While it may seem like it on social media, nobody’s life is perfect. And now, more and more bloggers are coming forward to talk about mental health openly on their public platforms.
Speaking as someone who used to run a blog, there can be a lot of pressure to see and be seen. Life as a blogger or influencer can seem pretty glamourous with all the industry events, socializing and swag. But there can be some misconceptions and some fairly unglamourous stuff happening beneath the surface for those running their blogs. Hidden behind the beautifully curated Instagram pictures and well-crafted blog posts are the folks making and creating all the content who are leading very real lives. Behind the curtain are folks who can be struggling with everything from anxiety, depression or family issues – things that aren’t pretty but are important to discuss.
Enter The Sad Collective, run by Meghan Yuri Young and co-founder Vasiliki Marapas. Through their collective, they approached the journey of mental health in a light-hearted manner, making the conversations accessible to those in and out of the blogging community with Meghan explaining to me, “We decided to create a cause that could destigmatize the conversations around mental health while showing people that ‘we’re all in this together.’ Our aim was to create a community that comes together online but finds strength offline.”
When you’re in the thick of creating a brand for yourself, it can seem like opening up about your personal struggles can seem somewhat disingenuous but in chatting with Meghan, we had both agreed that in sharing this honest and vulnerable side, it can showcase different sides to your “online persona”. She explains, “The support I’ve received during tough times (be it trivial or serious) as well as direct messages thanking me for showing how nothing is perfect and that no one is alone in what they’re feeling or going through reinforces my decision to share.”
Thanks to bloggers and Instagrammers like Meghan who were #TalkingAboutIt (a hashtag created by Sammy Nickalls, weekend editor at Esquire and most recently named one of MTV’s Social Media Warrior in 2016), we’ve had more brave voices coming forward with their struggles and helping to take away the stigma surrounding mental health. One person who I’ve spent a large amount of this year admiring was Jesse Rae West who chronicled her journey on She Does the City through healing and therapy after being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
The series itself was fairly eye-opening and incredibly relatable, even for those not struggling. In society and in the media, BPD has long been misunderstood and stigmatized and Jesse’s series gave a raw insight into what her journey was like explaining, “It has been important for me to share my experiences (with Borderline Personality Disorder) because that hardest part of being unwell is how isolated I’ve felt during the healing process.”
“Talking about anxiety in a public forum (such as the Internet) doesn’t encourage folks to feel anxious, it encourages us to start acknowledging and labeling our own emotions, which is necessary for self-improvement and mood regulation.”
Through her series, she shares everything from diagnosis to healing and beyond which she hopes has made people feel less alone. The stigma in a BPD diagnosis is public rejection and Jesse explains to me that more often than not, so many people are dealing with mood and emotion, it’s just hard for folks to face what they may be going through. She explains, “Talking about anxiety in a public forum (such as the Internet) doesn’t encourage folks to feel anxious, it encourages us to start acknowledging and labeling our own emotions, which is necessary for self-improvement and mood regulation. If you aren’t ready or willing to do that, don’t try and limit others ability to cope in this way.”
Celia Edell has used YouTube to speak to folks about dealing with her mental health on a daily basis. Being diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder in the fifth grade, Celia felt ashamed. But throughout the years, she felt she didn’t have to hide her struggles and has slowly learned to open up. Her videos have ranged from topics of internalized mental health stigma to how to support a friend or partner with social anxiety. Celia tells me, “I want other people struggling to know that they aren’t alone and that they aren’t broken.” Her videos do just that. With over 11,000 subscribers – Celia explains that she has found a community of people supporting one another within the YouTube community be it in the comments or via private messages, sharing, “everyone has been so open to my reflections on my experiences and sharing theirs with me.” People are definitely using the internet to talk about their issues, and because of communities like YouTube, it’s making it easier to give a voice to what mental health looks like. Celia has been one of those incredible voices.
Recently I caught up with Jennifer Decan of Jenn and the City at an event where we got real about our mental health issues. I told her I had been struggling and she showed me her scars from when she tried to commit suicide. From her bubbly online persona, one would never assume she had rough days but she explains, “It’s been important for me to be open and transparent about my mental health through blogging and social media because I know how difficult it can be to feel utterly and completely alone.” She explains that blogging and living life as an “influencer” can be a bit of a balance – it’s not just the curated lifestyle that we see online like funny Snapchats and cute Instagram photos. “
“Some days I have fallen into a depressive state and can’t get out of bed or I’m having a full-fledged panic attack before leaving the house to go to said fun event. It’s triggering because you see these “perfect” lives and that’ll make you feel less about yourself, and you’ll isolate yourself. These, in turn, push people into depressive states. It’s a vicious circle. That’s why it’s so important to talk about it all. The good and the bad!” When I chat with Jenn, I really admire her because she’s always out there smiling and laughing and being honest about her struggles. It’s tough but she makes it look so easy!
“It’s triggering because you see these “perfect” lives and that’ll make you feel less about yourself, and you’ll isolate yourself. These, in turn, push people into depressive states. It’s a vicious circle. That’s why it’s so important to talk about it all.”
Watching bloggers and influencer live online can lead to a lot of FOMO but the fact that more and more are opening up about their everyday struggles is a way of keeping things in perspective. Meghan shares, “I don’t ever want to seem ungrateful for my life or that I’m seeking pity, but there’s a solidarity within the online community that’s astounding, comforting, and hopeful. It has connected me with compassionate people who are just trying to make sense of their life, feelings, and desires. In the end, I don’t think anyone knows what they’re doing.”
What do you think about these bloggers opening the discussion about mental health? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.