Thursday, April 10, 2014

Me, My Selfie, and I - a Child Abuse Survivor's Take on Selfies

While studies may suggest a link between selfie-taking and mental illness, my experience has been anything but detrimental to my mental health.

I would hazard to guess  many people who  suffer from PTSD find selfie-taking a healing, rather than damaging activity.

Growing up, I was discouraged from looking in the mirror and, as a result,
was not able to identify with myself in ways that many people take for granted.

I do not have happy pictures of birthday parties or pictures of any other traditionally happy moments that I can refer back to. These kinds of pictures were simply not available to me. As a result, I grew up lacking a key foundational element in my development. 

Selfies take the place of what should have been a happy childhood and provide a grounding emotion that cannot be experienced in any other way. I am able to document my various emotions as a way of identifying growth, sadness, elation, introspection.

When you grow up without positive family role-models, child abuse survivors have to find a way to identify with themselves. It is unfortunate when these activities are labeled selfish or as precursors of narcissism. Having dedicated my life to the cause of child abuse awareness, I feel entitled to a selfie-or two if that makes me feel better. Believe me, you would not want to have the memories I (and others like me) have.

Selfies are an excellent way of accomplishing a kinder relationship with self. Some will ask why a "selfie" as opposed to someone else taking my picture. My simple answer, is that taking a selfie (with the right intention and motivation), is a private experience that is meant to serve as a personal reflection without the distraction of anyone else's energy in the room. I happen to share the result of my private time with the world because people find them/me funny and uplifting. The social benefits of sharing selfies replaces family for me. That might seem sad to some, but I am grateful for one of the few vices I have in this world.

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