A Girl’s Mental Health Journey through Instagram and her dog

A Girl’s Mental Health Journey through Instagram and her dog

Today I am delighted to have a very special young lady who has written a guest blog for S.H.I.T, describing her journey with anxiety and how it led her to start her own Instagram account @sadie_pink. In her posts she writes candidly about her own daily struggles through her beloved golden retriever, Sadie, and by doing so helps other young people realise that they’re not alone and it really is ok.

This post is written is in memory of beautiful Sadie, who sadly passed away in May 2021.

I set up the Sadie Pink Instagram account in my summer holiday after my final year at high school.

That summer was meant to be one of the greatest summers of my life and I was determined to make it so but most people my age had Instagram accounts and I would find myself becoming hurt, stressed and even jealous at every single post they did.

Don’t get me wrong, I did have fun in the summer, but I felt as if it wasn’t real fun because I wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing.

I felt inadequate for not being able to do what I saw on Instagram. I couldn’t understand how everyone else could do all these cool things, but when I tried, I became so overwhelmed and anxious that I was essentially crippled.

I was in denial of my anxiety.

I was letting social media dictate to me what is fun and what is boring and so I felt that there was something wrong with me. People would say things like ‘yolo’ and ‘let loose’ but I just couldn’t, my brain would not leave me alone. The more I tried, the more injured I became.

I was bombarded with pictures of people travelling to exotic countries, having picnics in the parks, and trying new foods. I just couldn’t do that; I did not feel safe.

My fun was made up of walking my dog, exploring nature, and doing other fun things with friends who did not force society on me. But of course, that felt inadequate. I felt like a nuisance, a leach that sucked all joy out of everything because I just could not enjoy things that Instagram showed everyone else enjoying. So, I wanted to set up an account and see if I could make life seem great with never a dull moment.

This is where my gorgeous golden retriever, Sadie, came into it. I used Sadie as the face of the account – I didn’t actually want an Instagram account because the fakeness and the need to be happy all the time made me too angry, so I used my beloved dog.

I would use Sadie to show the ridiculousness of social media. And it was fun.

However, one day in the summer, as I was about to go on my gap year, I was sitting in the kitchen and I felt so sad and hopeless. I was about to have such a great opportunity and all my friends were so excited and yet I was terrified – I was scared that like all previous opportunities I had had, I would ruin it for myself with my internal pain. I just could not control it and it ruined everything. I was in so much pain because I so wished I could be as a carefree as my friends.

My friends tried to understand but everyone has limits – I was not just having an ‘episode’, no, I felt like this almost all the time in any new situation. How could I expect my friends to understand when I could not understand myself? I mean, how do you explain to someone that you forget how to swallow, forget how to breathe and that the floor is jumping up and down, when you remain looking so normal?

My mum told me to write about how I felt and put it on the Sadie Pink account. So I did, and I was terrified, but I also felt relieved.

I did It more and more often. I felt like I was finally being open with people. I began to accept my struggles and I began to accept that it really is ok to feel S.H.I.T! Life can be so hard, and it is ok!

I stopped fighting my anxiety and I started telling myself that it’s ok to find things hard. I began to tell myself that I don’t need to be happy all the time and that doesn’t make me weak, boring, or miserable – it makes me human.

I also began to realise that just because I write about struggling on Instagram I do not need to be ‘a person who struggles all the time’. No, I can be a real person – I can be a person who has struggles that are so painful and yes, they can stop me from doing things sometimes, but that is ok. I am also a person who can have so much fun.

When I stopped running away from my struggles, I started recognising the realness of them. That allowed me to be kind to myself and know my boundaries  and enabled me to have fun within my comfort zone.

None of us need to be happy all the time and lead Instagram worthy lives. Life is hard sometimes and it’s ok to feel the pain and struggle, but your struggle does not need to define you. Try to stop fighting it and the sooner you accept how painful it is to feel a bit different, and the sooner you try to stop being like your friends who might not have the same struggles, then the sooner you can have your own sorts of fun.

Sadie is obviously irreplaceable but here is our new puppy, Oliver who will carry on her legacy. 

To follow this incredibly young lady’s journey on Instagram, please go to @sadie_pink and a big thank you to her for talking so bravely and candidly.

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