How Instagram Is Helping My Recovery From An Eating Disorder
#HereForYou is all about how Instagram helps users with mental health problems...
WARNING: this piece deals with eating disorders and their effects. Some readers may find the content upsetting.
Instagram have launched a new campaign called Here For You to mark Mental Health Awareness Week this week, and it’s all about positively connecting users with mental health conditions.
Because while millions take to Instagram to upload selfies, sunsets and bikini pics (#nofilter), there’s a whole community of Insta users posting about their mental health, using hashtags that connect them to those going through similar experiences.
According to one study users with mental health problems could benefit from using Instagram as you’re able to visually express yourself, receive support from people who are going through the same thing, and make sense of your experiences.
We caught up with 18-year-old Sacha Cuddy, one of Instagram’s Here For You campaign gals who’s been using her Insta profile to document her struggle with anorexia, to find out if Instagram has helped her:
When were you diagnosed with anorexia and when did you start your recovery process?
I was diagnosed in February 2015 which was my lowest point, I was living off less than what would be classed as a "crash diet", and there came a point where I refused to drink tap water in case someone "put butter or oil in it to make me fat". I began recovery in May 2016 through no choice of my own, which was the best thing for me.
Why did you decide to create an Instagram account dedicated to your recovery?
When I was really unwell in 2015, I used to look at all the body positivity and recovery accounts and say to myself that I'll never be like them. Close to my discharge at my second hospital admission, I wanted to prove myself wrong.
Has your profile helped you to get better? If so, how?
You could say that, yeah. Not in a sense of, "I can eat anything I want now!" but in how I overcome intrusive thoughts and urges.
Instagram makes me want to keep inspiring people.
Have you got positive feedback from other Instagram users?
I've had loads and loads of messages from other users telling me I'm the first person they've told about their eating disorder, and they tell me I inspire them and make them believe that one day they'll be able to look in the mirror and accept what they see.
Do you think that obsessive gym selfies and calorie-counting food posts on Insta could potentially contribute to destructive attitudes towards dieting and exercising? Is Instagram more of a positive or negative tool for people with eating disorders?
It all depends on how you use it. If you use it to constantly compare other peoples' portion sizes and body checks it's unhelpful. But I see lots of people using it the way I do, to spread positivity and hope.
Do you think Instagram is a positive tool for people with mental health conditions in general?
Hell yeah! It's so comforting to connect with lots of people who struggle with the same things as me! I thought I'd never talk to someone who understands the stress of turning lights off and on with their foot until they feel safe! I usually get, "What the hell Sacha?" so it's nice to get a different response like, "Oh my gosh, me too!"
Other Insta users/ mental health campaigners who’re taking part in Instagram’s mental health campaign are Elyse Fox (@elyse.fox) and Luke Ambler (@ambler09) - watch them talk alongside Sacha in the Here For You campaign vid below!
Use the hashtag #HereForYou to join the convo on Instagram or share your mental health story - or just scroll through the hashtags… it’s pretty inspiring stuff!
Whatever you’re posting, make sure you join the convo on something that affects a huge 1 in 4 of us during an average year!
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