My anxiety was triggered by social media

"I’ve always been the sort of person to hold my cards very close to my chest, forever wanting to keep my personal life to myself and avoid being in a position of vulnerability. Although the prospect of opening up is quite scary for me, I thought it would be the right time to share my own personal experiences about what mental health and anxiety means to me."

By guest blogger and recent graduate, Ellie Taylor

In today’s world, change is becoming apparent in so many ways. We’re now embracing more cultural diversity, political developments and environmental change than ever before. This being said, mental health is one topic that has also brought significant change and discussion over the years, which I hope will continue.

Social Media
Unfortunately, we now live in a world full of unrealistic expectations through social media, that we have to achieve this ‘perfect’ life and create this false persona to be someone we’re notWell, I’m here to say that I definitely do not lead a ‘perfect’ life.the idea of not being able to look like those size 6 Instagram models, having to constantly edit my photos to feel good about myself, and never being able to embrace the skin I was in. 
I have personally suffered from anxiety for a few years now, and have recently been struggling with low mood. I’ve had my ups and downs like thousands of others struggling. As I left behind the best few months of my life travelling and entered into the working world, my anxiety and mood plummeted.
On my worst days, I would feel incapable to even get out of bed, struggling to face the outside world and go into work like everybody else. But like others, I would also have my better days, surrounded by my supportive friends, boyfriend and family to try and cheer me up and remove me from my ‘slump’. Nonetheless, despite mine and others efforts, my anxiety had left a dark cloud hovering above my head. 
For a while, I wondered whether I needed a new purpose in life, a new direction to help guide me away from those negative feelings and become my positive self again. 
Honestly, it’s devastating to know that as hard as you’ve worked all your life, and the persistence that’s lit a fire under you for so many yearsdoesn’t mean anything to you anymore. Yes, achieved three A-levels and a university degreealongside maintaining a good social lifebut in the end, it comes down to what makes you happy in life and what you want to offer to the world. 
It’s quite a scary feeling to have, that feeling of uncertainty, in a midst of anxiety, worry, anger and futility. 
Stop Comparing
As I saw all my friends and family moving onwards and upwards in the world, I was slowly falling more and more behindBut I guess, what I’ve learned over the last few years is simple. Don’t compare yourself to others; celebrate your own achievements, no matter how big or small, and create your own goals and dreams to pursue. 
Although I learnt this the hard way, not everyone in life is going to lift you up, and not everyone will have your best interests at heart. Thankfully my mum (my rock) has constantly been there to remind me that I’m worth more than I think and there is so much more in life to be grateful for. She always says 'never let anyone dampen your spirits or tell you you’re not good enough, because you are more than good enough and struggling with a mental illness should never hold you back'.
It’s time to change our mind sets on mental illness, and this will only happen when we educate those in schools and in the work place, to make everyday environments become a place of welfare, security and trust for children and adults. Businesses should be nurturing and protecting their employees, not identifying a mental illness as a sign of ‘weakness’, ‘failure’ or an ‘excuse’ for not being at work. 
You are not alone
I feel its important to say that I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve grown up with family members, friends and colleagues suffering from mental illnesses, dealing with them in their own ways. It’s heartbreaking to see the impact mental illness has on people so close to you, who feel like they have to suffer in silence, and are not able to reach out for help due to fears of being judged or ridiculed.
However, that leads me onto thisNever feel like you have to suffer in silence. Tell someone how you feel, seek help from those you trust, and keep telling yourself that there’s so much more in life to look forward to and embraceA mental illness should never define who you are as a person, nor will it ever stop you from achieving great things if you simply put your mind to it. 
Although I’ve been blessed to have grown up in a loving home, with incredible family and friends, not everyone is lucky enough to have the same support network around them. So if you see someone walking on their own in the school corridor, or you notice a colleague looking down in the office, ask if they’re ok, reach out to someone you think might need help…it’s the little gestures that go a long way. 
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