I’m going to quit Instagram for a while, at least until the new year. Maybe longer, depending on how I feel. Why? Short version: Instagram is giving me too much negative energy in a time where I desperately need positive energy. Long version? Okay, here we go...
Since 1.5 years I’m not doing well, physically and mentally. During this time of uncertainty, one thing did become certain: the way I use Instagram is not inspiring, motivating or healthy for me anymore.
I was recently diagnosed with a somatic disorder: “A mental disorder that manifests as physical symptoms, but cannot be explained by a medical condition.”
Because I've never been able to deal with emotions and stress properly, my body expresses it through chronic fatigue, muscle pains, vision problems, and abdominal issues.
The symptoms aren't fake. The fatigue and pain I struggle with are real and cause a lot of distress, but the cause is simply mentally. Well, “simply”… there’s nothing simple about mental illness.
I have to learn to let go of my defense mechanisms and allow the emotions I’ve worked a lifetime to repress. Next to (re)experiencing past and present pain, I have to come to terms with how these experiences made me who I am. Someone I don’t necessarily always like. And the Insta-perfect world isn’t helping me like myself more, nor is it helping me realize that it’s normal to struggle.
INSTAGRAM MAKES ME INSECURE & UNSATISFIED
During this time of working on myself, I need to focus on things that are really valuable in life. Real things. Real love, real support, real connection, gratitude, a safe home, nature, music, art. Not things that social media makes me believe I need in order to be happy or satisfied. Like clothes, Instagram likes, a perfect apartment, exclusive events, an adventurous life or countless coffee dates with random people.
I know it’s not Instagram, it’s the way I react to it. But at this point, I’m not capable (and maybe never will be) to beat that primary reaction of feeling insecure and unsatisfied with myself and my life, when seeing other people’s perfect lives.
Next to feeling insecure, I feel pressured. I am a fashion influencer, which means I earn money by promoting fashion brands through my outfit posts. The constant pressure of having to post photos that will score in order to keep both you - my followers - and my (potential) clients pleased is exhausting. And not good for someone like me, who already feels like she has to constantly prove her worth to others.
"BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN YOUR FEED"
I feel a bit hypocrite writing this. I am an influencer who’s life probably looks perfect to you. And that’s exactly why I want to be open about this. I always thought I was one of the few who suffered from mental illness. Until I opened up about it and discovered that almost every person I know is dealing with or has dealt with mental health issues. I felt relieved, connected and less ashamed and alone, and I hope this little story makes you feel the same way. Even if it only removes one of the million rocks you feel laying on your shoulders.
I once saw an Insta-post saying “Be the change you want to see on your feed.” This is a first step. Maybe I will focus more on this when I’m back, maybe I’ll continue sharing my daily looks. Maybe a bit of both. We’ll see.
DELETING THE APP
I’ve decided to delete the Instagram app for now, so there’s no temptation for me. That makes it sound like an addiction. Well it is, a self-destructing one. When I pick up my phone, my finger automatically moves to that spot on my screen where the Instagram app is located and I unconsciously end up looking at other people’s lives for hours, instead of dealing with my own.
So if you want to talk, know that I won’t be reading my comments or DM’s after today. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Though if you’re really struggling, best would be to contact a friend or family member, or even better; a therapist. The only reason I can explain my situation so clearly is because of my therapist. Without him, life would still be a big maze in which I’d still be taking the same wrong turns. It will be a long time until I reach the end of the maze - if I ever fully will - but at least the paths are slowly getting clearer.
Either way, I’m here for you, as you guys are there for me too.
See you in the next year ♥︎