Social media is often seen as a horrible thing separating my generation from the others. There are many articles saying that it reduces social interaction, fuels cyber bullying, and is what is “wrong with kids my age.” Insert eye roll. Like everything in the world, social media has its good and bad flaws. There are not as many good flaws represented in the media about social media though. The bad seems to be published everywhere, so here is one example of the good social media brings.
Blogging has brought me a lot of joy. I’ve grown as a writer and developed computer skills I thought were never achievable. The online world has also led me to meet some of the greatest people I know. The best part is when they’re in the same niche as me. A couple weeks ago I met Ella through a networking Facebook page, Millennial Marketers. We’ve talked a lot about what it means to be a mental health blogger: how we write, how we pick our topics and reaching out to others. It has been fun to see how we both blog in different ways about the same topic. Social media and mental health go hand in hand. We came up with a couple of questions and decided to figure out what aspects of social media we truly love.
I am 19 years old and I am currently studying sociology and psychology so I can go to University. Have been blogging for 3 years now, and I have had severe anxiety and issues surrounding my mental health for nearly 4 years. I blog about my journey with mental illness and anxiety and share my view on other topics too, from books to gender equality.
My aim is to find light in the darkness that mental illness and anxiety cast on my life, though at my worst I can’t do much, I can write.
What made you start your blog?
Ella– My mental illness was why I began my blog, when my anxiety first hit 4 years ago I quite quickly deteriorated and was stuck inside and in my room if not all the time. I began my blog as something to do, and as a way to express my feelings without having to say it aloud. At first for example my blog was something nobody knew about, I kept it entirely private, it was an outlet for my feelings.
Kate- I just wanted a place to keep all of my writing. Since mental health is such a big part of my life it didn’t take long for it to be seen through my posts. I had no idea it would be where it is now and I get to celebrate one year of blogging next month!
In what ways do you connect with others on social media?
Ella- I have used social media to connect with people in many ways, this has been on a business level in regards to reviews. As well as via Skype on a personal level – I have built some of my closest friendships online. I speak to people online each day both publicly and privately, I text friends I have met online, and I also Skype and call friends in other countries, such as Kate. I think I use every possible way to talk to people online through all platforms.
Kate– I use all social media platforms to connect with others. Facebook has given me so many more friends than I could have imagined. This has lead to growing my other platforms and following many other blogs within my niche or completely different. I have even sent out letters to some people!
Has your social media presence improved your mental health?
Ella- Yes. Undeniably. My anxiety is built around a self concept, this means that ultimately I receive all of my validation externally and struggle to validate myself. My blog and social media presence has demonstrated to me, though I am working on believing it, that people care. It has reminded my mind at its worst that I am good enough as these people online choose me and read my work.
Kate- Of course. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. All of it has helped me so much. It has also taught me a lot. It’s reduced my career stress, given me friends, and a purpose. I can reach out and explain that my anxiety is bad that day and all of a sudden I have a handful of people asking how they can help.
Has social media negatively affected your mental health?
Ella- For me the negatives of social media are closer to home. My blog and social media of people online I have not met doesn’t negatively impact me almost ever. However, social media surrounding friends who are local and peers who are not necessarily friends but I follow certainly causes a strain. I feel that the negative effects come when my feed contains those who feed my insecurities and negative validation.
Kate- I think that seeing the stigma come up sometimes is hard. When someone says something os “bipolar” or that they’re so “depressed” because they have a test tomorrow. It can be hard to see that and realize that others don’t understand the meanings behind those words.
Why do you enjoy being a mental health blogger?
Ella- I enjoy being a mental health blogger as it gives me purpose. It gives me meaning and it allows me to advocate for a change and progress regarding something I am very passionate about. Gives me a voice that can be heard beyond my bedroom. It validates me, and reminds me I am worthy.
Kate- The people I met are so amazing! Having my articles read by others that go through some of the same issues I go through is assuring. We are able to build a community and support each other through each of our own internal battles. That along with website design, media engagement, and creating on various medias gives me direction.
What’s your favorite part about the mental health community online?
Ella- My favourite part about the mental health community online is the level of love and compassion. I have found so many wonderful people via blogging and my social media platforms I use to advocate and share my story on. Primarily twitter there are so many people on there that I know would support me in a crisis. It’s the level of trust and love online, there truly is no judgement with the right people and friendships.
Kate- It’s a much different vibe than an in person mental health group. It’s more honest and I don’t know if that’s because of the anonymity behind it, but there’s so much truth spoken. I also get to connect with more people that have similar experiences than me when I don’t get that in a face to face group. Also I met one of my best friends from England which would have never happened without the internet.
Through the good and bad, I have chosen to continue being on social media. Without it I would not have friends in England, Canada, or Australia and I wouldn’t change them for the world. If you are interested in mental health blogs be sure to check out all of Ella’s platforms. We also collaborated on a post for her blog about the meaning of words. You can read that here. It was a really fun post to put together.
She also is a host for a weekly mental health chat every Thursday at 2pm EST, 7pm GMT. Be sure to join in to see the topic of the week around mental health. You are able to participate or just sit back and watch everyone share their voice about their experiences. I had the ability to guest host on the 27th and I really enjoyed being able to connect with others.