Caitlin Covington Says Social Media Fame Gave Her Panic Attacks And Anxiety

Caitlin Covington/Instagram

After a meteoric rise to influencer status, Caitlin Covington’s mental health suffered

In this digital day and age we live in, social media influencer is no longer just a buzz-term. For many, it’s become an appealing way to make a living — one that, judging by the perfect little squares on Instagram, is shiny and fun. But popular fashion blogger Caitlin Covington is sharing what the social media façade doesn’t tell you about being an influencer. And for her, that included developing crippling anxiety and descending into depression.

According to Covington, she never had her sights set on being an influencer. In fact, she hadn’t even planned to become a blogger. But when she was in college at UNC-Chapel Hill, she decided to channel her passion for both fashion and sorority life into a blog: Southern Curls and Pearls.

It took off faster than she expected and, today, she’s sitting at over a million social media followers. All of those likes didn’t come without a cost, though. “I had never experienced anxiety or panic attacks until I started blogging. All of a sudden I had all of these eyes on me, and they were starting to pick apart my personal life,” the 28-year-old told North Carolina native told People magazine.

As anyone who has ever spent any amount of time online knows, people can be ruthless. Covington got a crash course in this lesson as her blog continued to grow. “People can be so cruel on the internet,” she lamented. “I could be doing something simple and then all of a sudden I would have a panic attack.”

Of course, no one would have been able to tell as much by looking at Covington’s blog or social media feeds. There, everything looked glossy and picture-perfect. It’s the nature of the beast, she admitted to People, but it’s not reality. “In a lot of cases it’s art, and you want your art to be beautiful. But that is in no way a reflection of that person’s life and the struggles they’re going through.”

So, in case you’re still harboring any illusions that you should be measuring up to the flawless faces and spaces on the internet, don’t. It’s often a carefully crafted illusion and, TBH, we think it’s pretty badass of Covington to confess that. She’s still in the game, so revealing what’s behind the curtain is a gamble.

But even though Covington is still a successful social media influencer, some things have changed. They had to — she had that epiphany when she was planning her wedding to now-husband Chris Dorsch last year and realized she found no joy in it. “It was no longer about me and my husband. I wasn’t thinking about us getting married and how I got to spend my life with him,” she shared. “I started thinking, ‘Oh my gosh there are gonna be 800 thousand people that are gonna be watching my wedding and judging it … it was really sad.'”

When it got to the point that she “just wanted to stay in bed all day,” she told Dorsch and her mom about her depression. A doctor prescribed her Lexapro, a medication she says has helped eliminate the “immediate anxiety” she’d become accustomed to waking up with. She also started meditating and doing yoga. And, in regards to her online life, she started being more honest with herself and others. She said, “I have a lot of flaws. My marriage isn’t perfect and my life isn’t perfect.”

Plus, she simply doesn’t judge her value by social media currency anymore.

She knows that even if the social media fame were to go away, she has people in her life that love her for her. In sharing her story, she’s presumably hoping other aspiring influencers come to that realization sooner rather than later. “I’ve seen women of all ages base their self-worth off of their Instagram likes and it’s not healthy,” she said. “You are worth so much more than your likes.”