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When Getting Stuck in a Social Media Vortex Triggers Depression

Everything could be going perfectly in my life and I could be in a great mood, but everything comes crashing down if I get trapped in this spiral of obsessive behavior.

I will text someone, Snapchat someone, message someone on Facebook, whatever, and spend the next few minutes, hours, days even refreshing the apps and checking for notifications. I’ll check other social media for a few minutes only to switch back to the original app and refresh it, hoping for a change.

If it’s a text, I’ll read and re-read everything I’ve sent in the past, looking for something I said that may have pissed them off or convinced them to ignore me. If it’s a Snapchat, I’ll refresh the feed, check my stories to see if they’ve watched them, and very briefly consider sending them another snap of a goofy face or something. And so on.

As the time continues to pass, my self-esteem shrinks. My chest gets tight and whenever I’m not staring at my phone, waiting for a new notification, I’m staring at the wall contemplating everything I’ve ever done wrong in my life.

It’s a spiral of depression that consumes me.

My phone becomes the host to a slew of mistakes and whenever I get a notification, I hastily pick up the phone only to find that it’s just another spam email.

As the minutes, hours, days tick by, I get an upset stomach. I find myself crying at the stupidest things. I lose sleep because I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, anxious that I have missed the long-awaited response.

It’s a vortex. I stalk Facebook and Snapchat for activity. I type out and delete countless messages I ultimately decide shouldn’t be sent. I begin to think that maybe I’ve done it — I’ve finally pushed them away.

I think about how I’ve said and done things to upset the other person over the years. I think about everything they’ve said about me, joking or not, and how they must really think I’m a terrible person. I think about the number of friends I have slowly diminishing.

I don’t eat or I eat entirely too much. I don’t move for hours at a time. I don’t brush my teeth before bed. I stare at my phone.

My behavior isn’t healthy. I shouldn’t neglect my self-care over an ignored text message. I shouldn’t think the worst when someone doesn’t open or reply to my Snapchats. I shouldn’t spend hours staring at my phone when I could be reading a good book or catching up on my latest TV show or walking my dog.

It can feel isolating to be ignored on social media, but it doesn’t mean that I’m alone. Even if I feel like this one message is defining my entire existence, I need to remember that there’s a world outside of the internet, where there are people who love talking to me and spending time with me.

I’m currently resisting the urge to check my phone. You can do it too.

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