The year was 2018 and the month was October. I was 24 then. It was not like any other day, but it was like any other day during those days. I was feeling restless, depressed, lonely, and helpless. During my time in Ireland, I felt many things all together, which overwhelmed me. I couldn’t sleep or eat. There, I suffered from depression so severe that I didn’t recognize myself. I got so frustrated with everything, I wanted to disappear, and there came a time when the buzzing of the phone also haunted me.
Let me clarify something here, I didn’t want to die. I was not suicidal. I wanted to disappear, vanish but not die. Few people might understand these sentences, and many might not.
I wanted to get rid of my phone, but I couldn’t do that as I was miles away from my home and family. I wanted to get rid of everything. My clothes, shoes, bags, suitcases, books… everything. As much as I wanted to enjoy my time there, I just couldn’t.
It was time that I got rid of the buzzing on my phone, so I turned my phone into silent mode. I turned off the notifications of all the applications. After some time, I received a call from my mother, who asked me to come online on Whatsapp for a video call. As she asked me that, I told her no and realized that it doesn’t matter if I turned off the notifications; the applications are still there.
I started deactivating my accounts.
The First application I got off was Twitter, then Facebook, then it was Snapchat, then Instagram, and in the end, it was Whatsapp. I didn’t get off Whatsapp until I was back in India. Yes, I had very little of my right mind left in that depression, and that leftover mind told me not to uninstall Whatsapp till I reach back home. So, I didn’t.
Here I am, 2.5 years later.
These years spent without social media on my phone were relieving.
Although the beginning of it was my suffering, I didn’t hesitate even for a second to deactivate my accounts.
Now, as per the regulations of these social media sites, a profile can be deactivated for a certain amount of time, and after that, there are chances it might get deleted from social media. I followed that rule. I kept my account deactivated till the maximum time, and then I would activate it just to deactivate it again. The time when my account would be activated, the application would not exist on my phone. Not that it did otherwise.
In these years, I focused on my suffering to not experience it to this extent again. I cannot say that I won’t face it again, but I am mindful of it now. Anyway, I tried to understand my existence which is a question yet to be answered. I went to places where I didn’t have to check-in, or put a story or post a picture, just because… I wasn’t obligated to people wanting me to come online on Whatsapp and chat with them there because it was “free.” Anyone who wanted to talk to me was most welcome to text me. The old school SMS and I responded. Yes, I was told I am crazy, and some people didn’t believe that I was off social media. I was aware of what was happening around me rather than bending down my neck and sticking my eyes on my phone because I was bored. I took care of the fact that I need to be alright first.
I was super confused about what I have to do with my life and how I will manage myself in distress. This time, when I didn’t have to answer people to questions like “why aren’t you replying?”, “Why aren’t you commenting back?”, “Why aren’t you posting anything?”… I tried my best to make myself mentally healthy and understandable just to myself. It is hard when people don’t understand you, but it is more challenging when you can’t understand yourself. I tried to let my mind focus on what interests me. I gradually opened up to my old self though it is not yet done completely, but I have the want to be my old self.
Today (22-04-2021), after re-activating my Instagram last night, I would say that I am officially back on social media. After 2.5 years, I feel I can manage my emotions while dealing with the “savage” environment that is the 21st century. Yes, it took a lot of time, but it also brought out a lot of strength.
Strength? Strength to at least try to focus, strength to want to be seen. Strength to want to know what I am feeling and why. Strength to capture the little bit of happiness I feel now. Strength to accept that even though I might not be alright again, I will still try to understand the reason behind it.
It is not a shame to look out for your physical health while keeping your mental health in check. Not fixating your eyes on the phone’s screen is one of the significant physical health benefits when you are off social media. Having surety for your shoulders and neck that are not bending on the mercy of the 6″ inch phone screen in your hand. Going to the washroom and doing your business with an open body rather than a social media app opened to entertain you, even for those few minutes.
I will not say that all of this happened because I was off social media, but I would say that if you wish to focus on the deepest parts of yourself, then get off social media for some time and start to understand who you really are.