*Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders
Since 2019, the platform of the social media app TikTok has grown exponentially and has been nothing short of a success. From viral dances to trends and the internet crazes, there is something for everyone on TikTok. Whatever your interests are, be it anime, comedy, or really anything else imaginable, you can always find something to entertain you. That being said, though the primary services that TikTok may provide are purely for entertainment purposes, there are actually lots of educational and informational content creators out there who hope to make a difference with every video they make, and one type of creators that fit this criterion that I’ve come across recently are licensed therapist doing the latest trend to the currently most popular song, all while teaching you about the signs of anxiety and depression disorders.
As of recently, TikTok therapists have been making their debut on the app and it could not have had better timing. With everything that we as a society are currently dealing with and experiencing, especially these prolonged periods of isolation and time away from family and friends, it is easy to feel hopeless, with the overwhelming feeling that nothing is going to get better bearing down on you. For some, this feeling is rather fleeting and it isn’t at the forefront of their mind at all times, but for others, this isn’t the case. Those who have struggled to care for their mental health before the pandemic hit have only had a harder time trying to ease the nagging voice which could be telling them nothing is going to get better, myself included.
While alone time has never been something I was unaccustomed to, there were so many instances where I would feel lost and estranged from my friends and family because of how distant I believed was becoming with this long isolation, and it caused my mind to spiral and left me to despair. And when I was left to cope with these overwhelming thoughts, I wouldn’t do so very proactively, as I just found myself distracting myself from these feelings in any way I could, be it reading, cleaning, binging shows, or sleeping, I did everything I could to make sure I was never alone with my thoughts. Although I have now realized this was my method of “coping”, at the time I just believed this was natural and that everyone was else doing something similar, and it wasn’t until much later that realized these were actually symptoms of depression. And though it may seem silly and a bit uncanny, the day I realized this was the day I had for the first time seen licensed therapist, Dr. Courtney Tracy, on TikTok talking about actions that may be signs of early depression, and it caused me to start thinking a bit more deeply about my behavior.
Dr. Courtney Tracy (the.truth.doctor) is a creator and licensed therapist who joined TikTok in 2020 and since then has acquired 1.5 million followers, myself being one of them. Her content is primarily focused on providing the point of view of what some people with disorders may experience and explaining why the disorder or possibility of the disorder may have formed, as well as talking about her own experiences and how she, too, came to terms with her trauma and behavior, and has even make videos responding to her followers’ questions and concerns about certain disorders and the symptoms behind them. Her content for me personally has been eye-opening, and extremely educational, as I find myself able to use the information in her videos to find the best ways to motivate and understand myself better, which has been life-changing in some ways. I find myself using much more productive techniques to ease and manage my anxiety and stress now that I am aware that it is something that is in my control, no matter how often it may feel like it is not.
However, though Dr. Tracy’s videos are exceedingly insightful, that is all they are meant to be, according to the content creator herself. In a New York Times article, Dr. Tracy said that as therapists, they “need to be careful to urge patients to not self-diagnose,” and emphasized that her tips are purposed to be merely educational, not a diagnosis. She made it clear that her intentions, as well as her colleagues were to have viewers “absorb the information and then decide if they need to talk to a professional” before taking the content out of context as a diagnosis and considering themselves mentally ill.
While it may be easy to immediately conclude that you suffer from a disorder just from hearing about the symptoms and the behaviors of someone with the disorder, it is important to restrain yourself from establishing that conclusion before speaking with an expert. However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing to be taken away from the therapists on TikTok, as I had stated before, the information which is provided by these therapists can be hugely beneficial if you have been diagnosed with a disorder, or even if you are just looking for a better understanding of what is going on in your brain. As someone who has been there before, I know it t can be difficult to want to reach out and be confident enough to say that you need to seek help, as for some it is either not an option, or they feel they are undeserving of that help, and that’s where Dr. Tracy and other therapists like her are providing aid, one TikTok at a time.