As we kick off Mental Health Awareness Month I want to begin with some insight that my son had over the weekend into how social media really steals the joy from our lives. He shares this piece of writing with me and I was struck by how it opened my eyes to the connection between social media and our military mental health. His excerpt highlights the reality of living with the challenges of depression and how we can feel alone even in a room full of people. I read it and got a loud and clear message that I think we all need to hear. So I ask you…
Military Mental Health:
Is Social Media Stealing Your Happiness? by Geoffrey Davis
Sitting at my favorite coffee shop with a group of friends I wonder why I feel so alone. Why do I feel like I’m the only one who wants to be here? I’m surrounded by my best friends who are absent of mind all who seem to be controlled by this small rectangle in their hands that seems to dictate what we are doing at all times. As I look around the table, I see that I’m the only one who isn’t staring at this little screen in my hand and can’t help but wonder if there is something wrong with me.
Being someone who has depression and PTSD, I get that there will always be this little voice in the back of my head that tells me I’m not good enough, that no one likes me. It’s as if that voice is just lying there waiting for the perfect moment to strike, and seeing the people i really care about sitting across from me, but at the same time somewhere else entirely, gives that voice a chance to have a field day in my head. I have come to the realization that these types of thoughts will never go away. I know its something I will have to live with for the rest of my life and I’m okay with that. Better yet I’ve come to terms with it.
If I’ve learned one thing from my experience it is to be in the moment and enjoy whats happening around me. Not whats gonna happen, or what happened yesterday, but whats happening right now. When they say to be in the moment I take that to mean to be present in the here and now. And let me stress the importance on the here! But as I look around I guess my generation kind of missed the point with social media, texting, surfing the internet.
You can do all of these things anywhere you want to and while I will admit it is pretty cool, there is a downside to mobile communication. It takes people away from whats right in front of their face – actual human
connection. You know that thing that makes us feel a part of something.
Not to say I’m perfect because I can get caught up in it just as easily as anyone else, but for me the more I feel connected online the less I feel connected in real life. And that’s never a good thing when you are struggling with mental and behavioral health stuff.
I want to issue a challenge to you all, the next time you’re hanging out with friends or just having a conversation, put down the screen and see whats right in front of you. If you are out in nature, watching a sunset, or on a hike, instead of taking a picture just look at beauty all around you. Experience it in real life, and don’t lessen the moment so you can show everyone on Facebook, or Snapchat that you are having fun. Just enjoy the moment for the fucking miracle that it is. The miracle that you are alive today to truly enjoy whats going on in the here and now.
~Geoffrey Davis is a speaker and author who is winning the battle that comes with mental illness. He is the co-founder of DASIUM a company leading the way in the prevention of depression, addiction and suicide in teens and young adults and wrote the book Warning Signs to bring hope to families across the nation.