*This is a long, personal post that discusses my journey with anxiety and how I deal with social media.*
I know most of my blog posts are related to my books, but I’ve decided to participate in a blog response to Platypire Reviews on the topic of anxiety and social media. Because I try to keep my personal life separate from my professional life, many of you don’t know that I have suffered from anxiety since I was a teen. It’s been something I’ve never really opened up about due to shame. But I’m opening up now because anxiety is nothing to be ashamed about. It’s more of a shame that I felt that way in the first place and took so long to talk about it.
You see, I used to internalize everything, and it’s one of the reasons I began writing in the first place. My journal was my safe place to talk about things, to write down what I was going through, and to sort through my emotions. And then, my characters became my safe place for the struggle I face every single day. It’s what led me to write my next book, Life After Lila, the story of a girl who suffers from extreme anxiety and depression after losing her best friend. It was my way of speaking out about my anxiety through the story of Coco Caraway. Coco’s story is NOT my story. It is hers and solely hers. I did take inspiration from my everyday life, though.
My anxiety wasn’t always so bad. When it came to socializing both online and in person I was able to manage. I could push through it and act like I wasn’t freaking out inside. But over time and after experiencing some life-changing circumstances, my anxiety peaked. I started closing myself off to the world because every little thing would make me panic. I stopped answering my phone, stopped going out, stopped driving, stopped watching the news, and basically only left my house with my husband. My anxiety isolated me from the world I used to love to be a part of. It made me physically ill even thinking about stepping outside or talking to someone on the phone. It even got to the point where I’d go days without sleeping. The only thing that kept me in touch with the world outside of my house was social media.
Being an author, talking to readers, bloggers, and other authors online became my social life. It was social media and interacting with others that helped me recognize I’d fallen so deeply into my anxiety that it affected my way of life. It was then that I sought help from my physician and started speaking out about what I was going through with people closest to me, and the reason I’ve pursued publishing Life After Lila. It helped me see that I wasn’t alone, and I wanted others to see that they aren’t alone either. Social media has allowed me to grow relationships with people I’d never get the chance to meet otherwise. And while having to force myself to interact or to schedule posts to stay active, social media has given me a way to cope as long as I avoid the things that give me anxiety.
But navigating social media and dealing with my anxiety hasn’t been easy. For one, putting myself out there, even online, was difficult. Everything takes so much longer because I will read a single sentence over and over again before deciding to post it, and sometimes, I’d end up not posting it. The hardest part of social media and anxiety, especially when it comes to being an author, is that I feel like I must always be around online and always respond to people who reach out to me—and I do try. I love when people contact me and want to talk to me, but I get anxiety when I can’t answer right away. Because a lot of platforms tell the sender that a message has been opened, I find myself not opening messages until I can sit down to reply even if I do want to read it immediately. So, if you ever message me, thank you! I appreciate hearing from you, and I love interacting with you. Know that I always do my best to respond, but it might not always be immediately and sometimes I just can’t. It took me a long time to realize that it’s okay if I don’t always reply to posts or interact. Realizing my limitations has made managing my social media so much better.
Another struggle I face when it comes to my anxiety and social media is that I do put my work out there for people to read—hopefully to enjoy, but there are times people don’t. And I get that. Not everyone loves everything, me included. While I’ve grown used to it, I’ve struggled with that aspect of social media because of how certain retailers put a huge emphasis on reviews. The worst thing to ever happen to me on social media was having someone tag me in a less than stellar review of one of my books, a review I would not have seen otherwise, and it led me to the decision not to always read reviews posted to save me from anxiety.
Before I published my first novel, I used to go to author signings and writers’ conferences. It was one of the aspects I really loved. And it was something I always dreamed about doing. Being an author means so much more than someone who writes a book. I must also market my books and be present online. My first book, Destined for Dreams, came out in 2014. And even though it’s been almost three years, I’ve never accomplished my dream of doing a signing due to my anxiety. The thought of having people focus on me brings on a wave of dread. But I do plan on having a signing in the next year or two. But when? Where? I have no idea yet.
With saying all of that, if you suffer from anxiety, I want you to know that you should never be embarrassed about it. You might not want to publicly write a blog post like I have, but you should tell someone, even if it’s anonymously. Talking to my doctor and coming up with a plan was the best thing I’ve ever done. My biggest regret with my anxiety is that I suffered in silence for so long. I just thought it was the way my life would always be—but that was my anxiety shutting me down, shutting me out, taking away my way of living. It was forcing me to think that the girl who would jump in the car without a real destination and drive, who would smile and talk to strangers in hopes of brightening their day, who would make plans and follow through, who didn’t think the world was ending at any moment was just a stranger from my past. I want you to know that it is okay to get help—you have nothing to be ashamed about. I only wish I had known this sooner. Also, never apologize for what you’re dealing with, because apologizing means it’s your fault, and it’s not.
Thank you so much for reading about my journey with anxiety. Everything stated above is solely my opinion and what has been my experience. I recognize that everyone’s story with anxiety is different. But know you’re not alone.
This blog was in response to a post from Platypire Reviews. If you’d like to share your own response, follow the instructions below.
Discussion Challenge (From Platypire Reviews)
Here’s how to play. Once you’re tagged, write an article using the questions listed at the bottom. You can always expand as much as you’d like, but it isn’t a requirement. (Don’t forget to acknowledge the blog that you got the prompt from!) Under the article, tag a blogger or three to participate after you and make sure to include the questions at the bottom. Oh, and you can post it wherever you feel comfortable. This means your facebook/blog/tumblr/whatever else I’m forgetting.
If you want to start your own just make sure to come up with a handful of questions to help encourage a rounded out article. Don’t forget to include the rules as well. Also, and this isn’t required, you should totally tag me on FACEBOOK or TWITTER so I can participate with yours.
Please feel free to submit your article to our weekly review/article/giveaway roundup. This would be considered a response article, unless you’ve come up with the topic yourself. You can submit them here: Deja Revu
- Have you come out about your anxiety?
- How does your anxiety ever impact how you interact on social media?
- Do you have to push yourself to reply back to people?
- Is there anything that spurs you on to complete a goal?
- When your anxiety gets bad, how is your presence affected?
- When you finally come out of a bad period of anxiety do you feel you need to compensate with lots of material?
- What’s one of the worst experiences (you feel comfortable sharing) you’ve had with your blog/page because of anxiety?
- Do you participate in book signings? If so, how do you handle them?
- What sort of support system do you have in place, if any?
- Is there any advice you wish you had before you started your page/blog?