To What Extent is Negative Media & Media Bias Responsible for Depression? Ecotrain Question of the Week
'Today my forest is dark. The trees are sad and all the butterflies have broken wings.'
The above is a quote from happyplace.com and the moment I came across this, I was like 'Woah, that does describe my feelings when I feel depressed.' When you feel depressed, you do find everything in black and white around you. At least for me, it is like that. The colors drain out of things real fast. It is like I see a blue pillow, but my brain interprets it as grey. I see my son smiling, but my brain sees as it as a frown. I see everything around me going smoothly, but my brain, well it makes me see chaos everywhere.
This week the @ecotrain question of the week is:
To What Extent is Negative Media & Media Bias Responsible for Depression?
And here's my response to it.
Life isn't all roses and daisies as I have said that several times in my many blog-posts so yeah there are times when I feel stressed and chaotic. That said, all those times have been quite manageable for me. People often confuse chronic stress with depression and anxiety, but all the three are different terms. While that is a different topic, I'd like to make a little clarification here so you know how to distinguish between these feelings and conditions. Stress is the feeling of frustration, exhaustion and annoyance you feel when you are faced with challenging situations or work too much. However, when that feeling doesn't mitigate after some hours or a day and keeps building up and then affects your emotional, mental and physical well-being, it turns into chronic stress.
Anxiety is the apprehensiveness you feel before certain situations or even otherwise that something wrong may happen and it makes you feel jittery and disturbed. If prevailed over a long time, it turns into bigger issues. Depression is feeling withdrawn ad dismayed about something or in general because of a series of events or just one episode and losing interest in everything that earlier seemed enjoyable to you. Since, this week the qotw by my favorite @ecotrain caters to depression, I'll stick to that.
Feeling withdrawn and disappointed is alright if that happens occasionally and the feeling goes away. That isn't depression. We go through a lot in life and since not everything and everyone would be and do as we want, respective, it is okay to feel a little bad afterwards. However, that isn't depression. Depression is if that feeling persists for over 2 weeks and is accompanied by certain emotional and physical manifestations such as body aches especially neck and shoulder aches, tummy cramps, exhaustion, eating too much or too less, sleeping too much or too less, thinking negatively about everything, rehashing the past constantly, not being able to take decisions easily, not thinking straight, feeling guilty and worthless and even having self-harming thoughts. If all of that prevails for 2 weeks consistently, then you are likely going through depression.
In my 29 years in this world and about 23 years of consciousness, (yeah I remember my life quite clearly after I turned 6 so I count my years of consciousness after that), I have had about 5 major and true bouts of depression and of all those, about 2 were triggered by media biases so let's move on to those. Media does play a huge (read: colossal) influence in our lives and since we are surrounded by so many media influences and channels, it is bound to get to us. I remember being taught and seeing throughout my early years in school and then O'levels that to be successful in life, one needs to have a good degree and high-end education. Well, that's one route to achieve your professional goals but that's not it. So when I didn't get straight 8A's as I had planned in O'levels because that's what I needed to get into a really good college, I got 5A's and 3B's which was a great result but I didn't think of it as anythign great back then lol, I was extremely depressed. For about a month, my life drained of color, cheerfulness, laughter and dance- all the things that were a big part of my existence so it was like I died a little more from within with each passing day. Ouch, that did hurt me a lot back then.
But then I grew stronger and sort of realized that it was okay if I didn't get into the best college, I can still pursue my dream of becoming a doctor so I finally got into an okay-ish college and started studying hard. Got good grades and when I didn't get good enough marks in the medical entrance test for government supported medical colleges, I died once more. Private institutions were way expensive so I couldn't afford that and my soaring self-respect didn't allow me to take monetary help from a relative so I said no to that option and did my BBA Hons from a not-so-good business school only because it offered me 100% scholarship. My academic results so far were great but not what I wanted so I disregarded them. I had always believed that I wanted to be a doctor and sadly, the media did play some role in making me think that. It was only after I started writing and taking interest in psychology that I FINALLY (thank GOD) realized that I was passionate about these fields so I started working as a writer and slowly improved my skill.
Still during my BBA, I was hungry for an A grade because I still thought it was the only way to be successful- all hail to the Media biases once again. Thanks to my now husband who eventually made me accept and realize in my third year of marriage that all of that did not matter and when I came across many examples of successful people in the world who dropped out of school and hadn't completed their college degrees and were still fairing well in life, I was like 'Woah, what have I been feeding to myself all this time???'
So it was then that I started paying attention to how media influences and sabotages our lives and began understanding its influence on our mind and lives. It was during the same time that I started doing e-books as a ghost freelance writer on depression, anxiety and stress and the power of your mind and another realization dawned on me- WE LET THINGS AND EXPERIENCES INFLUENCE US.
It was then that I realized that certain experiences and the many media biases we are surrounded by do and can set off our depression, but it is WE and we alone who let them get to us. There is always and I firmly believe always another way to look at things and to get out of a problem. If you are shown in an ad that being fair skinned boosts your confidence (yes some ads are that terrible), it is you who starts to believe it. You have the option of changing the channel or telling yourself a few times that this isn't true, but if you keep thinking on how the fair skinned girls feels confident on taking the job interview and then bags the job and how you never feel good about yourself because you are dark-skinned, it is you who feel that way. Yes, people make you feel like that way, but then don't listen to people. Yes, doing that is way too hard, but you have the option of blocking toxic influences from your life.
To combat the depression triggers, one needs to be very, very strong and doing that is not often easy at all. I know that because I have let media influences and the words of people get to me so many times and then trigger my depression. I remember for a long time, I was depressed about why I couldn't go on vacations like many of my friends posting their holiday photos of Turkey, Mauritius and other countries on Facebook did and felt so bad when I saw someone post a photo of how her husband showered her with gifts and flowers on her bday while mine just said 'Oh, its your b'day, cool.' That did kill me. However, when I wrote on the topic of depression and most importantly mindfulness, I realized I always have the option of choosing the other route and not letting these things get to my head. So then I deleted Facebook from my phone for sometime and when I saw images and posts on Facebook from my laptop that made me think negatively of my life and compare it with that of others, I started saying this to myself, 'Everyone has their share of pains and happiness. So if my life isn't all rosy right now, I have comforts others don't and if someone is going on vacations, they may be having other pains. It is okay baby, you are doing fine. Think of your blessings c'mon' and then I used to count my blessings and be happy.
So yeah, media biases do and can trigger your depression mode, but only if you let them. Don't think about those things for long, feed yourself positive mental food, block out negative influences and inspire yourself from success stories and you can reduce the effect of media biases. We have that control. But sometimes, our internal switch just flips out and in that case, we need to take professional help. Also, if you feel you easily let media get to your head then block it out for a while. Like I stopped using Twitter and Insta cos I felt they were affecting me in ways I didn't want to be affected as and then when I had gathered better control of myself, I resumed using them. I am amazed at how much power we have internally if we really want to take control of ourselves and our lives.
So what are your thoughts on it? To what extent do you think media affects our lives and is responsible for triggering depression?
Love and light,
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