Authenticity, mental health, and social media

I recently saw a post from a friend of mine in the Atlanta area. It started out, “The more I see my friends (especially male friends) sharing their mental health struggles and reaching out, the more inclined I am to do the same.” He proceeded to talk of his own struggles with depression.

Scrolling just a few posts later, a friend in southeast Alabama shared a post from a veteran’s page listing phone numbers to specific helplines – suicide, eating disorder, addiction, transgender suicide, domestic violence, etc.

These posts reminded me of something that has been on my mind recently regarding authenticity and social media, especially as it relates to mental health.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve seen previous posts about mental health and my personal struggles with depression. A lot of the past five-ish years have been rough, and earlier this year, it got really bad again.

Lately, I’ve actually been in a pretty good head space. I’m fully aware that things could change for the worse at any moment, but I’m enjoying the good days while they’re here and appreciating them. Gotta say, it’s nice. And I hope my friends are able to get to a better head space soon.

Another thing that I discuss on this blog periodically are my thoughts on authenticity, and this one photo has been popping into my head recently. The photo and my thoughts surrounding it, along with the posts mentioned above, made me think I should finally take a few minutes to put these thoughts on paper – or the digital equivalent.

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That photo was taken almost three years ago now – Christmas night 2016. After the family gathering during the day, I went over to hang out with some friends. Good times. A great way to end the holiday – laughter and friendship.

What that photo doesn’t tell you is that in that same night, just a little bit prior to that photo being taken, I had a full-on crying fit breakdown in that very kitchen in front of those very people.

That photo doesn’t show that I was in a deep depression at the time. It doesn’t reveal how I spilled it all about how I didn’t want to live, while one of my friends wrapped their arms around me and held me.

We have a tendency to post the good times and not the bad, and hey, I encourage you all to definitely celebrate the good times. Post away! But I also think it’s important once in a while to remind ourselves that much of what we’re seeing is fake. It’s a pretty facade that covers the despair.

I think it’s natural for us to compare our lives to what we’re seeing, even unconsciously, but again, much of what we see is not real, or at least not the whole story.

I know that not everyone feels comfortable being public about their struggles, and that’s OK. If you’re able to “fight in the open,” go for it. If you’re not at a place where you feel comfortable doing so, reach out to a close friend. Or hey, there’s a contact form on this website – I’ll email you back.

Bottom line: remember that much of social media is fake; you are loved; and check on your friends (yes, even your strong friends.) This time of year is difficult for a lot of people. And I’m sure they will appreciate hearing from you.

Thanks for reading. Much love.

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