Social media is one of the most major tools, joys, and evils of our time. And every day it becomes more clear just how huge the rift between our Real Lives and our Facebook Lives really is. With so many celebrities and Insta-celebrities constantly posting glowing, hyper-filtered, obnoxiously chic and cheerful photos all the time, plenty of Instagrammers and Snapchatters and the like see no choice but to (attempt to) follow suit. But the dark side of social media — especially its effects on mental health — is no secret.
That's why mental health activist Ella Endi, a.k.a. @nakedwithanxiety, hit Instagram with a pair of side-by-side photos that show just how much reality those filters can obscure — and how damaging that can be for folks who feel they need to hide their mental health issues on social media (and throughout their lives, for that matter).
Both images were taken at the end of a very rough day for Endi, mental-health-wise, but only one conveys what she's feeling on the inside. The other is filtered to within an inch of its life, and her inner struggles go unnoticed.
"Filters don’t just hide or enhance certain physical features — they also have the ability to completely wash away any evidence that someone is struggling with their mental health," Endi wrote. "A mental health diagnosis is an intangible thing — we can feel it, but no one can see it. And that’s a really dangerous aspect of these conditions — because not only does it keep us from receiving the empathy we deserve, but it often allows us to hide our suffering."
"I look like I’m doing well there," she said of the filtered photo, "but I absolutely wasn’t. These two photos taken in the same night tell totally different stories, so I just want to remind you that you don't need to hide your pain away from the world. If you're having a shitty day, you don't have to post a cute/happy selfie to keep up appearances. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional for support when you need it. Asking for help doesn't mean you're weak — it means you're brave AF!"
Damn straight it does. Endi's post (and, come to think of it, the fact that mental health activists like her are using social media to break down stigma in the first place) shows that it's not all bad in Insta-land. In fact, there are plenty of ways that we can conquer the very social platforms that make so many of us feel shitty — and repurpose them for good.
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