The COVID-19 era has been a difficult and disastrous time for people. No one has to talk about the grief-stricken and devastating effects families endured from losses of loved ones, losses of their jobs, closing down businesses, children losing out on a stable education, and lockdowns and the unknowns are trying on everyone. For those who struggle with mental illness, this era has been hell even if they are fortunate to stay physically healthy, didn’t lose their jobs, and didn’t lose their loved ones. People with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are struggling for one reason or another. They are struggling much worse than those who don’t have existing mental health disorders.
Those with mental health disorders also have to spend time alone, which is tough. Reminders of traumatic events and other areas that trigger their low self-esteem issues are likely to emerge during the difficult faces of lockdown. Well, that was my story anyway. Besides being stuck at home due to lockdowns or choosing the right thing to not go to places even if there are no significant restrictions, there is another cause for those who have mental illnesses to struggle even more. That is social media!
Social Media Is To Blame For The Worsening Of Mental Illnesses During The Era Of COVID-19
When the pandemic hit out of nowhere last March, everyone was shocked, scared, and upset. Their lives turned upside down. People with mental illnesses feared how they were going to handle the lockdowns and all of the illness. However, there was a time when being on social media to get support and to network with others was a great thing to do by sharing memes that intended to make light of a very dark situation. Indulging in some dark humor can help. However, there is only so long when it served that purpose.
The only thing that provided hope of leaving the pandemic was the vaccines in production. Soon enough, conspiracy theorists all around threatened that because of spreading harmful misinformation about vaccines. And if not enough people took vaccines, we would be dealing with COVID-19 for five years. Therefore, the conspiracy theorists in religious and New Age groups were telling people not to take the vaccine but told others that COVID was a hoax by calling it a plandemic. That was a significant time when social media regarding the pandemic was stressing people with and without mental illnesses.
However, once Facebook and Twitter, and other social media channels like YouTube and Instagram began cracking down on dangerous conspiracy theories, then it was nice to see that was happening. It was not long after that social media began upsetting people for the opposite reason.
When the vaccines began rolling out in December 2020 to the USA, UK, and Canada, it was exciting to watch healthcare workers, and the elderly receive their jabs. Seeing that gave us hope and everyone was happy for them. The poor healthcare workers on the frontlines deserved those first jabs in addition to the vulnerable older adults who were the most at risk from dying. Everyone was happy to see pictures of them receiving those jabs.
Soon enough, healthcare workers taking selfies as they were receiving vaccines started a trend which was the ‘vaxxie’. The purpose was to help encourage others who were not yet eligible to get the vaccine to get it when their turn emerges. That was a welcomed sight on social media because it really was a nice change from having to watch dangerous conspiracy theorists spew misinformation.
However, the vaxxie movement began causing more harm than good not long after becoming trendy, especially in certain areas of the USA where the rollout was poor. In all parts of Canada, we are still ranking at the bottom of the list and for many Europeans. The vaxxie movement started causing other monsters to emerge, which is the green-eyed monster, also known as vaccine envy. I sadly admit since I am a Canadian not knowing when I am getting my shot, I am feeling pangs of this. Listen, I am happy for those who are getting it quickly, but there are definitely pangs of envy. The fact that I have at least one mental illness makes me more prone to envy, as I have struggled with it throughout my life for various reasons. I am not afraid to admit it either because I am sick of negative human emotions being so taboo. Even those who are mentally healthy are feeling the same around here.
However, here is the thing about vaccine envy. No one begrudges front-line workers who put their lives on the line, and even essential workers exposed themselves to the public being at risk getting the shot first. No one begrudges the elderly getting their shots before everyone else. But once the eligibility cap begins to expand to those who are younger and are at a lower risk, then that is a problem. That is certainly the case when it comes to Canadians facing another lockdown and another wave of COVID-19 watching their peers south of the border post their vaxxies as they get their freedom back.
While initially seeing vaxxies all over social media was a welcome change from the torture that conspiracy theorists put me through, that has changed. It is hard to watch Americans brag about getting their jabs while Canada is battling another wave and dealing with another lockdown in various regions – while I still don’t know when I am going to get mine. Other Canadians are feeling the same way, especially right now. It is not a taboo issue, this is a difficult human emotion experienced during a hard time.
Is it fair to begrudge Americans? No, it definitely is not. However, the fact is it is hard not to envy a younger and healthier person to get their jab because they live elsewhere. If you are a healthcare or frontline essential worker or over the age of 65, I do not envy you. But if you are my age, 30, or younger, and you have excellent health, sorry, It is hard to watch. I get that it is not your fault, but this is how it is for Canadians and others who are struggling with their rollout. It is no different from bragging about your pregnancy announcement all over social media, as someone who battles infertility has to scroll past your post painfully. I know this too because I have been there too, and that is precisely how it feels. I admit it. However, there is a solution to this to help minimize these feelings?
What Is The Solution To Vaccine Or Any Social Media Envy?
I will not tell you that the solution is to suppress these negative emotions, distract yourself from them, and redirect your thoughts onto something else. I am not going to tell you to forget about them and stick to writing gratitude lists because, in situations like this, that does not help. Do you think I am about to tell you to allow those feelings of jealousy to consume you to the point that you cannot move and be productive? No. That is not the solution either.
The best thing to do is acknowledge how you feel, don’t be afraid to admit it, and if someone judges you for it, then f**k them! More importantly, strictly limit how much time you spend on social media right now. If you don’t want to do that, snooze those who are annoying you. However, if you want to deactivate your social media sites until you are ready to go back, then that may even be a better solution.
Then write your ingratitude list and add that to it, and then at the same time, remind yourself that your turn will come. If you need to remind yourself several times a day to do it, you need to do that. Whatever will get you through it, do that. It may be unknown right now when you get your jab, but it will come. COVID-19 will not last forever as a pandemic anyway. If you are a Canadian who is struggling with vaccine envy, then know that the supplies are about to skyrocket, and even though you don’t know your turn, you know you will have your first dose at least before Canada Day – and that really is not far away. If you want to deactivate your social media until you get it, maybe it is for the best.
Since I see vaxxies as no longer inspirational and something that has become obnoxious and tone-deaf, I am not going to post one when it is my turn. I live in a hotspot which means my turn will come up before Canadians who don’t live in hotspots. Therefore, it will stew jealous feelings, which would never be my intention because I certainly get it.