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Woman's Instagram Photos Show How Easy It Is To Hide Mental Health Struggles

03/28/2017 10:46 EDT

We all know how easy it is to hide one's struggle with mental health and social media, in particular, makes it even easier to do so.

Thanks to things like flattering filters and good lighting, Instagram can help people look their best, even if they're feeling anything but, and one woman has taken to the social media platform to show just how easy it is to camouflage evidence that one is struggling with their mental health.

Mental health activist Ella Endi recently posted two side-by-side photos of herself on Instagram to show how simple it is to hide one's mental state on social media and pointed out why that's damaging for people who are struggling but feel pressured to show only their happy selves on Instagram.

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


In one of the images, Endi looks happy while sporting perfect makeup and an easy smile (paired with great lighting and a filter) but in the second image, her makeup is wiped off and smudged and she looks anxious — no filter is used.

"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," she wrote on her Instagram post.

According to Endi, she took both of the photos after 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," she added.

And although she looked great in the filtered photo, Endi emphasized that she was feeling awful about herself.

"I look like I’m doing well there, but I absolutely wasn’t," she wrote.

Even more importantly, she noted that people struggling with their mental health shouldn't be ashamed, nor should they feel that they have to hide what they're going through.

"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!"

#CanWeGetAHellYeah!

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem in any given year. And by the time Canadians are 40 years old, 1 in 2 have, or have had, a mental illness.

woman taking selfie

Unfortunately, even though mental illness is so prevalent, there's still a stigma attached to it, which is why some people are hesitant to ask for help.

"A mental health diagnosis is an intangible thing — we can feel it, but no one can see it," wrote Endi. "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."

According to a 2008 survey, just 50 per cent of Canadians would tell their friends or co-workers they have a family member with a mental illness, compared to 72 per cent who would talk about a cancer diagnosis. A whopping 42 per cent of Canadians were unsure whether they would socialize with a friend who has a mental illness and 55 per cent of Canadians said they would be unlikely to enter a spousal relationship with someone who has a mental illness.

One of the questions I'm asked most often is whether I've ever taken medicine for my anxiety. The simple answer to that question is "yes." Though I've dealt with anxiety + panic attacks for most of my life, it picked up momentum when I hit my 20s and it was too much for me to handle on my own. ••• A lot of people outside our community cast judgment on people who take medicine for their mental health. To these people I say, this is your privilege. The fact that you don't grasp the situation well enough to understand it, does not make our pain go away. Be grateful you've never been terrorized by your own mind; that you've never felt you were being held hostage inside your own head. It is a pain I hope you never know. ••• But to the people WITHIN our community who sneer at those who take medicine for their mental health, you break my heart. It's hard for me to admit, but part of why I'm still here today is because I popped a little blue pill every day back when I didn't want to be alive anymore. You know what it's like for everything to feel out of control inside your own head- do NOT for one second believe that because you've gotten by without medication, or because you've gotten off it, that you get to take a moral high ground against people who are suffering. For crying out loud, they are suffering. They don't need more grief- they need compassion. They don't need someone making them feel like they're doing something wrong- they need someone cheering for them. ••• I've been off medication for 6.5 years now, but I know that doesn't make me any better or worse than anyone inside or outside of this community. All I ask is that all of you stand up with me and refuse to cast shame on people who are trying to survive. And if you are taking medication for your mental health, I hope you know you are NOT a failure. You're a fucking badass warrior and this world needs you in it- do whatever it takes to make sure you stay here ✨✨✨

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


If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, there are ways to get help. The Canadian Mental Health Association recommends the following:

  • Talk with supportive friends and family about your feelings
  • Talk to your family doctor
  • Connect with community mental health clinics or organizations
  • Call a help line
  • Learn more about mental health
  • Talk with a member or leader you trust from your faith or cultural group
  • Connect with others who have personal experience with a mental illness

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