Hi! It's Courtlin, here again to talk about a fun topic that everybody loves discussing: mental illness. Only this time there's a fun twist! We're also going to talk about becoming too obsessed with social media. Yay!

In all seriousness, I've been very open in the past about my battle with anxiety and depression. It's not something I really enjoy talking about, but I feel like it's necessary, even if it makes some people uncomfortable. Especially because it makes people uncomfortable. In the past month or so I've lost 10 pounds from not eating, I haven't been sleeping more than 4 hours at a time, and I've really started to isolate myself from the people I'm closest to. If you'd like to read a little bit more about my story you can click HERE.

So what does anxiety/depression have to do with social media? Well, if you're me, everything. When I'm feeling extremely anxious, I often turn to social media for validation, which usually makes things worse.

Last week I realized that I had become obsessed with social media. Like, sickeningly obsessed. My phone never left my hand. I was constantly checking to see if certain people were watching my Snapchat stories. I was basing relationships on how long our "Snap Streak" was. I was looking at people's favorited Tweets on Twitter and reading too much into them. I was constantly updating my Instagram feed to see the last time people liked photos so I could see if they were ignoring my texts. Then I would look through those "liked" photos of strangers and compare myself to those people, wondering why my friends didn't like my recent photos. It made me question my relationships with people. I was inventing stories in my head. I was living for likes and comments and getting genuinely upset when I didn't feel like I was getting enough. Things got so bad that it started to impact my relationships with people in real life. It was making me miserable.

So this Saturday, I quit. Now, I can't "officially" quit, since social media is a big part of my job, but I deleted the Twitter app and the Snapchat app from my phone and I stopped looking through my Facebook and Instagram feeds. It's just a temporary fix until I can figure out how to separate social media from real, actual human interaction. I think that when there's some sort of attention that you're lacking in your life, it's so easy to just go online to not feel alone. But social media isn't real. Likes from people on the internet don't mean that people actually care about you. When you rely too heavily on validation from other people on the internet, it can be hard to remember that your self-worth isn't digital.

To give you an example of how much I use social media, I didn't use it for over 24-hours and three people texted me to ask if I was dead. That's the sure sign of a problem right there. I didn't even realize I had become so dependant on it until I decided not to use it for a couple of days. I found myself reaching for my phone every single time my hands were free. Giving it up has been a lot harder than I anticipated.

So here's the moral of the story: if you are using social media to constantly check up on people or you're valuing likes over human interaction - take a break. Just see how it feels. For me, it's been kind of freeing. I still have this fear that I'm missing out on something, but I think once I get over that I'll be able to log back on without losing my mind.

And, as always, for anyone out there struggling with anxiety or depression or any sort of mental illness... you're not alone. There are so many of us out here with our masks on, pretending we're ok when, in reality, we're suffering. As I heard in church this weekend: "It's ok to not be ok, but it's not ok to stay that way." We'll get through this. Pain is only temporary.

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