll lose my place in this ever expanding community.

People are often quite quick to judge individuals who share a significant amount of their life online. Where are the boundaries? What even are the boundaries? Society also likes to focus on the negative impacts that social media can have on individuals especially young people lives. I recognised these negative aspects, however, social media as played such a big part in my life and has had such a positive impact, I think it's worth giving it the credit that it's due.

Without social media and the internet I wouldn't be blogging, and if I weren't blogging, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet or talk to some of the amazing people that I have met through blogging. Through Twitter, I have made lots of friends but also some very special friendships that I hope continue into the distance future. These people are my rocks. They are there to support me when I'm struggling, and I can equally support them. 

Without social media, I wouldn't be able to share my story. I wouldn't be able to raise awareness and help educate people about the reality of living with a mental illness. Selfishly, talking so openly about my mental health has helped me a lot. It's therapeutic writing all your thoughts and struggles down. Not to mention when people message me to tell me how much I've helped them realise they are not alone. They are not crazy, they are just struggling with their mental health, and that is okay. It gives me a really warm fuzzy feeling inside to know what a positive impact I have upon people's lives. 

Blogging about mental health so openly has helped me so much. Over the years I've gained so much confidence and has actually helped my mental health. It seems ironic, doesn't it? Writing about a topic that is particularly hard and very personal actually helps me, but it's true. Through blogging about my mental health, I have had so many fantastic opportunities that I am eternally grateful for but wouldn't be possible without social media.

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I've been able to work with some amazing brands some of whom have been mental health brands which have been a pleasure to work with. I've just got to write for some amazing mental health charities including OCD Action, Mind, Scope and Time to change. I do lots of volunteering with various mental health charities including OCD Youth and Student Minds, to help spread awareness and reduce the stigma around mental health.

As my blog has grown and found its firm place in the blogging community, I have been able to expand my brand further and start new projects with the same aim of my blog. Beautiful Minds; an online mental health magazine, a magazine which aims to be a diverse and inclusive space to allow people with real experience of mental health problems to speak openly and honestly about their struggles. To give practical advice to people just like them who are struggling with their mental health. I also now run my own Etsy shop selling mental health awareness stickers and prints to help reduce the stigma around mental health. 

Without social media or my blog, none of this would have been possible. Isn't that insane? Surely, you can only praise social media in this kind of instance. Campaigning and being a voice of change for mental health awareness is only something which can be celebrated and congratulated surely? 

Social media isn't all rainbows and unicorns. I'm fully aware of that for sure. I'm very fortunate to be part of an incredible community where everyone is understanding and supportive of each other, but I'm also fully aware that not everyone shares this agenda. When you put yourself out there, you make yourself vulnerable to people who don't agree with what you have to say. Not to mention people who just don't like you for no reason whatsoever. 

Living up to expectations and trying to consistently portray that you have a perfect life is another negative aspect of social media that needs to be taken into consideration. I guess I'm slightly biased in the fact that my job as a mental health blogger is to show people that my life isn't perfect and my mental health problems are very real problems and nothing to be ashamed about. As a result, I know and socialise with lots of other mental health bloggers in the virtual world so I guess I don't see as much of the high expectations others might online.

I think it's safe to say that without social media my life would be very different indeed. I know not everyone's experiences of social media are as positive as mine. However, I think it's important to recognise the good social media can have and not just the negative aspects which people tend to focus on.

Has social media had a positive or negative impact on your mental health? I would love to know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading, as always X

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