Social media is a curious beast when it comes to mental health. On the one hand, it contributes to anxiety and other mental health issues. On the other, it can help us feel less alone when coping with those same things.
Allure digital wellness editor Rosemary Donahue demonstrated the latter last week when she posed this question to her followers:
“What’s the one thing that betrays the true status of your mental health even when you’re managing to keep up appearances in all other areas of your life?” she wrote. “For me, it’s the amount of dishes in my sink.”
The question clearly struck a nerve, eliciting a long thread of reply tweets in which people offered up their own telltale signs. Things like increased time spent on social media, letting laundry or mess pile up and unopened texts or emails appeared frequently on the list.
“That is so me!” one person responded. “Yeeeesssss!!!!” wrote another.
The thread exposes subtle symptoms that so many of the approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States who experience a mental health condition deal with on a regular basis. (In addition to other sometimes debilitating effects, like mood changes, sleep problems, appetite issues, social withdrawal, headaches ― the list goes on.) But not only that, the conversation also created the opportunity to share coping mechanisms with other people going through the same thing.
Many people echoed Donahue’s sentiment that music ― or in some cases a podcast ― is immensely helpful. Exercise, setting timers for oneself, medication and making to-do lists came up too.
It’s comforting ― and refreshing ― to see social media being used to connect instead of divide, and to comfort instead of criticize. More like this, please.