These Before & After Photos Get Real About Mental Health

Photo: Getty Images
Social media is one of the most major tools, joys, and evils of our time. And every day it becomes more clear just how huge the rift between our Real Lives and our Facebook Lives really is. With so many celebrities and Insta-celebrities constantly posting glowing, hyper-filtered, obnoxiously chic and cheerful photos all the time, plenty of Instagrammers and Snapchatters and the like see no choice but to (attempt to) follow suit. But the dark side of social media — especially its effects on mental health — is no secret.
That's why mental health activist Ella Endi, a.k.a. @nakedwithanxiety, hit Instagram with a pair of side-by-side photos that show just how much reality those filters can obscure — and how damaging that can be for folks who feel they need to hide their mental health issues on social media (and throughout their lives, for that matter).
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Both images were taken at the end of a very rough day for Endi, mental-health-wise, but only one conveys what she's feeling on the inside. The other is filtered to within an inch of its life, and her inner struggles go unnoticed.
"Filters don’t just hide or enhance certain physical features — they also have the ability to completely wash away any evidence that someone is struggling with their mental health," Endi wrote. "A mental health diagnosis is an intangible thing — we can feel it, but no one can see it. And that’s a really dangerous aspect of these conditions — because not only does it keep us from receiving the empathy we deserve, but it often allows us to hide our suffering."
"I look like I’m doing well there," she said of the filtered photo, "but I absolutely wasn’t. These two photos taken in the same night tell totally different stories, so I just want to remind you that you don't need to hide your pain away from the world. If you're having a shitty day, you don't have to post a cute/happy selfie to keep up appearances. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional for support when you need it. Asking for help doesn't mean you're weak — it means you're brave AF!"
Damn straight it does. Endi's post (and, come to think of it, the fact that mental health activists like her are using social media to break down stigma in the first place) shows that it's not all bad in Insta-land. In fact, there are plenty of ways that we can conquer the very social platforms that make so many of us feel shitty — and repurpose them for good.

Filters don’t just hide or enhance certain physical features -- they also have the ability to completely wash away any evidence that someone is struggling with their mental health. ••• A mental health diagnosis is an intangible thing -- we can feel it, but no one can see it. And that’s a really dangerous aspect of these conditions because not only does it keep us from receiving the empathy we deserve, but it often allows us to hide our suffering. ••• I took both of these photos last Monday evening. I didn’t get much sleep the night before and that led to me having a rough day mentally. Every minor inconvenience stuck to me like glue and by nighttime it all felt so heavy that I couldn’t help but cry. ••• About two hours later, I saw myself in the mirror for the first time and I was completely taken back by the smudged makeup all over my face. My earlier sob sesh wasn’t on my mind anymore, but my reflection made me realize what a rough day I’d had. I took the photo on the right to send to my best friend, since we had already discussed what was going on. Then we started sending silly selfies back-and-forth, which led to me taking the photo on the left. ••• Sure, that level of makeup isn’t exactly typical for me, but holy smokes, I look like a total badass! My eyes, skin, and smile are all GLOWING. I look like I’m doing well there, but I absolutely wasn’t. ••• These two photos taken in the same night tell totally different stories, so I just want to remind you that you don't need to hide your pain away from the world. If you're having a shitty day, you don't have to post a cute/happy selfie to keep up appearances. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional for support when you need it. Asking for help doesn't mean you're weak -- it means you're brave AF! 🙌🏼💖✨

A post shared by ella endi // nakedwithanxiety (@nakedwithanxiety) on

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