When Bella Younger, AKA Deliciously Stella, started parodying the whole wellness scene, it was like a breath of fresh air.
Finally, someone saw how ridiculous the clean eating scene was becoming and wasn’t afraid to rip it to shreds.
Deliciously Stella was every woman.
But it turns out that her real life situation was far removed from her online persona.
Writing in Vogue, she says that last October, she ‘should have been on cloud nine’ having finished a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival, completed a book deal and acquired 20,000 Instagram followers.
In reality, she’d been signed off work the week before having spent the previous few days ‘traipsing in and out of hospitals, hearing words like “major depressive”, “severe anxiety” and, most terrifyingly, “bipolar”‘.
‘To my friends and my thousands of followers I was a viral internet sensation, high on likes and drunk off admiration but, in reality, I was about to have my first nervous breakdown,’ she writes.
A recent study from the University of Vermont has claimed that you can diagnose depression by what filters you use and how often you post on Instagram.
‘For me, the latter discovery is particularly poignant. At first, thinking up new jokes had been easy and fun. I’d laughed while cruising the aisles at Asda, hunting for junk food to turn into my next pun.
‘But as soon as I arrived in Spain the panic set in. How was I going to get to the supermarket if I didn’t have a car? What if my friends were too busy having fun to take pictures of me posing with food? Did everyone think I was silly for caring so much?’
Bella says that she never intended to go viral and that all she’d ever wanted to do was make people laugh.
‘At first the validation felt amazing. I conspired over new post ideas with everyone – my friends, my family, my boss. But the more followers I got, the more pressure I felt to keep to my self-imposed posting regime. By the following May I had climbed my way to over 100,000 followers. I continued posting constantly, convinced that as long as I was still making people laugh, I was definitely okay.’
Eventually, she was referred to The Priory.
‘My doctors told me to take a break from social media, but even when I was in the hospital I couldn’t bear to stop posting. I took pictures of my dinner in The Priory dining hall and I begged my dad to smuggle in party rings so I could make a joke about “hole foods”.’
It was only after intense therapy and medication changes that she started to feel better, post less and find more balance.
And now she says that she’s ‘the healthiest and happiest’ that she’s been in years.
‘I will always be grateful to social media for what it’s done for my career, but I’ll never post to paper over the cracks again.’