The Social Media Posts of a Teenager With Depression and Anxiety
It’s a Monday. Or a Tuesday. I don’t know – it’s a day of the week when I have to get up and do things and be nice and try to convince the world I’m OK. It’s morning. My alarm has gone off twice, and I’ve snoozed it twice. I think about all the things I need to do and hum something I don’t know when a flash of anxiety reminds me of some mistake I made six years ago.
It’s a Wednesday. Or a Thursday. I’m behind in online class work again. Every time I try to get work done I can’t focus on it. I do, however, focus perfectly well on how I need to get my grades up, how I need to stay consistent, and how horribly wrong things will be if I don’t. I should have eaten already. I’ve checked the fridge three times and closed it three times. I decide today will be the day I “go light.” I don’t get anything done. Instead I spend three hours watching YouTube videos.
It’s a Friday, maybe? I’ve smiled and small-talked my way through two “Sooooo where are you applying?” conversations I did not want to have. My mom is talking about something that’s probably important, but I’m tuning her out because I’ve decided I’ve reached the college-based-discussion limit today and I’d rather listen to music until I forget. I’m on the way to rehearsal where I turn into the bouncy person I wish I was all of the time. I check in on the girls I know are going through breakups or family trouble. I go to the bathroom with people who I know need a good cry. I listen and I hug and I assure them it’s going to be OK.
Rehearsal leaves me with a lot of down time. I play Candy Crush and wish I could control my depression and anxiety as well as I can clear away jelly or score enough points in 20 seconds. I’m completely silent when not in conversation. Two hours later I wait for my ride outside the theater. People are in conversation. I’ve met eyes with four people who I don’t know well and look away quickly four times. I’m snapped into reality when my director compliments my choker. I know I take too long to respond with a “Thanks! I just got it!” but that’s because I didn’t realize anyone was looking at me. God, who else was looking at me? I was probably mouthing song lyrics again and people think I’m “weird” when I do that.
It’s a Saturday, perhaps a Sunday. There are five new notifications on my phone and I’ve answered precisely none. There are more Instagram posts of my friends in healthy relationships, getting into their dream schools, and generally succeeding. I’m jealous, until I remember that if someone scrolled through my social media profiles, they’d see success, too.
They’d see a post from a Tuesday night – “I love how Facebook has the ‘Memories’ thing going on now! Such a fun way to look back on life!” On a Wednesday night: “Loved this Buzzfeed video! Hilarious – totally something I’d do!”
They’d see an Instragram of a playbill from the upcoming show on Thursday: “Super excited for what should be a Les Miserably good production!” On Friday, the dog filter on Snapchat, with the caption “Dogs don’t have to worry about college lol – soooo lucky!”
I scroll through Facebook and Instagram. I view YouTube vlogs and Snapchat stories. People post about being sad (breakups, lost jobs, sick parents.) People post about being angry (politics, bad drivers, poor service.) But seldom do people post about feeling depressed or overly anxious. I only told my own best friend about my depression and anxiety last month.
A typical day consists of an Elsa-like “conceal don’t feel” pattern for many of us. I push away my problems, you don’t think others will understand. He isn’t real because he’s scared of a fallout. She thinks her issues are far too inconvenient for the people who care about her. I’m wrong. You’re wrong. He’s wrong. She’s wrong. I just have to keep reminding myself until I believe it. Until I can turn an “I’m just tired” into “I’m having really deep doubts about myself – the college process is really hard to handle and I’m feeling really alone.” Until I can use positive self-talk as easily as I can build up others. Until my social media can reflect all aspects of my life, including the more difficult ones. Until I can genuinely enjoy each and every day in my life.
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Thinkstock photo by greenaperture