Social Media And Anxiety: Does It Help?

Being honest and open is one thing I try to stay true to as a blogger. I write with my heart on my sleeve which is why you have read about the hardships of my pregnancy, the pregnancy scare we had, the tough days we have as Momma and Papa Bear and my recent spiralling descent into the maddening world of anxiety. If you follow me on social media you’ll know that my honesty is not only on the blog but also on my Facebook page, my Instagram and wholeheartedly on twitter which has become my favourite social media platform. A twitter friend named my anxiety and it’s stuck so let’s talk about this Frickin’ Flamingo and how social media has had an effect on it.

Game On

You might remember how I started playing hashtag games on twitter around the time the anxiety really started to take hold. B, who has been an avid hashtagger for over a year now, figured it would be a good idea for me to have a go at throwing out random tweets at hashtag games while feeding Little Bean because it would give me a distraction beyond watching recipes on Facebook. The games are fun. There are some incredibly funny and insightful people out there. And so I still play. And it has helped. It gave me something to focus on at a time when I was unable to clear my head from the nauseating anxieties I was suffering.

Tweeting My Worries Away

But more than that, the games got me back into using Twitter the way it should be used. As a conversation tool.

I rarely had chats on twitter, possibly because I was nervous about jumping into threads or spent too long wondering if anyone would care to hear my opinion. But I was re-introduced to a world greater than the amazing blogger friends I had only connected with on twitter.

Day after day, after day, I was being followed by other gamers. And I followed back. These are real people who want to be involved and talk. Real people with real opinions and real support. Twitter can be faceless, it can be nameless, like all social media, but there are real people there. People who have been down the road you’ve found. People who have hit the dead ends and walked their way back up. People who will leave bread crumbs out for you to find your way home.

But The Frickin’ Flamingo…

It was still there. Playing games never eased my anxiety enough to keep me at peace and of course they never will. But they’re enjoyable.

What has helped put this frickin’ Flamingo to sleep for a while are the people I have connected with. I have tweeted on occasion about my anxiety. I have been honest about those crippling days and I have not been alone. Those tweets did not disappear in the mountain of words that come flying at you on your timeline. People saw them. And people commented. They supported me from a distance while I felt the tightness in my chest and willed it away.

I was surprised the first time I tweeted honestly about my anxiety. I was sitting at the kitchen table as A threw glitter and paint on homemade birthday cards. She was occupied and happy. Little Bean was asleep in her bouncer beside us, dreaming of whatever newborn babies dream of. I was filled with a painful anxiety I couldn’t shift and desperately tried to hide it from A.

I found my way to twitter and as the notifications came in, my anxiety shifted and my mood lifted. All because of the people who took the time to like, retweet and talk to me about my anxiety, their anxiety and how to get this Frickin’ Flaming off our backs.

Others shared their experiences with me. They gave me words of wisdom and advice. They told me that I wasn’t alone. Short of holding my hand, they were there for me and I felt it. I felt the support and every time I got a notification I was distracted from the anxious build up that lay heavy on my shoulders and pushed against my rib cage. Little Miss never noticed and Little Bean slept soundly.

But did it truly help? Or was it temporary? Is temporary enough when you find your days on the verge of anxiety?

I’ve been questioning lately whether social media is a help or a hindrance to my mental upheavel. Does it truly help or is it a temporary state of acceptance and approval?

The problem with social media is the addiction. I found myself lumbered under my phone, not being able to find the balance between when I should and shouldn’t be using it. I found refreshing the notifications tab to be almost automatic. In fact, my brain would subconsciously open twitter even if that was not the app I was looking for. I found I needed connection with others on twitter. I needed to talk and I needed connection. I needed the temporary satisfaction of likes and retweets. I needed to know there were others out there feeling the same. And of course there were.

But when does all of this become a negative thing for your mind? When the notifications come rolling in and you find it difficult to keep up? When no notifications come in do you wonder if anyone cares? You wonder why you should care about getting a retweet or a like. But that’s what social media is… a constant need for approval and acceptance. And that is not necessarily what someone who is suffering with anxiety needs. I know it doesn’t help me.

I have had to take twitter breaks because it can be overwhelming at times. With so many voices, you can lose your own some times.

But I found the balance and it has been good.

And balance is needed because twitter can set off my anxiety in an odd counterproductive way too. Too many notifications can be tiring, sifting through to find the comments that need replying to. Not enough notifications make you question too many unnecessary scenarios.

Social media can be time consuming, it can be overbearing, it can be negative. But it can he helpful, it can be supportive, it can be a distraction.

In all, I have found that social media has helped me combat this Frickin’ Flamingo. But the battle is ongoing. The bird still flies gently over the waters, but the waters are still. For the moment. A storm might be on the horizon and that Flamingo may fly against the wind making me battle harder but knowing that I am not alone is a comfort. Knowing that I can vent and the twitter world will accept and applaud my release of frustrations is a help.

I ran a twitter poll to see what others thought. I was surprised, and I wasn’t, by the result. Most believe that twitter helps. But it all depends on your tribe, your crew, your circle, whatever you want call it. It all depends on your tweeps (twitter peeps fyi). Just like in real life, it depends on the people you surround yourself with.

Keep yourself in positive circles and the positivity comes back to you. Social media is what you want it to be.

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2 Comments

  1. This is phenomenal Ger, you are such a talented writer and i love how you process the struggle out loud – this isn’t a Five Steps to Fixing Anxiety as much as it is “This anxiety thing is sucking but here are some things i have found and am working with” – no wonder you keep getting nominated for awards… i need to learn from you…

    And so super stoked that the crew from AFH is a small part of your day to day flamingo holding back and also that you are figuring out balance – strength and love to you!

    love brett fish

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