Instagram vs. Reality: Blogging with Depression

I'll be honest, I DON'T want to write this post. It's going to be hard to do, and I'm scared of it.

I also really DO want to write this post -- and have wanted to for a long time. I think it's important.

This post is about social media and depression, both mine & yours. 

My take on Instagram vs. Reality.

Instagram vs. Reality: Blogging with Depression

Instagram vs. Reality: Blogging with Depression

I was inspired to write this today by my good friend Erica. She wrote a post this morning called Instagram vs. Reality -- highlighting specific examples of how people alter their body image to be more appealing online (similar to a photoshopped magazine cover), and the negative effect that can have on all of us.

I totally agree.

And I actually think there are two distinct kinds of Instagram vs. Reality:

  1. Showcasing altered images of your body and life -- like what Erica shared this morning
  2. Choosing only a small subset of your life to document and share -- this is what MY post is about.

Both are really important voices to add to the same larger conversation, and I hope you find them both helpful.

Thanks for reading. <3

Some Background

If you've been following me on instagram, you'll know that I don't reveal too much about myself, good or bad!

It's almost all food pics. And it's a food blog, so that makes sense. 

So I really surprised a lot of you last week by sharing some facts about myself on my story: two super positive facts you didn't know, and one "negative" fact:

  1. I graduated from Princeton with honors, and won a thesis award
  2. I've dealt with major depression twice in my adult life, and am actively being treated by a psychiatrist
  3. I've traveled to 15 countries, including some really epic once-in-a-lifetime trips
Princeton with Honors
Depression & Success
World Travel

I hadn't shared any of this info before -- good or bad.

And that's the point of this post.

You all have only gotten a glimpse of one narrow part of my life these past 3 years. While everything I share is real (vs. being altered like a magazine), it's just a small peek into my life that excludes BOTH the really great times and also the really tough times.

312food is a dedicated food blog, so it makes sense that I don't regularly talk about my depression or brag about my Ivy League accomplishments (because who the heck wants to read that).

And yet as my following has grown larger, I've felt a responsibility to publicly acknowledge that there is more going on than what I regularly share.

So, with the objective sharing my broader story, here's a peek behind the curtain. Here's some context into my struggles -- things I've personally encountered as I've built 312food from the ground up.

Thanks for following along these past few years, and thanks for reading this now.

You Should Know That:

  1. I used to have really bad days with my depression where I couldn't get out of bed. Sometimes I'd post a beautiful photo of a meal on instagram when in reality I was lying on my couch, unshowered, unmotivated, and depressed. I've been seeing a psychiatrist weekly for almost two years and am on medication, and I'm a lot better. But it's been a struggle -- one you haven't seen at all.
  2. I went through a phase where I was REALLY unconfident. I started my instagram in 2015 at one of the lowest points in my life. It took me almost 6 months to put just my first name on my account, and much much longer to show my face in snaps or stories. Looking back, I was living somewhat of a parallel life -- building this beautifully curated food account and taking ZERO credit for what I was doing. It's a strange concept to have shared SO much and yet so little at the same time.
  3. I used to get really intimidated by other bloggers in my peer group. I felt like they had more in common with each other than with me, and I'd feel super left out, even in small groups. I get my feelings hurt really easily, especially if I think people are being insincere. But at least half the time, it's in my head. I have met SO MANY wonderful people through instagram -- bloggers and followers alike. I'm really grateful.
  4. Sometimes I let my fear of failure hold me back from taking a leap to do something new. I watch friends and peers launch amazing ventures, and I feel like I sit on most of my ideas without taking the plunge. It would be easy to see my account from a distance and think I've got it all figured out. But I have a LOT of figuring out to do -- just like everyone else.

Instagram vs. Reality: A Juxtaposition

So, why the heck am I telling you this???

To really prove my main point -- that you wouldn't know or even suspect any of this if I didn't just tell you.

That's it!

So, I'd like to sum all it up with a photo I posted 2.5 years ago, when I first started my instagram, and a few paragraphs I wrote that same day:

VS. REALITY

Written on August 14, 2015 (same day as the latte post)
"It's Friday morning and I'm posting this beautiful, clean, crisp shot of my latte to the 2000 followers on my new insta food account. But I'm not at the coffee shop. I'm at home, sad, unshowered, and sitting on the couch in my pajamas -- not drinking coffee, and not cleaning my very messy apartment or doing anything else I'm supposed to be doing. The rest of my day isn't going to get much better.
 
This latte is from two days prior. I took at least seventeen photos of it in the store to make sure I got one that was good enough to then edit and post, and I waited 2 days to post it so I could put it in the right "place" in my feed. My morning -- and my life -- is nothing like this perfect moment I've shared or this beautiful instagram profile I'm working so hard to curate.
 
There's absolutely nothing wrong with highlighting beauty -- and in fact, there is a lot to be said for finding beauty in everyday moments. It brings me a LOT of joy at an otherwise hard time in my life. But I think there might be far more beauty in the contrast -- finding that same beauty in more complicated moments, and balancing it with the reality of our everyday experiences. 
 
I wish I could better embrace that contrast, and better share it with others.

So ... Now What?

I don't think I can solve the world's problems (or even my own!) with this post -- but I hope this peek into my life helped you in some way.

People always say facebook and instagram are a "highlight reel" -- and while we all know this on some level, I tried to make that as concrete as possible with my examples here. 

I truly hope you found this interesting and helpful. And if you have ideas of how I can advance this conversation further, I'd love to hear them!

And if you've read this far, thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart. I am beyond grateful to you for participating in this dialogue with both me and Erica today. Let's keep it going!

Instagram vs. Reality: Blogging with Depression. Can you relate?

7 Comments

  1. Anjelica
    January 31, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    I am so happy you shared your story. Reading it couldn’t have come at a better time. It truly hit home…hard. At the end of the day we are all human, whether we blog, do makeup or run a restaurant; being our authentic self is important and often hard when trying to live up to unrealistic societal expectations. Finding a way to balance it all out and not get swept away in it is key. Sharing your story will help someone even if you least expect it because I know it certainly helped me just take a deep breath when I needed it most today. Cheers to your honesty and seeing more posts like this. Your open heart makes me love following your journey even more!

  2. January 31, 2018 / 8:01 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this – it meant so much to read and I know I’m not the only one who needed a reminder that stigma is just that – no one is perfect and we all have a struggle! Sending love. I love you insta and it makes me happy.

  3. Francesca
    January 31, 2018 / 8:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing! This was so refreshing to see. I love what you and Erica are doing to make some of the social media world more honest. It’s been such a great reminder from you both. Sending some love and appreciation! I love the openness and honesty with breaking the stigma. ❤️

  4. Sandy
    January 31, 2018 / 10:00 pm

    Social media can be a house of mirrors. I really appreciate that you shared this.

  5. January 31, 2018 / 11:59 pm

    Thank you for writing so candidly about your thoughts and emotions. You’re a bright light! Xo

  6. February 1, 2018 / 7:37 am

    So proud of you for sharing. Life seems so perfect on the outside, but sharing how you really feel is when you make the most incredible discoveries of yourself.
    My story about mental health is on my website

  7. Rachel
    February 1, 2018 / 3:46 pm

    You truly have no idea how much I relate to this. I have a much smaller following, but I never talk about my struggles. Only the amazing food I am cooking or eating. Maybe a peep here or there into my work from home life. I put my face on my acct one day. Just once in 3 years! It’s not like I have anything to hide, but the fact I am not owning what I am doing drives me nuts. I made a promise to myself this year that I would get more personal, and you are helping me see it is doable. Thank you for putting yourself out there. We all appreciate it SO much!

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