Captions Vs Reality: 5 Instagram Photos From A Depressed 20-Year Old

Have you ever logged into Facebook or scrolled through your Instagram feed and been taken aback by all the amazing things everyone seems to be doing? All of their amazing travels, the VIP seats they got at the football, the hot boyfriend/girlfriend they have and that big promotion they just got at work? You compare all of this to your own life and cannot help but feel a little downbeat.

I write this to share a portion of my life to show exactly why we shouldn’t always believe the ‘highlights reel’ that social media presents to us; to underscore the reasons why we shouldn’t base our sense of self-worth and sense of accomplishment off the back of comparisons made from mere pixels.

The photos below are from my Instagram profile and span the time I spent living in the UK from 2012 to 2013. Whilst I often received jealous messages from people watching my travels on social media, what they didn’t know is that at the time I was enduring many of my most painful bouts of depression.

Thankfully things have improved a lot for me since those days recounted below. And whilst I still endure my struggles and am a long way off where I want/need to be, I am grateful for the lessons they have given me that I am now inspired to share with others.


Caption: ‘Can’t help but feel that waiting for a tube is like waiting for a roller coaster!’

Reality: I came into London today for a job interview. But I almost bailed out. My housemate had to drag me out of bed and drive me to the coach station. Begrudgingly I boarded for the three hour journey to London. As I laid my eyes on the Thames for the first time I got a call from my interviewer saying that the interview was off as snow had cut off many of the roads leading in to London. I barely even had money to make this trip let alone to spend a day here for nothing AND to pay for another trip in for the rescheduled interview date. All of this seems like such a backward step anyway and so far from the reasons I moved over here in the first place.


Caption: ‘Missed this gem amongst my London photo collection from last week!’

Reality: I have a job now. But I hate it. Granddad passed away two weeks ago and my whole family went to the funeral. Except me. I’m stuck here, alone. Last week I didn’t even get out of bed. I don’t know anyone in London and my paralysing social anxiety doesn’t lend itself very kindly to making new friends. Tonight I will go home and do my best to avoid conversation with those with whom I’m sharing my flat. Tomorrow I will wake up at 6:30 and run to the bus in the dark and freezing cold to suffer the hour long peak hour commute to this even more depressing part of London. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.


Caption: ‘The wheels on the bus go round and round… In this instance, over Tower Bridge 🙂 :)’

Reality: I don’t have a job – again. I couldn’t deal with the stress. Of course I didn’t tell my boss that I was leaving. Though he was aware of my depression and was meant to be organising some support. Instead, I’ve now been fired pending a disciplinary hearing for whenever I’m feeling well enough to attend. On top of that, I’m in a toxic relationship with my girlfriend that is soon to implode. I’m running out of money – fast! Today I travelled across the country to meet with a team of psychologists who are trying to fix what’s wrong with me. They’ve put me on a whole concoction of anti-depressants. But what’s the point? I have no friends, no job and no money.


Gloucester Alley Way Flowers - 121wks

Caption: ‘Love English alleyways!’

Reality: Being homeless doesn’t feel good. I feel so alone. I bought the cheapest backpack I could find and have my life packed away behind me. I’ve been walking the streets of Gloucester for a week now. I was under the care of the local mental health crisis team but I’ve messed that up too and am avoiding their calls. I don’t have much money left for bed and breakfasts. Yesterday I went into the local housing support centre to declare myself homeless. This was embarrassing enough. But then they asked me for my postcode to ensure I was in their ‘catchment area’. Confused and infuriated I yelled, ‘How the hell can I have a postcode if I’m homeless?’ I regret swearing at them. Today another homeless man came up to me and asked for change. I looked at him with a feeling of such anger and said, ‘Join the club’. I’ve never felt so ashamed.


Kings Beach Caloundra - 115wks

Caption: ‘Exploring in the sunshine!’

Reality: So after much toing and froing and a super emotional chat with my parents, I’m now back in Australia. The sun is shining but the dark cloud of depression still lingers over my head. Mum thought it would be a good idea if I came with her on her annual trip to Caloundra to meet with an old work friend. I often joined her in the past but this time I have just slept and watched TV on the couch of our apartment. I don’t know how I managed to make it outside today. Maybe because I want to get at least some colour into my dreadfully pale skin so people back home don’t ask too many questions. Everyone else here looks so happy. They are laughing and smiling and here’s me roaming around alone and upset. This sucks. When will it end?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Greatness Via Passion.

Me!About The Author (That’s me!)

I’m 22 years old, live in the land down-under and am a writer, sometimes speaker and beyondblue Ambassador. Fun fact: I’ve only missed one Summer, northern and southern hemispheres, in the last four years! You can say G’day on Twitter or Instagram or read more about my story here 😀


13 thoughts on “Captions Vs Reality: 5 Instagram Photos From A Depressed 20-Year Old

  1. Sorry to hear this is going on Paul. 😦 I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to be in your shoes right now. You mentioned that you love to travel but maybe right now staying put, might help give you some clarity? All the back and forth you have just been through is exhausting at the best of times so I am kinda worried it’s all catching up with you a bit. You under a lot of stress and need to take some deep mental and physical breaths and give your mental health attention first and foremost. Sending ex.ra awesome vibes your way ❤ This too shall pass

    1. This was a couple of years ago now, though it was interesting to look back to see just what I was posting in those dark moments. Makes you think twice about all the stuff you see on social media that we’re made to feel jealous of! Thanks for your support 🙂

      1. Oh wow lol sorry about that Paul! I missed that part about the “couple of years ago” lol But that being said, happy to hear that is behind you now 🙂 Cheers!

  2. […] Yesterday I wrote about some comparisons between the captions and the reality behind some Instagram photos I posted a few years ago. Social media and indeed the internet have created the perfect platform for any of us to portray our lives in whatever way we want. We think of virtual reality as this fantasy gaming world that we see on TV shows discussing the future of electronics. We think only those who can get tricked into believing what is told to them on the internet are naïve tweens. Nope. We too are living in a virtual reality. Fun fact: Did you know the cats used in cat memes are actually real cats with real feelings? Incredible! […]

  3. Love this! Thanks, for sharing your truth. This type of thing is an everyday struggle….what we see and often share with others is completely different from our true reality. I really loved this post!

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