Social media breaks during lockdown

Lockdown, a time when social media feels imperative to keep in touch with people outside of your household because lets face it, no matter how well you get along with the people you live with, its exhausting not being able to interact with other people. Its a time to call friends and family, play online games, Skype, whatever you do to keep in touch, which is currently my only use of the internet (other than writing this and watching copious amounts of Netflix). Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have been deleted for a few days now for the second time in 2 weeks because I could feel them causing my already high anxiety and depression to hit record levels. Why? It’s mostly down to loneliness. I haven’t spoken to anyone outside of my house in over a month (other than regular calls to my best friend and a Skype call with another friend, which was bizarre as we never video call). Its tough seeing everyone content with who they’re spending lockdown time with, not to say I want everyone to feel as isolated as myself, but its just tough to see and is a constant reminder that after 2 weeks of good luck and excitement prior to lockdown, Im now back to square one and feeling deflated, unmotivated and pessimistic about the future.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the weeks running up to lockdown, I finally got a photography job in a studio and was excited to finally feeling like I amounted to something and my degree was worth it. This was after around 9 months of working in a sector that I hated and was desperately trying to get out. Now I know the job will still be there for me when all this is over, but the end seems far off and being so close to pursuing something that I enjoy, just to have it taken away over night was a huge blow to my mental health. It also probably doesn’t help that the longer I’m waiting to start this job, the more I am doubting my ability to be able to do it well (even though I know I’m great at what I do, I wish my brain would stop being unkind). I then spent the first 3 weeks of lockdown battling to get paid by my current employers, which has just added to the exhaustion and bad mental state.

Anyway, that’s the background information on why my mental health is in absolute shambles, back to social media breaks. They’re not something I usually do, or at least not usually for extended amounts of time. My online presence is important to me, to show my work and make a name of myself, however my mental health needs to start coming first, especially in tough times. Usually my social media detox’s only consist of twitter and facebook because they can be the most draining. Theres an awful lot of information on there, its the place I come across the most transphobia, homophobia and harmful political views. Its also where I feel most inadequate and undervalued, so its a place I actively avoid if I’m feeling bad. Instagram however, is mostly harmless, but even that is taking its toll through lockdown. I am stuck in a rut, which is affecting my productivity and creativity, meaning I have nothing to share to make me feel as if I’m not complete garbage and to feel validated and loved for even 0.5 seconds (which I know, first world problems am I right?), so seeing everyone having the times of their lives, being productive and comparing myself to them is exhausting. A simple solution of course is to stop comparing myself to others, which is something I’m working on, but in order to do that, you have to take away the people you are comparing yourself to do.

I thought having no social media would mean I would be bored and sat staring at walls, which don’t get my wrong, I have been. But, I have also painted, started reading a book (the last book I read was too many years ago), relearning piano and learning not to put pressure on myself to always perform. I have also been watching more new movies that I otherwise wouldn’t have watched, since Im always exhausted, mentally and physically and so just rewatch the same stuff because I don’t need to pay attention. Its also been weirdly nice to not feel like I have to be on my phone all the time and responding to people as soon as they message me. It’s just nice to be able to breathe and take a break without feeling guilty. Of course I’m not saying, delete social media and feel better, nor am I saying that people shouldn’t be sharing the good times that they’re having right now, its your life, do what you want, but for me trying to eliminate everything making me sad has been a weird success.

Also, as of a yesterday, I have finally had a creative spark, which I otherwise don’t think I would’ve had if I was still wallowing in self pity and blankly scrolling through my phone (or maybe I would’ve, who knows!) but exciting post-lockdown stuff could be coming soon and I’m finally feeling positive.

Thanks for reading this little update, I hope everyones staying safe.

Alex

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