Theodora shared a really heart wrenching link on Facebook today that stopped me in my tracks. It was about a 19 year old girl, Madison, a runner, who committed suicide after suffering from depression. To most outside her close friends and family, it didn’t seem like there was anything wrong. Certainly, her social media presence was always positive, smiling and happy.
Suicide is something really close to my heart, after one of my best friends, Vic, took his own life after battling with depression. The grief surrounding losing him was actually the catalyst I needed to start running. I signed up to run the London Marathon in his memory, and it changed my life.
We present such a perfect, carefully constructed world on social media, showing how wonderful our breakfast was, or how hard we worked out. There is so much going on behind the scenes that we don’t share.
This photo that I posted on instagram of me at the top of Ditchling Beacon shows me cycling my new road bike, smiling.
In reality I was on the verge of tears. I had made it to the top and we were nearly in Brighton, but the weather was awful. I was terrified of the long descent down in the pouring rain. I was annoyed with myself for feeling so slow and unfit on the bike. I was sad that I’d spent most of the ride cycling behind my friends as I wasn’t fast enough to ride with them. I was cross that they were so far ahead that I’d got lost after taking a wrong turning (and cried). I was apprehensive about our upcoming London to Paris ride, fearing that it would be much the same.
Normally I would have kept these feelings inside, or just talked to Tom and my Mum about them, but on this occasion I voiced them to my friends. I am so glad I chatted with them about how I was feeling, it meant that they looked out for me on our ride to Paris and ensured that I never felt sad or lost or worried.
It’s OK not to be OK, and it’s OK not to only share the good things on social media.
Madison’s friends are encouraging others to share their #lifeunfiltered on social media- share yours using the hashtag. And next time you scroll through you instagram feed or twitter, or read someone’s blog, remember they are probably not sharing the whole story behind the glossy image!
Thanks for writing this Charlie. Early last year someone in my family died from suicide. No one had a clue he was suffering and he was the very epitome of ‘beautiful wife and a beautiful life’. Depression is not visible, and its important that we keep giving others, and ourselves, the space to say, “You know what, today I’m not okay”. ”
I’m so sorry for your loss. We need to keep talking about it, particularly with boys/men as it affects so many. x
I agree. You’ve written so well about this subject. Keep talking to those around you and maybe they’ll start opening up too.
Thanks Mum!! <3
Thanks for this post Charlie. Comparison is something I struggle with as regards social media – I have to remind myself that we don’t see the full story of anyone’s life on social media. I think it’s good to have a break every now and then from scanning Facebook and Instagram feeds – or at least ration to, say, twice a day. These channels are great for sharing and keeping in touch but we must be wary of their downfalls sometimes.
I came across your blog today, searching for the piece I’d read on Madison. I was more than a little shocked to find out that I knew Vic about 11 years ago, and that we were at/in Leeds at the same time, and that somehow I hadn’t heard he’d died at his own hand. I’m so sorry for your loss and, as someone who struggles with depression myself, wholeheartedly support the campaign to remind people you don’t get a complete picture from the things people post on social media. Be well, Charlie x
Wow Ash, thanks so much for your comment and I am so so sorry that you had to find out that way. These things happen far too regularly and I think we need to keep talking about it and make it less taboo! xxx