I have been fortunate enough to read Fiona Thomas’s book, ‘Depression in a Digital Age’, and I wanted to share my thoughts on her story*.
Fiona’s book is about her journey through life as child living a simple life into an adult battling against depression and anxiety while trying to adjust to modern technology.
The story starts with Fiona recounting the simplicity and happiness of her childhood, before technology and social media started gaining legs and we relied on face to face contact to meet our friendship needs. Being the same age as Fiona I found I could connect a lot with so many parts of her story, and the particularly enjoyable part for me in the first part of the book was the nostalgia I felt remembering my own childhood, sitting with my school friends reading Mizz and Shout magazines and collecting Spice Girls postcards for the official photo album. I too remember moving up to ‘big school’, getting my first mobile phone (which had Snake II by the way – very advanced), and sending abbreviated text messages to my friends to try and use as little credit as possible. It felt like I was reliving some of my own youth and I instantly connected with Fiona as an author because of this.
Her journey into mental illness, though different from my own, felt easy for me to relate to. Despite us having very different upbringings and careers, I too am a chronic perfectionist and my tendency to put myself under enormous amounts of pressure undoubtedly contributed to the decline in my own well being. It is over the chapters where Fiona shares the deterioration in her mental health that she perfectly encapsulates how depression sneaks up on you gradually, sometimes almost unnoticed, then hits you all at once. It is incapacitating and turns you into a person you don’t want to be, and she describes how her life changed from being a high-flying catering manager to unemployed and relying on her family for financial support. This demonstrates how significant an illness depression is and how it can be life changing to so many. You find yourself rooting for her to get better as her story goes on, and to find herself back on her feet and fulfilling her potential.
Fiona also talks at length about her journey into blogging and discovering social media. Again, her story follows a path much like my own, from starting a blog with no clue what she was doing to developing an obsession with seeing her follower count climb day by day. She perfectly describes the balance between the incredible benefits social media can have and how it can help people who may otherwise be isolated connect to like-minded humans, to the downsides including how it can breed obsessional behaviour and a need for constant validation through likes and retweets.
Overall, her message of the power of human connection in mental health recovery is incredibly important and something we could all do with placing more value on. There’s also an undercurrent of the importance of finding your own voice threaded throughout the story.
I would definitely recommend reading ‘Depression in a Digital Age’ whether you have struggled with your own mental health or not – I’m sure many of us out there can relate to the trials and tribulations of the rise of social media. Fiona is relatable, articulate and inspiring, and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of her journey.
Disclaimer: I was sent this book prior to publication at no cost in exchange for a review, however all thoughts throughout this post are my own.