How social media and online friendship can aid mental health and positivity

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the rough times that lots of people around me are having, myself included. This month seems to have been a particularly crappy month for everyone in general. It’s easy to forget that most people wear their “mask of happy” (please don’t buy yours from the Happy Mask Salesman from The Legend of Zelda – he’s a bit of a con merchant) on a regular basis, purely to hide the perfectly normal and understandable emotions that we all have to deal with as part of everyday life. These feelings, until very recently have been a bit of a societal taboo and are often not widely acceptable topics of discussion. They should be. We all have shit days. We all feel down from time to time. Even people who already own a Nintendo Switch and Breath of the Wild (I promise I’m not jealous).

Mental health has started to become more acceptable in modern day life, as social media makes it easier for us to Tweet, “I need a hug, having a rubbish day”. Thankfully, because social media makes it so easy for us to reach out, it also means that the people watching on the other end of their screens can keep our chins up and make us feel better. I have lots of online friends who rather frequently find themselves sending me virtual hugs because I’m down. I do the same for them.

I find I’m genuinely surprised at the amount of people who come across as happy-go-lucky and upbeat, only to discover that it’s a facade because they’re having lots of life issues and are trying their best to maintain an appearance of Teflon – that everything bounces off them. It kind of makes me sad because those people are my friends and they’re so lovely and I hate that the world can make them sad and I can’t physically be there to give them a hug or take them for ice cream and make them feel better. But from a personal perspective, I do find that social media helps when I’m down.

This month has been a particularly difficult one for me. My boyfriend’s dad is in ill health, my immediate family are going through some tough times and we had my beloved cat at the emergency vets last weekend, to the tune of £400 in vet’s fees. He was in such distress that we couldn’t sleep for days.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been getting by on roughly three hours sleep a night, hardly eating because my appetite is close to non-existent and to top it all off we are now totally skint until payday. To say I am almost defeated is a bit of an understatement. It’s times like this that I feel as though it is never going to get better and I will be on rock bottom forever.

The reality is that it is normal for me to get the entire year’s worth of bad luck all at the same time and then be spiffy for the rest of the year. Whilst this sounds ideal, it’s pretty rough when the bad times arrive.

I once read a series of books by Phillipa Gregory based on the Plantagenets. In the series, one of the characters is alleged to be a sorceress and talks about the “Wheel of Fortune”. She claims that everyone rides the Wheel of Fortune and eventually we all get to the bottom and have a run of bad luck, but eventually, at some point, we will ride it back around to the top. I live by this because it is entirely accurate in my life. We seem to be riding the wheel at the bottom pretty hard this month. It keeps me going to think that it’s not forever and will all go back to normal soon, but I’m still battling through each day and so I appreciate the messages I get from my friends, or the video calls I get where my friends are telling me jokes or singing at me, or the stupid games of golf that have me howling laughing so quickly.

You’ve probably been in the same position, where hope seems lost. Always remember that you should never judge a person’s story when you’ve only read one chapter and that despite the fact that people might be wearing their mask of happy, doesn’t mean that you can’t still be there for them and make them feel as though they can show their real emotions in front of you and you won’t run away, you’ll be supportive and try and cheer them up and pick them up as much as you can.

Let’s start spreading that love and making sure all our friends, online, in real life or otherwise, know that we have their backs and they can lean on us. Mental health matters as much as physical health and can be the cause of a lot of physical ailments so let’s get spreading that love!

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