MH@H Depression

My Depression’s Cooling Relationship with Social Media

My depression's cooling relationship with social media - graphic of ice cubes with social media logos

I’ve never been a big social media person. Before I started blogging, I briefly had a Facebook account, but that didn’t last long. Once I started blogging in 2017, I started using social media more, but that’s contracted, in part because of depression, and in part because of COVID.

When I started this blog, I created corresponding accounts on Pinterest and Twitter. I started a new Facebook account but deleted that pretty quickly because I just don’t like Facebook. A couple of years later, I created accounts on Instagram and LinkedIn. For a while, I was posting fairly regularly, although WordPress was very much my focus all along.

Enter COVID, stage left

Then the coronavirus hit, and things changed. Very little about my day-to-day life actually changed; I wasn’t working, and I was spending the vast majority of my time at home anyway. It was more that I was just trying to limit the amount of coronavirus talk I was exposing myself to, especially on Twitter.

My online presence contracted in other ways, too. Every morning I used to pop over to Medium, another site where I post, and read a few articles to stay active on the platform. In the time of corona, I stopped doing that. There was no particular reason for that; my world was just shrinking. Even now, I only spend time on Medium maybe once a week.

I’ve remained pretty much absent from Twitter, although I check my notifications somewhat regularly. I’m on Instagram maybe once a week, and can’t think of anything to post other than guinea pig pictures. I swing by LinkedIn maybe a couple of times a month.

The only social platform I’ve stayed active on is Pinterest. I like it because it’s really not social, and it consistently brings people to my blog.

Decline in functioning

So, after all of that rambling, what’s the point? Social media didn’t matter to me all that much before, and while it matters even less now, the difference doesn’t amount to all that much. What I am curious about, though, is whether it’s a byproduct of a greater trend toward restricted functionality as a result of my mental illness.

Last year, besides maintaining this blog, I was writing new content to publish on Medium, I was working on books, and I was active on social media to an extent that was consistent with its level of importance for me. I can’t do that now, and it’s hard to imagine how I did it then. Depression slows my mind down, and my brain simply doesn’t generate that much activity.

The blog has stayed consistent, because that’s my top priority. I’ve stopped writing for Medium, and only cross-post some of what I post on my blog. I’m working slowly on a book, which is fine, and it’s priority #2. Social media has mostly fallen off a cliff except for Pinterest.

This doesn’t interest me for the sake of judging my output; I do what I can, and I have no interest in pushing myself to try to do more than I can. But I do like to be aware of what’s going on with my depression and where it’s taking me, and this isn’t the only indicator of functional decline. I’ve been too slowed down to be able to work at all this year, and while the physical aspect of that is most immediately apparent, the mental aspect has taken a toll, too.

Changes post-disability

This postscript comes almost a year later. When I got approved for disability benefits in early 2021, I decided I needed to cut back on potential sources of earnings to cut down the possibility of them deciding I’m employable when I’m not. I had been logging onto Medium maybe once a month to post something at that point, and I decided to step away from it entirely and remove all my articles from behind their paywall.

Around the same time, I decided I didn’t want to be on Twitter at all. I don’t feel the need to delete my account, but I don’t open the app or look at the site and I stopped auto-sharing my WordPress posts. Twitter never actually brought anything more than a trickle of traffic to my site, so it really wasn’t accomplishing much.

Letting things go

My head is definitely a lot less capable of making room for things than it used to be. It’s kind of weird to think back at the things I was able to juggle before that are just totally off the table now. How on earth did I manage to write in multiple places? I am glad I’ve let go of the idea that it was good to spend some time on social media for the sake of promoting the blog. I’m still on Pinterest, but it’s the only social platform that I’ve always liked, perhaps because it’s really not that social at all. I still have my Insta and LinkedIn accounts, but I’m not doing anything with them.

WordPress is and always will be my place. Monetizing was never a major focus for me, but now that I’ve deliberately scaled way back on that, it’s nice not to think about it at all. Simplicity is a good thing. Getting neurons to connect is hard, and simplicity makes it easier.

It seems like COVID has led to higher than usual fluctuations in the blogging population. There will always be people who stop blogging in a given year, but it seems like there have been a lot more people who’ve disappeared in the past year. I guess some of us deal with stressful times by blogging more while others step away.

Has your online world, or your blogging habits specifically, changed since pre-COVID times?

Book cover: Managing the Depression Puzzle by Ashley L. Peterson, showing head made of puzzle pieces

Managing the Depression Puzzle takes a holistic look at the different potential pieces that might fit into your unique depression puzzle.

It’s available on Amazon and Google Play.

67 thoughts on “My Depression’s Cooling Relationship with Social Media”

      1. Seconded! I know you have plenty of blogs to read yet you consistently comment on mine, and I know I write long and heavy stuff!

        I always appreciate your guinea pig photos, but most of all, your words here. I especially like your Weekend Wrap Up posts because I like to know how my friends are.

  1. Due to my avoiding messager because of my old job. I have not been on Facebook. I miss it only as a time suck. Otherwise it was getting on my last nerve with all the political talk. I’m thinking of deleting it.

  2. I deleted my facebook account years ago and many other social media platforms. I don’t miss it. I hear a lot of advice or talk that social media can draw more traffic and attention to your blog and such which I get, but I feel like I don’t need to do it the same way everyone else does. If that makes sense? It is too much of a time suck. I also once had a internet/social media addiction you could say in my teens and I don’t miss it or have plans to go back to it ever.

    1. That definitely makes sense. There’s only so much time to go around, and putting a bunch of time into social media just to get a a few blog views isn’t necessarily the most effective way of spending time.

  3. I want to give you props for noticing that even though social media isn’t your thing, it’s still an indicator of other things going on with your mental health. That’s a good level of awareness that I’ve been working on improving, and I really like that term ‘multi-functional’ – thank you for sharing.

  4. I’m sorry you’re less functional.

    I haven’t been on Facebook for years. I’m trying to stay off Twitter (I don’t post, but sometimes read). Never been on Instagram or Pinterest. Lately I’m trying to limit internet use in general on my therapist’s suggestion. It does seem to make me more present-centred with less procrastinating, less comparing myself to others and fewer negative thoughts in general.

  5. You are a shining light on here my friend. I’ve become very mindful of my social media intake too, as it can really drain me. Sending you so much ❤

  6. I don’t really like Facebook much at all anymore. I try to stay off it for the most part. Otherwise I just end up in arguments. I do like Instagram and TikTok quite a bit. I can waste too much time on TikTok lol.

  7. You speak of one being multi-functional. I find that very difficult. I have to gear up for everything that I do, and force myself to do a lot of things. That, my friend, is mental illness in action.

  8. Social media is a huge catalyst for anxiety, it can be such a brain drain. I’m pretty much only active on social media with my blog stuff, otherwise I’m more of a post and go person. My life contracted a bit too with the pandemic as dynamics shifted.

  9. These times are so so hard 🙁 It speaks volumes to you to notice where your mental health is suffering instead of letting it sneak up on you. And I can’t even blame you for not wanting to be on social media right now, it’s like a dumpster fire. I deactivated my Facebook months ago, and I really try to limit Twitter. I do really enjoy Instagram, but that’s because I mostly follow bookish type people so I get a lot of book recommends and cat photos 🙂 I’ll try to find you on there, I’d love guinea pig photos.

  10. Except for blogland, social media sucks imo. It just drags down my mood in all kinds of ways, from ppl speculating about doomsday to others so productive it makes me ashamed to still others always so hap hap happy in relationships. Ugh! But blogging isn’t like that. It’s just fun! You could view it as a perfectly rational decision to stay away from other platforms…

  11. I can relate to this so much! My writing really jumped off these last few months stemming from just writing a single piece. I also began social media accounts to promote that and realize now I am struggling at times to have the want to keep up. I do what I can, which is all we can do. My best changes every day so every day I do my best, no matter what that may be from day to day. Thank you for touching on this!

  12. I haven’t been on social media as much lately. I think at least part of it has to do with becoming more involved with blogging… I enjoy it more than any of the social media platforms I’m on. I feel like I can fully express myself and I can interact with people who are doing the same. On social media there seems to be more of an expectation of keeping everything positive and superficial. Gets kinda old keeping up the pretense I guess. From some of the other comments I’m reading I don’t think I’m alone here.🙂

  13. True.Social media not helping people in a great way.But how is that it’s popular? I get confused and wonder why people exhaust to get more traffic? If the post is good somebody from somewhere at sometime going to read it.Forget about likes and follows….less said better.But if somebody is benefitted by our posts as in your case,it’s service to humanity. Thank you 🙏🏻

  14. I really have a love hate relationship with social media. I’ve always been on twitter but just changed my ‘handle’ to reflect my blog. I started on Pinterest, I’ve just opened a FB page, I’ve looked at Medium and other social media but I feel like I’m drowning. I can’t keep up with it all. And while places like Pinterest and Twitter can drive people to our blogs, I feel like I can’t commit to them. I might even unsubscribe to them as they’re distracting me from my blog, which is where my main interest lies.

    Thank you for this post Ashley, it’s made me think, and I agree ‘that it is an indicator of a reduced ability to be multi-functional.’

    1. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by it all, and probably the most important thing is choosing what platforms, if any, are most in line with your main purpose. One of the reasons I got into Pinterest was that I found it was a great way for me to collect interesting information, which gave it a purpose aside from just trying to promote my blog.

      1. I recently started using Pinterest and FB, but not often enough to gather more followers. But, like you, I find interesting stuff on there.

        However, I find myself spending all day reading stuff on social media and blogs or writing just one post, and responding to comments.

        Honestly, I don’t know how you manage it all Ashley.

          1. Me neither, but the days just seem to run away from me.

            I think I’m normally motivated and confident but that’s not the problem. I just think I’m really slow. I’ve been online since 9 a.m. and all I’ve completed is one lousy post!

  15. This is a really good blog and one I can relate to!! My only 2 social media apps that I have used are Facebook and Whatsapp, and since lockdown I have used both of them a lot less. I think the way we use social media is important, some people use social media and get drawn in by unhealthy comparisons or they scroll through facebook feeds for an hour as a form of procastination. Neither of these are good ways of using social media. Thanks for sharing! I actually wrote a blog recently on the pros and cons of social media!

    Feel free to read some of my blogs 🙂

  16. My inactivity across all platforms has only recently began to bother me. I, like you, kicked Facebook long ago without second thought but it is my love for Instagram, Pinterest, and WordPress that I feel I’ve “lost” out on. Not to an extreme degree but it is becoming increasingly apparent that I return. It isn’t the “social” aspect for me rather the release I find myself resisting. I’ve never understood how my mental state works but I have come to accept that I will always need a space to dump my emotional, ruminating thoughts.

      1. You too!! You are my first stop each time I pull WordPress up. It brings a spark of “proud friend” to my day 🤓 You impress me in many ways that inspire me to press forward despite any tribulations that may come my way and you always make coming to WordPress an informational experience. It’s great to see you still active, although, not as active (according to you). I am slowly making my way back😀

  17. My mental state is so much better without social media. Other than browsing Pinterest, reading blogs on WordPress and watching the occasional YouTube video I’m free from the burden and toxicity of major social media platforms. People are just so mean on Twitter, Facebook, etc. I felt so much relief when I deleted my accounts. I prefer to be around people I know, love and that are uplifting.

  18. Social media is hard on our mental health :-(. Have you seen the social dilemma? It’s a very insightful documentary on the ways social media has become a source of harm. I’m glad your blog brings you joy! 🤗 I totally relate to your experience, as WordPress is the media I majorly to focus on.

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