How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health (guest post)

How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health

Guest Post by Daniela McVicker

socialmedia

We live in a time where social media has taken over our everyday lives.  Both older and younger generations constantly use their  phones to communicate with friends and family, as well as entertain themselves — and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are playing a very important role in all of these actions.

While social media can help connect people, improve information sharing, and provide hours of entertainment, there are also many negative aspects connected with their usage.  Famous people can promote unhealthy standards which an average person would never be able to achieve and sustain.  Taking this into consideration, here are some of the ways in which social media can affect your mental health.

It Can Promote Interaction and Create Friendships.

For people who are lonely, the internet can provide them with a social circle they most likely don’t have in real life.  As social media is concentrated around accounts which promote certain types of content, it is a lot easier to find other people with similar likes and interests.

Coming in contact with people who share your interests can help you feel more confident about your choices and help improve your mood.   Talking about things you enjoy and learning  interesting things from people with similar tastes will certainly help your mental state improve. 

While the internet can limit face-to-face contacts between people, it can help those who are lonely feel like they belong and help them have someone to talk to when they need it. While many online friendships and relationships don’t allow people to meet in real life, it is still a great opportunity for human interaction for people who are shy, ill, or home-bound.

It Can Also Make Users Feel Isolated.

At the same time though, no matter how many friends someone has online, they cannot really replace the experience of having real-life friends to spend time with. Online friendship is limited by the distance the screens create between the users, and even though you can Skype and call the other person easily, you are still not actually spending physical time together.

This can make a social media user feel isolated and even feel like they’re not worthy of having real-life friends. The reality is that for most people, opening up to a stranger online is much easier than striking up a conversation with someone in an everyday life scenario.

A good way to view online friendships is as an opportunity for improving your social skills and finding new ways to strike up a conversation with people who have similar interests to you in everyday life.   Since you won’t have the pressure of replying to the other person immediately, you will be able to teach yourself how to pick your words better and be more social in an easier way. This will definitely help boost your mental health.

 It Can Make Users Compare Themselves to Unrealistic Images.

Another reason why social media can affect a person’s mental health is that almost every platform tends to support and promote unrealistic images of perfection.   Social media influencers have become very popular in our day and time and are loved, supported and followed by millions of users.

Platforms such as Instagram tend to present users with social media influencers who always look perfect, use the most expensive beauty and clothing items, and appear to just be living a dream life. The reality is that their lives are not as perfect as they appear to be online.

For example, most of the pictures people post on social media have been retouched or altered so that the users hide their own imperfections from the world.   Or they only post their very best pictures or the ones that make it look as if their lives are perfect:  perfect family,  lots of friends, always looking perfect, etc.   For younger generations that have not yet come to terms with the fact that what they see online may not be what the person is really like or what their life is really like,  this can have devastating consequences on their self image.

This can affect their mental health negatively by making them obsessed with chasing an image that does not really reflect reality. Working towards self-improvement is a great thing, but setting achievable and realistic goals is most important for one’s mental and physical well-being.

It Can Provide a Source of Support in Difficult Situations

Have you ever wondered if there are other people out there that might be going through a similar situation as you? Whether that has to do with a chronic illness, a relationship issue, or anything else that you might think of, the internet is bound to provide you with a forum on social media platforms targeted toward people who struggle with the same issue you do.

A great example is a Facebook group for people who want to support each other and get support on their weight loss journeys. Not only are they great sources of education for the people struggling with losing weight, but they also provide the participants with a social circle which will always be there to support them and help them keep moving on their weight loss journeys.

No matter what the issue, being part of a supportive online community can help the person improve themselves while also improving their mental health. Finding people who go through the same problems as you is very difficult or even impossible in day-to-day life, so the online support group can give them the motivation they need to feel better and start improving themselves and the way they view the world around them.

The Bad and the Good of Social Media Platforms.

While social media platforms tend to promote unrealistic images and set high expectations for their users, they can also offer a plethora of benefits. There are many people out there who are lonely or isolated and can benefit greatly from feeling like they are part of a group and have some online friends they can talk to when things are rough.

Social media platforms can affect users’ mental health both positively and negatively but in most cases, this effect is related to the personality of the user as well as the way they use their social media accounts.

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Daniela McVicker is an editor for Topwritersreview. She is also an experienced writer with a degree in social psychology from Durham University. Daniela is primarily focused on writing about self-improvement. She has authored a number of insightful and motivating articles like “Making The Right Choices Every Day” and “7 Steps To Open Yourself To New Opportunities & Possibilities”.

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Let’s Talk About Generalised Anxiety Disorder

I can relate to this article. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the medical term for my chronic “free floating” anxiety that I complain about so often. Believe me, it’s a lot worse than it sounds.

Please leave your comments on the original post.

The B Journal

If there is one thing that has been like my on-off toxic partner for the past 5 years (apologies to my boyfriend), it has been the complex condition known as Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Also known as GAD, in a very brief summary, is defined as exaggerated anxiety, and worry about everyday life, that may affects your day to day living.

In a world where mental health, and emotional stigmas are being more discussed, we often talk about how we are becoming more self aware about ourselves, and we are becoming more open to talk about how we are feeling. This may cause people to explore their mental health, and in particular in times of stress, and low moods- we are becoming more and more open as a society to look for a diagnosis, and try to find a remedy for how to combat this.

Unfortunately, as with everything in society…

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How Our Cultural Ignorance of Mental Health Helped Elect Donald Trump

This author has some interesting thoughts about our ignorance about mental health, and narcissistic personality disorder in particular. A short, but important read.

Please leave comments on the original post.

mentallyspeaking

mentally speaking trump flag

Leading up to the 2016 presidential election, I repeatedly heard politicians, pundits and voters predict or at least express hope that, if elected, Donald Trump would “rise to the occasion” or “surround himself with good people.” It infuriated me. As a mental health practitioner, I knew this would not happen. More than his policy or populist rhetoric, it was Donald Trump’s instability I feared. Most disturbing to me was few people did.

People assume that psychiatric diagnosis is a subjective science open to interpretation, but this is far from the case. Human behavior operates on a continuum. In many cases (but certainly not all) it’s a matter of degree and frequency that separates abnormal from normal. When taking Abnormal Psychology in college, we were warned of psychiatry’s own version of “medical student syndrome.”

Perhaps this is why it’s easy to justify Trump’s deviances. It’s when you take into account the…

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Why is depression more tolerable than anxiety?

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I haven’t been at my best.   My anxiety has really been acting up.   I’m finding it hard to stay mindful and have a positive outlook.   All the tools I learned to stay mindful and avoid the worst of Complex PTSD are almost useless.

I can never relax.  I’ve been filled with a free floating sense of awful, black dread.  I can’t take naps in the middle of the day like I used to, or even sleep in late because at some point I feel like my heart is slamming in my throat and I’m jumping out of my skin.    Often I wake up early in the morning with a jolt, all that oppressive black anxiety weighing down on me like a lead blanket, and I almost feel like I can’t breathe.   Sometimes it’s so intense it borders on full blown panic.

Some of my anxiety is very specific:

  • Worry about the future of our country under the current president;
  • Worry about my personal freedom and rights as I get older, especially since I’m what most would consider poor and under this horrific regime, I will be VERY vulnerable to exploitation or early death from lack of social security, Medicare or other old age benefits that older generations took for granted;
  • Worry about what will happen to my children (or any children they have) should we become a real dictatorship;
  • Worry that the payout from my insurance company won’t be enough to allow me to buy any kind of decent vehicle, which I need for work;
  • Worry about my daughter’s new husband not being capable of providing sufficiently for her or any children they have.
  • Worry about a likely move in the future: will I be able to afford it?
  • Worry that one of my adult children will be in a terrible accident and possibly die;
  • Worry that my own family is using me financially and talking badly about me behind my back (this is probably the most irrational fear I have).    I know this is due to my past as a victim of narcissistic abuse.  When I’m very anxious and triggered, I have a hard time trusting people, even people I know aren’t out to hurt me.

There’s also the free floating, nameless anxiety I’ve lived with all my life, magnified by my specific (and possibly even rational) fears.   It’s this overwhelming feeling that something awful is about to happen, though I have no idea what.

All that anxiety is debilitating, and yes, it’s painful.   It’s hard to function properly or maintain healthy relationships when you’re constantly fretting or ruminating about something that might happen in the future — or might not.    I irritate my family because of my constant need for reassurance that I’m not being used or they are not going to be doing something dangerous that will get them hurt or killed.   I get annoyed easily at work and just in general.   I snap at others, not because I’m angry, but because I’m so anxious all the time.

There have even been days I’ve contemplated suicide (though I know I won’t actually do it) just to escape from the oppressiveness of all this anxiety and dread.

Every so often though, my anxiety gives way to depression.    I know that depression is actually worse than anxiety because it means you have given up.   You’re no longer fighting (anxiety definitely feels like you’re fighting for your life sometimes).  Oddly enough it feels almost…comforting.    When I’m depressed, I can just lie in bed or in front of the TV and not feel like my heart’s about to slam right out of my chest.   I feel no guilt about being so slothful.   When I’m depressed, I can actually sleep and escape my emotional hell through dreams, or just the oblivion of featureless slumber.   I can find food comforting even though I can barely taste it.    Though tears come rarely, when they do, it feels cathartic.

But mostly, when I’m depressed, it’s like boredom turned up to 11.    Depression is very, very boring.   There are elements of sadness and sometimes grief, but more than anything else, depression is boring.   Yet, I have no urge to do anything to relieve the boredom, except maybe sleep or eat.   The boredom is there, and while it’s intense, it isn’t painful or intolerable the way normal boredom is, the kind of boredom that makes you have to go DO something about it immediately.   It’s just there, like gray wallpaper.

When I’m depressed, I don’t suffer much (or any) anxiety or dread, because in my mind, the bad thing has already happened.  Even though my belief it already happened may be irrational, I’ve emotionally succumbed and accepted it.

It’s like that moment you know you are going to die.   You go through your whole life fearing death, but when you’re finally face to face with it, staring into its infinite maw, knowing there’s nothing you can do, your fear disappears and you just accept you’re going to die at this moment, right here and now.  I know this is true because when I was 18 I got raped.  The man had a knife, and I thought he was going to kill me.   At one point, I was sure I was a goner, and at that moment a strange calm took over and I just accepted this was how I was going to leave this earth.  Obviously it didn’t happen, but I remember that sense of peaceful calm and acceptance.

That’s what happens when I’m depressed.  It’s like I’ve already accepted something that might not even have happened and may never happen.    No, of course it isn’t healthy, but it’s oddly comforting and far more tolerable to me than the almost constant high level of anxiety I’m forever doing battle with.

 

Healthy boundaries.

goodboundaries

Credit: unknown

Guest Post #8 : Abusers break you–and then HATE you for being broken.

Linda Lee’s wonderful guest post about Complex PTSD is definitely worth another day in the sun.

Lucky Otters Haven

My dear friend and active participant on this site, Linda Lee, has written a wonderful and OMG SO TRUE post, which describes a lifetime of abuse, including incarceration in a state mental hospital, and being faced with unethical doctors and caregivers, including one who raped her. She was sent back home to a rejecting family–who had put her there in the first place! Linda Lee has Complex PTSD, a form of PTSD that’s often the result of chronic abuse during childhood, rather than an isolated traumatic incident later on in life. After describing the insane house of mirrors she had been thrusted into that seemed to have no way out, Linda lifts the reader out of the darkness with an uplifting message about Easter and the resurrection.

Linda Lee also has a blog about her Complex PTSD caused by prolonged, severe trauma called Surviving Trauma (formerly Heal My Complex PTSD)

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“Sawinery”: woodworking as PTSD/C-PTSD art therapy.

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Credit: Sawinery.net

Once in a while my readers reach out to me with questions, their own stories about abuse, or projects they are working on.  I can’t respond to all of these, but I do appreciate when my readers want to share things with me.    Occasionally, something stands out so much to me or is so innovative that I feel like it might be of help to other readers, so I asked the person who sent me the email about this if I could share it on my blog.

Sawinery is a blog about the woodworking world.

Woodworking? Why would I want to include an article about that?  It’s not a topic I’ve ever written about and isn’t the kind of thing I do write about.   But this is different, because the blog’s owner told me they have started to explore the power of woodworking as therapeutic healing art for trauma related conditions of PTSD and C-PTSD.    In the owner’s own words:

We recently interviewed 3 people: two men and one woman, who suffer from CPTSD/PTSD, one because of abuse in his childhood and one after retiring from the army — who are all doing woodworking as therapy.

They describe how it improved their creativy, that it helps to cope with confusion and anger as a result of trauma, that their confidence has improved and that they can now communicate more easily with other people.

You can read the full interview here:
https://www.sawinery.net/blog/woodworking-cptsd-ptsd-therapy-interview/

If you suffer from a trauma related disorder like PTSD or Complex PTSD, or know someone who does, you may want to take a look at the above link and share it.

What is moral injury?

moral-injury-in-the-context-of-war

Moral injury (also known as soul injury), is a serious mental condition similar to PTSD that many Americans are suffering from right now under Trump’s increasingly threatening and authoritarian administration.   This condition is also very common among soldiers who are forced to commit acts that go against their conscience or violate their understanding of right from wrong.

According to Wikipedia, moral injury

refers to an injury to an individual’s moral conscience resulting from an act of perceived moral transgression which produces profound emotional shame. The concept of moral injury emphasizes the psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of trauma. Distinct from pathology, moral injury is a normal human response to an abnormal traumatic event.  The concept is currently used in literature about the mental health of military veterans who have witnessed or perpetrated an act in combat that transgressed their deeply held moral beliefs. Moral injury can also be experienced by those who have been transgressed against. For example, when one goes to war thinking that the purpose of the war is to eradicate weapons of mass destruction, but finds that not to be the case, the warrior can experience moral injury. Those who have seen and experienced death, mayhem, destruction, and violence have had their worldviews shattered – the sanctity of life, safety, love, health, peace, etc. – can suffer moral injury as well. This injury can also occur in the medical space – among physicians and other emergency or first responder care providers who engage in traumatic high impact work environments which can affect their mental health and well-being.

Moral injury or soul injury is quite common, and can affect entire populations.   It tends to separate people with a conscience and empathy from sociopaths, the latter of which are likely to be drawn to the very person or situation that is causing moral injury and PTSD to the normal population.

Since moral injury is closely related to PTSD, the symptoms are very similar.    Depression, sadness, and even suicidal ideation is common, especially if the victim sees no escape from the threatening situation or tyrannical leader/ government.

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It is under the spiritual perspective of moral injury that Lindsay Carey (Australia), John Swinton (UK) and Daniel Grossoehme (USA), provided a comprehensive holistic defintion of moral injury based on the systematic reviews of Jinkerson plus Hodgson and Carey. [30]

Moral injury is a trauma related syndrome caused by the lasting physical, psychological, social and spiritual impact of grievous moral transgressions or violations of an individual’s deeply held moral beliefs and/or ethical standards due to (i) the betrayal of what is right by trusted individuals who hold legitimate authority and/or (ii) by an individual perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to, or learning about inhumane acts which result in the pain, suffering or death of others and which fundamentally challenges the moral integrity of an individual, organisation or community.

The violation of deeply-held moral beliefs and ethical standards—irrespective of the actual context of trauma—can lead to considerable moral dissonance, which if unresolved, leads to the development of core and secondary symptoms that often occur concurrently.  The core symptoms commonly identifiable are: (a) shame, (b) guilt, (c) a loss of trust in self, others, and/or transcendental/ultimate beings, and (d) spiritual/existential conflict including an ontological loss of meaning in life.  These core symptomatic features, influence the development of secondary indicators such as (a) depression, (b) anxiety, (c) anger, (d) re-experiencing the moral conflict, (e) social problems (e.g., social alienation) and (f) relationship issues (e.g., collegial, spousal, family), and ultimately (g) self-harm (i.e., self-sabotage, substance abuse, suicidal ideation and death).

Moral injury can be treated with CBT and other psychotherapies, but not everyone has access to professional help.  Self care is of vital importance.  If the news is disturbing or upsetting to you, and is causing you PTSD-like symptoms, take breaks from it, or even ban it from your life altogether.   While it’s important to stay informed, if there’s a real emergency, you will find out about it.  Your mental health is more important than knowing every detail of what’s going on in the world or in the country.

Try to break the hypervigilance habit.  Many people feel more “in control” if they stay on top of current events, even following the slightest detail, but the reality is, outside of practical activities like voting, signing petitions, writing letters, or protesting, there isn’t much you can do to change things.   SItting around being depressed or worrying about what might happen in a week, or a few months, or a year can drive you crazy and make you miserable.   It will drain all the joy our of your life.  Keep in mind that even in the most undemocratic regimes, most people can still find moments of joy and love in the people and the world around them.  Anne Frank was such a person who remained hopeful even while interned in a concentration camp.   Obviously not everyone has the emotional makeup to remain that upbeat and brave, but her story has brought hope to millions.

Spend time with friends and family that you trust, obviously those who feel the same way as you do (things have become so polarized that you might have to avoid friends and family on the opposite side of the political spectrum, at least temporarily).   Be sure to spend time doing fun, nonpolitical things with your friends and family members, not just talking about politics and the news.   Of course there’s a place for that too.  If you want to feel like you’re making a difference, you can plan to attend protests as a group or have letter writing or phone call “parties.”

One way you can follow the news in a more lighthearted way is to watch the late night TV comedy shows, such as Saturday Night Live or Jimmy Kimmel, instead of cable or network news.     You will still get your news (in fact, these shows are often more accurate in reporting than actual news programs) but in a way that can make you laugh and see the lighter side of a very serious situation.    Gallows humor has its place, and can make an unpleasant or unbearable situation seem more tolerable.

Remember that if you are suffering from moral injury, there is nothing wrong with you.  In fact, it means you are functioning human being with a conscience, and you are merely reacting in a normal way to an abnormal situation.  Still, if the suffering becomes intolerable or you find it hard to function, it can’t hurt to seek counseling to learn coping skills.

Almost Sunrise is a documentary film about moral injury.  It focuses on returning soldiers, but should also be of interest to anyone suffering from this form of PTSD.    You can watch a short video and read an article about the film here:

Almost Sunrise / Moral Injury

According to their site, these are the most common symptoms of moral injury:

  • Overwhelming depression
  • Guilt or shame
  • Loss of meaning in life
  • Feelings of worthlessness, despair and remorse
  • Feeling like “I’ve lost a part of myself”
  • Feeling like “I do not know who I am anymore”
  • Feeling intense distrust

Grey-rocking: if you can’t go No Contact.

This article has been picking up in views lately, so I decided to reblog it. Several people have told me they’ve found it helpful. I know this trick has helped me in dicey situations when I can’t go No Contact with a narcissist.

Lucky Otters Haven

grey_rock

Lately I’ve been hearing a new term in the narcissistic abuse community: grey rocking.  I don’t know if it’s a new term or not, but I haven’t heard it before.

How to Grey Rock a Narcissist.

It’s always best to go No Contact (or Very Low Contact) with the narcissists in your life, if it’s at all possible.   But sometimes it isn’t.    For example, you may have underage children with your narcissist and shared custody of them.  Or your boss or a coworker may be a narcissist and you’re not willing to leave your job.  Or you may be in a marriage or relationship with one, have no options for leaving right now and are biding your time until you can save enough money to leave.    Or perhaps you’re still living at home with narcissistic parents and don’t have a place to go yet.

In these types…

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Confusing patterns.

This is an older post about a very confusing time for me during my recovery journey. It’s very common for people with Complex PTSD who survived narcissistic abuse to believe they are narcissists themselves, but if you think you are one, most likely you are not. I definitely have narcissistic traits, some that I picked up from my abusers, others that may be inherent, but I don’t have NPD.

Two years ago, I became so certain I did that I actually started a second blog about it. That blog has been taken down, though some people did tell me they found it helpful and that makes me happy. It’s very common for people with C-PTSD to believe they have NPD. but I just couldn’t leave the blog up because it started to feel like a lie.

Lucky Otters Haven

confused2

In the almost year and a half since I’ve been blogging, an interesting picture has emerged. I started to blog after I went no contact with my ex (actually very low contact since we have children) as a way to process having been a victim of narcissistic abuse, first by my family of origin, then by my ex. My focus for the first six months or so was primarily on my abusers, and my rage at narcissists in general. Most of my articles were about narcissists and narcissism, and I read everything I could about it too. I became close with other ACON (adult children of narcissists) bloggers. I wasn’t ready yet to take a good long look at myself and what I could do to help myself, other than staying far away from abusive people. But it was a very good start to a journey that proved to be…

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