I wasn't allowed online for reasons outside of homework until my sophomore year of high school. I remember always being so jealous of my friends who had Facebook accounts, desperately wishing that I could keep up with what was going on in everybody's lives. My parents finally let me get a Facebook account after I presented them with a very persuasive letter on why I should get one because all of my friends had one.
After signing up, I was sucked into the deep abyss that is the Internet. Slowly but surely, I became fascinated with putting everything online. Every thought I had, no matter how silly or insignificant in the grand scheme of life, went on my Facebook wall. Soon, I signed up for a Twitter account, and, since this was before Twitter was cool, I could say anything that I wanted and barely anyone would see it. I began tweeting my every thought, and I mean every thought because I honestly thought that no one would care.
In my junior year of high school, I started to experience significant mood swings, I stopped feeling like myself, and began shutting off to everyone. The Internet became my therapist and I didn't care what anybody thought of what I said. I started lashing out at people who tried to help and the complained about how nobody was checking to make sure I was okay. I blatantly tweeted hateful things at people, I complained about anything and everything, and I became someone I did not like or recognize. I don't blame this on the usage of the Internet: I was sick and didn't know where to turn to or what to do. The Internet just became the easiest way for me to experience what I was going through.
Senior year, I started to rely on Twitter as my therapist less. It was partially because I started to gain control over my depression and partially because I was so focused on the brighter future that college promised. I stopped hash-tagging my every thought and started focusing on how I could improve myself in my daily actions. It was by no means easy. When I would get angry or frustrated, I would open my phone and start drafting a tweet, but I usually was able to stop myself mid-way through. There were even multiple weekends where I forced myself to unplug from the Internet and I remember being so satisfied with how I proved to myself that I had the emotional strength to not share everything.
In college, I rediscovered my passion for writing and it became a constructive tool for channeling my emotions. It helped me cope with the depression and helped calm me down from panic attacks. I declared an English minor, got back into writing my short stories, and ultimately, started writing for Odyssey. I began to use my words in constructive ways. I began to share my own story which was so much more therapeutic than any tweet.
Being vulnerable in anything is not easy. Being vulnerable and open and honest and sharing raw emotion on the Internet is difficult to do tastefully. For me, my social media used to be a cry for help that continued to unanswered. Now, I have channeled those emotions and experiences into a way to help others. I'm still terrified every time I submit an article that shares very personal parts of my past. But I chose to be the person that seventeen-year-old me needed because somewhere out there is a girl struggling to understand what she is going through, and if I can help just one person find their way out of their darkness, then it was all worth it.