Depression in a Digital Age is a book where author Fiona Thomas discusses her life with mental illness and how she found herself online and what this meant for her struggles with anxiety and depression.
It was a relevantly easy read and I found it very relatable. As someone who struggles with mental illness and now has a job surrounding social media, I understood many of the problems she had got herself into.
She spends a lot of the book describing herself as an imposter. First, it was because she had got promoted to a manager position at her job and didn’t feel she had the capabilities. I know when I was working in retail there were days where I was acting manager when the manager wasn’t in store and I was always so confused. My sales weren’t necessarily the highest and I wasn’t the best when it came to customer service as an introverted who hates most people. What made it more difficult was I would have to give out tasks to people who were a few years older than me and I always thought they wouldn’t take me seriously because of this. Fiona explains how she is meant to manage a group of staff, supervise shifts and make sure everything was in order whilst on the inside her anxiety was eating her up. She would have to hide in the toilet and have panic attacks so that no one thought she was a “fraud”.
Then it was because she was sat in the doctor’s office waiting for her appointment seeing all the people around her and she didn’t feel she was “sick” enough to be there. Whilst she was sat there waiting there was a woman there who could barely walk and she almost got up to leave. It took me years before I would see the doctor about my depression. I kept having nightmares where I would speak to the doctor and they would laugh in my face because I wasn’t “depressed enough”. It was comforting to hear that someone else had felt exactly what I had.
“I didn’t want to wear a pretty outfit, have a well-presented house or get praise at work for doing a good job. I didn’t want to be the boss any more. There was no joy in anything anymore.”
Throughout the book, she discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using social media when it comes to suffering from mental illness. She talks about how she discovered blogging and decided to tell her story on the internet for the world to see. By doing this she met people with similar struggles and was able to connect and make best friends with people she never would have met were it not for the internet.
She also talks about how in the beginning the numbers of followers and likes were leading her to become obsessed. Waking up an hour early before work just so she could post blog links to get the most amount of page views as she could. It was only after she took a week away from it did she realise that none of it mattered. No one noticed she was gone or not uploading a selfie because they were all too busy with their own lives.
The most important point she discusses is that even though she is now self-aware of what she is struggling with and has gone through recovery, she will still have bad days. I think a lot of people assume you can be 100% cured from depression and you can’t. You can have days where you feel the happiest you’ve ever felt but you still sometimes have a relapse. Sometimes this can last an hour, a day or a whole week. But I know, like Fiona found out herself, if I ever had a bad day there is a community of mental health sufferers and bloggers that would be happy to help, as I would for them.
The internet isn’t always bad for your mental health.
Gracie Victoria Hemphill x