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What Happened When I Gave Up Social Media While I Was Depressed

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I didn’t have the energy to look at another baby picture or cat meme.

I was working 10-hour days and commuting an hour each way to a job I didn’t want. Sure, that was exhausting, but it was nothing compared to the crushing effects of the depression that seemed to creep in unannounced.

Saying I was unhappy with my life was an understatement; I was downright miserable. And seeing everyone’s false projection of happiness on social media was almost too much to bear.

Add that to the infighting and utter shitstorm of hatred that was the 2016 election, and I was done.

I had heard of people quitting social media before, but I used to think they were strange. Or maybe I was the strange one for sticking around so long.

One night when my symptoms were particularly persistent, I decided to try it. I resisted the urge to check my Facebook notifications, and… nothing happened.

I didn’t miss any huge crisis or announcement, I didn’t miss an invitation to an event and no one was talking about the latest video on six ways to upgrade boxed-mix brownies.

That first night turned into two nights, then a week, then flash forward to four months without one like, comment or hashtag on social media.

At first, it was a relief to not be tied to my phone. I felt less distracted and had more time to keep up with reading and household projects.

But over time, as my depression worsened, the dishes started to pile up (and so did the wine bottles), books were neglected and a weekend shower was almost unheard of.

I stopped accepting invitations to go out with friends (or I bailed on them at the last minute) and gave up my beloved volunteer roles. I was constantly exhausted, sleeping for nine, 10, sometimes 11 hours every night. I was drinking too much and watching too much TV.

One day, after an especially poignant therapy session, I realized this shell of a person was not me. What happened to the charismatic woman who hosted countless dinner parties and loved volunteering?

I thought giving up social media would make me feel more present in my life. Instead, I missed out on the one thing social media is designed to do: connect people.

As I became more aware of how depression manifested in my life, I realized I started exhibiting a classic sign: pulling away from social connection and things I enjoyed.

By not interacting with people on social media, I lost a critical piece of what made me feel whole. I also missed important moments in my friends’ lives, like my college roommate’s wedding and a sorority sister’s new baby.

I began to heal and rebuild myself after my depression. I was ready to return to social media, and I was determined to make it a more positive place.

I started a Facebook group where I used my life coaching knowledge to engage with friends on a deeper level. Over time, I felt safe enough to get really vulnerable and share my journey with mental illness.

I formed strong bonds with new friends, reconnected with old friends and re-established myself as the inspirational, charming and fierce leader I once was.

I quit social media for all the wrong reasons, but out of my darkness came a renewed spirit, ready to bring people together.

Follow this journey on Bright Space Coaching

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Getty image via Good_Studio

Originally published: March 28, 2018
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