Saturday, 4 March 2017

Why I Started Being Honest on Facebook

Just over a year ago, I decided it was time to be honest with my family and friends on Facebook. It was time to find the courage to admit I suffered with mental health conditions and time to admit my life wasn’t perfect. Why did I do it and how did it go? Read on.

First here is my Facebook profile picture, it is of course my favourite picture of myself. Not overly realistic though as I couldn't get my hair like that if you paid me! But we don't always show realistic on social media do we?

The Best Version of Kelly

I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 19 and at university, although I suspect I had suffered for much longer without anyone realising. Back then I told people about it. My immediate and wider family knew and so did my friends. I didn’t feel embarrassed or shamed. It didn’t define me and it wasn’t a constant topic of conversation but it was out there.

I graduated and moved to Leicester at the age of 23 and started a full-time job. Quickly and as relevant I confided in the friends I made at work about my depression. I suffered with anxiety back then too but hadn’t distinguished between that and the depression at that stage.

After just a few weeks in my new home and new job I also got a new boyfriend. Telling a new partner that you have depression isn’t easy but it was such a big part of my life that I wanted him to know so I told him after about 3 weeks. More than 15 years on I can still clearly remember sitting in his car having the conversation.

He took it well. He was concerned for me but not concerned about dealing with me. He admitted to having no knowledge of the condition but wanted to learn. It was the perfect response. I’m lucky I haven’t had to have that conversation with a new partner again as he is now my husband.

The Best Version of Kelly

What he didn’t do though was tell anyone as he is a very private person so as I met his friends and family I didn’t tell them either. When I started a new job, I didn’t tell anyone there either. I also stopped talking about my mental health with even the people who already knew.

Of course, when I set up a Facebook account I followed the norm and posted about the good stuff and uploaded lots of happy photos. At first that was fine but when I had therapy and realised I had a fear of judgement in put things into perspective.

Not long after that, more than one of my Facebook friends commented on my family pictures referring to us as the perfect family. I hated to think my perceived perfect life could potentially be making someone feel bad about their own life.

At the time the ‘be like …’ phase was going around Facebook and it seemed like a slightly more light-hearted way to say what I needed to say. I was so scared of the reaction but had to do it. I posted this.

Depression admission facebook

I needn’t have been scared. The reaction I received was very positive. I felt so relieved and so pleased and most importantly loved.

There was one girl from work I was friends with on Facebook who I didn’t know particularly well. She was one of the people on there I looked at with envy. She was beautiful, funny, popular and had a perfect looking family. After my post she messaged me privately to say she too suffered with depression. It was at that moment I knew I had done the right thing.

Friends who had known me for years said I had never struck them as depressed or anxious. I had become so good at putting on a brave face and keeping my problems hidden.

Hiding them didn’t help though. Sharing them has been liberating. I feel stronger and love the idea I can help and inspire others to do the same.

Never assume someone else’s life is perfect, it almost certainly won’t be.

Don’t feel you must hide the less understood or ‘acceptable’ parts of your life. If you share them you may just be surprised how supportive people can be. Especially once those people have a greater understanding of the conditions and they can only understand if we start to stand up and explain.

Remember Facebook is a snapshot of a life. We can all force a smile for a camera once in a day no matter how bad things are. Then show the world that smile, it’s not a realistic snapshot though, is it? Try and occasionally be a little more honest on Facebook as someone may be seeing your ‘perfect’ life and be feeling terrible about their own.


Kelly x

                                      2nd Month of Blogging, the Good, Bad and Ugly
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6 comments

  1. Jennifer Johansson4 March 2017 at 21:00

    Thank you for this. I'm needing to do something similar for myself, partially raising awareness and being honest about my own chronic illnesses. I've started a blog and I'm still learning. I'd like to link back to this if u don't mind onceIfigure out how & what that means.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jennifer. Linking back would be great, thank you. What's your blog? Are you on twitter? I'm @thebestvofkelly xx

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  2. A brave decision but a great one. Thanks for sharing, Kelly

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  3. I think you are absolutely correct, although personally I do prefer to see happier posts on my Facebook feed - simply because my attitude is to always look on the bright side of a challenge. I have posted negative things in the past and was actually (tactfully) advised by some friends not to post those things again. They were quite personal, and about the state of my marriage. It's funny how people are still so very old-fashioned about certain topics of conversation, isn't it? Anyway, we should be proud to be open and honest. If you are having a low day, speak out. There will be lots of people immediately on hand to offer support. Likewise, if you have a good day and share your news, they will be happy for you. I have found Facebook a place for support and companionship when I have been at my lowest emotional point. It's just a question of finding the right people to be friends with.

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  4. Hi Kelly, first time I've come across your blog. I love reading anything that's honest and as someone who has struggled with but overcome anxiety, I hope to see you fully recovered one day.

    I've just started my own blog in which I discuss anxiety. Drop by and maybe you can learn something from what worked for me. I never had depression but I was suicidal and fought back to full health. timothyphoenix.com

    I'll be sure to check out some more of your blog :)

    Tim

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