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What Happened When I Stepped Away From Social Media for My Mental Health

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Sometimes I feel my value is based on likes on Instagram. My popularity based on retweets on Twitter and comments on Facebook. Sound familiar?

I had a seriously toxic relationship last year especially when I was depressed. I’d look on Facebook, see no messages and feel no one cared about me. Post a selfie on Instagram to try and make myself feel better, and then feel devalued when it got fewer than 10 likes. Look on Snapchat and see my friends out socializing and feel left out. I’d use services like Curious Cat where people could leave you anonymous comments and I think at least 96 percent of the comments I received on it were negative. I was so low that I fed off the negative comments. I thought I deserved them and that everyone was right about me — I needed to hate myself.

I felt miserable, lonely and worthless. I thought about deleting all my social media.

Would anyone miss me if I left?

Would anyone notice?

What if I miss out on something?

But then I thought to myself, Who cares? If my friends missed me, they could pick up the phone and call me or text me. It’s the internet, what am I really gonna miss out on — a cat video? Or maybe seeing holiday photos on Facebook posted by people I don’t actually care about — people I’ve been friends with on social media for years who I just keep as a friend not to be rude.

I ended up deactivating Facebook and Twitter. I deleted my Curious Cat account, deleted Instagram and Snapchat. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. After about a month, I did return to social media with a different attitude. I reactivated my Twitter first and my Facebook after. I decided to do this so I could turn to it when I felt the need to get stuff off my chest. I was very hesitant, but I set up a new Instagram account and a few weeks later, a Snapchat. I turned off all notifications on my apps, which I still have turned off seven months later. Nothing is that important on social media that it needs my immediate attention.

My relationship with social media is completely different to what it used to be. I honestly don’t give a sh*t if people don’t like my Instagram posts. I post what I like, how I feel, etc. and if people want to leave negative comments, they can go ahead. I’ll just delete them. I have gotten a few anonymous comments on my blog, and my response is: “I’ll post your IP address on Twitter.” Trolls attack me on Twitter, and I use the block button.

I am worth more than likes, retweets, shares and comments. No one deserves hateful comments, no matter how depressed they are and how much they think they deserve it. If you ever feel this way, please know you are so much better and stronger than those people who hide behind anonymous accounts to try and bring you down. Feeling like social media is getting too much? Deactivate it, take a break. Everyone will still be there sharing crap you don’t care about when you get back. I deactivate my stuff whenever I need a break. I recently deactivated Facebook because I was just so sick of it. I do also suggest turning off notifications on your social media apps. I find myself looking at my phone way less and find myself caring less about social media.

The only time I legitimately enjoy social media now is when I get to share videos and photos of my time with puppies and fight night interactions on Twitter — other than that, it’s not helpful.

Follow this journey here.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Unsplash photo via Daria Nepriakhina.

Originally published: August 9, 2017
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