A little under a year ago I created my Instagram account, @leenahlovesherself. When the account first started, I had no idea that it would evolve in the amazing way that it has. I never expected that I would be embracing authenticity and vulnerability, and I never imagined that I would be connecting with people from all over the world each day.
One of the most impactful connections that I have made is with my friend Lexie, @lexiemanion.
Lexie and I first spoke in mid-February. I had direct messaged her on Instagram one night after one of her posts gave me hope on a night when I was struggling. I didn't expect her to reply because of her large follower count, so when she replied I was extremely grateful – little did I know that we would eventually become best friends.
We quickly related to each other because we both have struggled with eating disorders and anxiety disorders. People who struggle with mental illness tend to make special connections with each other because we know how challenging it can be to navigate life with these illnesses. We also quickly discovered that we both take part in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). While many of our specific experiences have been different, we have also had some that are very similar, and, as a result, were very drawn to connecting.
Since we first started speaking back in February, Lexie and I have texted every day. Our conversations range from our daily struggles with mental illness, to our "recovery wins", to cute pictures of our dogs, to mundane details of our day-to-day lives, to ridiculous GIFs and memes. We can always count on each other for support (and to roast each other for typos). Within a matter of months, we have become incredibly close.
Believe it or not, until last week, Lexie and I had never met in person. We live about 5 hours apart, so it's not exactly a short trip. However, last weekend I went on vacation with my family on Long Beach Island in NJ, which happened to only be an hour and a half from Lexie. She drove down to spend the day with me. We spent the day chilling out on the beach, having an obnoxious Instagram livestream filled with our loud laughter, eating delicious treats from a local bakery, and spotting every dog in sight. We were both able to make each other feel comfortable, and it was so special to finally be able to interact in person after months of communicating online.
I'm so thankful that Instagram gave me the gift of connection by paving the way for me to meet Lexie. Social media apps like Instagram make the world a much smaller place by providing opportunities for connection that would not otherwise be possible. As someone who struggles with finding people who have relatable experiences, finding a friend like Lexie has really been life changing. Thank you Instagram for connecting me with my best friend, and thank you Lexie for being you.