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How Kesha Changed Her Relationship With Social Media to Deal With Anxiety and Depression

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This isn’t the first time Kesha has spoken out about living with an eating disorder, anxiety and depression, but in an honest essay in Teen Vogue, the pop star shared how social media affects her mental health.

She wrote:

When I think about the kind of bullying I dealt with as a child and teen, it seems almost quaint compared with what goes on today. The amount of body-shaming and baseless slut-shaming online makes me sick. I know from personal experience how comments can mess up somebody’s self-confidence and sense of self-worth. I have felt so unlovable after reading cruel words written by strangers who don’t know a thing about me.

It became a vicious cycle: When I compared myself to others, I would read more mean comments, which only fed my anxiety and depression.

For this reason, she said, she’s changed her relationship with social media, going on frequent breaks and making an effort to spend more time outside.

I love [social media] because it’s how I communicate with my fans—and nothing means more to me than my fans—but too much of it can exacerbate my anxiety and depression.

Although not all of us get the “celebrity” experience on social media, how we interact with sites like Facebook can have an affect on our mental health. A study from the University of Missouri found social media can lead to symptoms of depression when it makes the user feel envy towards others. For people who already have depression and anxiety, it’s not surprising that comparing yourself to others has the potential to damage your self-esteem and make symptoms worse.

But, there’s also a thriving community of people on social media who talk about mental health issues. Sometimes when people feel alone in their own lives, relationships online — mostly fostered by social media — can assure them they’re not alone.

To find out what our mental health community thought about the relationship between social media and mental health, we asked them (on Facebook) to tell us how social media affects their own mental illness.

Here’s what they told us:

“It is a positive and a negative. The positive is that I get to interact with people without feeling any social anxiety, and it helps me to feel less alone. The negative is that it can make me feel depressed, like I’m not worth as much as people who have more than me or that everyone has a happy and perfect life. I just need to remember that what people put on social media may not be the real story.” — Alaina M.

“Through social media I am able to express myself about my mental health issues and not feel so alone. I’ve made it a point to destigmatize mental health on my Facebook as well.” — Maija N.

“I have bipolar ll disorder, and seeing everyone in my newsfeed starting families, getting married or graduating college makes me feel like I’m worth nothing. I try to not let it affect me but seeing everyone else happy and feeling stagnant myself in life, I can’t help but let it get to me.” — Miranda F.

“Social media has been huge. It can build me up or tear me down. I’ve found community, but also lost in-real-life-friends because their drama negatively effected me. Definitely a double edged sword.” — Martha W.

“Many of my old friends told me that I should stop post stuff that’s relevant to me and my mental health. It would make them feel depressed. Good joke. My aim is it to destigmatize mental illness and I will continue to talk, scream, whisper and shout about my issues and how I manage them. If I can make just one other person realize they are worthy of life and worthy of getting help, I’m happy.” — Anki L.

“Social media has been an absolute game changer. Because of the connections I’ve made, there is peer support 24/7. Connections have been made worldwide and great friendships have been formed.” — Jeanine H.

“Social media allows me to be more open about my anxiety and depression with people, but it also makes me clam up at times because I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing or have my words misinterpreted.” — Scott V.

“I live with bipolar disorder and my attempts to open a healthy dialogue on mental health have caused me to consider leaving social media altogether. My friends are supportive but no one else will talk about it. I feel like I’m not worth people’s time. No one wants to be reminded that ‘people like me’ exist.” — Matt W.

“It can help and it can hurt. It gives me a way to express myself when I’m too anxious to talk to people, I can reach out with a status instead of pushing past my social anxiety and confronting someone. On the other side though, I find myself scrolling through an endless emotional rollercoaster that is the newsfeed. ‘Sad story, happy story, look at this person who was murdered, look at this kid happy about a new puppy, look at this sailor come home to his sister, read about this new law, this place was just bombed, hey look more puppies!’ It’s hard to keep my own emotions at bay when my ‘surroundings’ have such a huge an unpredictable influence on them.” — Stephanie F.

“I’m constantly on social media. It takes a toll on me. Some days I am on it all day long. I then in turn feel like crap about it. I feel foggy and even more depressed.” — De C.

“Social media helps me stay connected with family and friends, see what’s happening in their lives when I’m too down on myself to ask or really talk to them.” — Danae N.

“Social media helps me feel close to those I love even if I’m far away from them. The downside is that normally people who upload photos or other things don’t show the reality of their feelings, so I’m always comparing myself to others and thinking their lives are better than mine.” — Kiranne S.

“Social media is mainly a positive to me, because it lets me know that I’m not alone. My friends don’t have the mental health issues I do, so it’s easy to feel isolated. Through social media I can see I’m not unique in my experiences and there’s people going through, or that have been through what I have.” — Katie B.

“Honestly it is such a trigger for anxiety, but I use it when I’m stressed for the immediate gratification of attention from strangers. I hate seeing others people’s lives and imagining how much better off than me they are, but also sometimes just an anonymous like on a picture or post can calm me and make me feel valid. I feel like that’s a sad way to use it, but sometimes it really does help.” — Nathan E.

I tend to read into post reactions more negatively. Someone could respond with, ‘Oh that’s nice,’ and I’ll immediately think it was a sarcastic response. Also, if close friends don’t respond I’ll wonder if they’re mad at me. On the positive side, I have an immense amount of support through social media concerning my mental illnesses.” — Stephanie T.

How does social media affect your life with mental illness? Tell us in the comments below.

Lead photo via Kesha‘s Facebook page.

Image via Creative Commons/Anthony Quintano

Originally published: May 18, 2017
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