These filters come from our childhood, past & lived experiences, our biases, and our values. The effects of these filters can result in cloudy judgment, hyper-arousal/hyper awareness, irritability, exhaustion…you name it. Filters can impact how you interact with your friends, family, or intimate partners.
Here are just some a examples of what these filters look and feel like:
The Trauma Filter: This filter can sometimes feel like a dark and shady filter, one that makes our vision cloudy, dark, and often scary. We react to this view at times with defensiveness and quickly react either fighting, fleeting, freezing, or appeasing (“giving in”). These are our innate survival skills that we turn to when we recognize a threat. This trauma filter can distort what we're seeing and project images, events, or people that have in some way hurt us. It turns the world around us into shadows that we can’t quite make out and perceive as danger. This filter makes what we're looking at or experiencing feel much more threatening than what is in front of us.
The Depression Filter: This filter often looks like a cloudy or dull filter (like cloudy and grey days). The cloudiness of this filter makes it hard to see the brighter spots, making solutions harder to find. This filter can make things out of focus, making things appear hazy and disorienting. This fatigues your eyesight and mind. This can disrupt all sorts of things like appetite, sleep, sex drive, among other things. When trying to navigate with a hazy lens, you can bump into things and can cause physical pain. Trying to navigate without seeing clearly often leaves you feeling discouraged to keep going, feeling like you “can’t do anything right”. Your support system can also appear out of focus or not there at all. All of this can feel lonely.
The Anxiety Filter: This filter can often seem like one that sharpens the world around us, making everything seem bright, pointy, and crowded. This filter highlights almost everything around you, making you hyper-aware of everything and everyone around you which is extremely overwhelming. Anxiety makes things seem daunting, to-do lists seem never ending, and everyday tasks seem unapproachable. In this filter, everything looks like a top priority. Going from one task to another without finishing either, you lose focus; thinking about every other thing that needs to get done. You run around trying to accomplish each task that you end up out of breath, trembling, and feeling tired. It can feel like you’ve run a marathon! This filter can also make it seem like the walls appear closer than they are, or the water higher than you can swim in.
Just like the filters we use on social media; we can swipe them off! They are not permanent, and they do not represent the truth. The truth is, you do have supports around you, there are healthy solutions, and you are worthy. It may not be as easy as swiping through them on Snapchat, but a life with #nofilter (as it relates to mental health) is possible. With appropriate treatment, counseling, and sometimes medication, we can begin to reduce the opacity of these filters.