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How I improved my mental health with social media

INSTAGRAM @vettechprobs   
Shannon Wills is the creator of the @VetTechProbs Instagram page. She graduated from the Vet Tech Institute of Houston in 2012 with an Associate’s degree and has been working as a veterinary technician ever since. Shannon is very passionate about empowering people and sharing her knowledge and experiences with those who will listen. She is married with one child, two dogs, two cats, and a beta fish.

Sometimes, the stresses of the veterinary field can drive you mad and because of that, it is important to learn how to express your feelings in a positive way. My life has been full of so many ups and downs due to my actions and reactions, which is why I want to talk about how to stay afloat, even during bad days.

Often, there can be drama in clinics. You can find yourself in a very toxic environment and between the long hours, little pay, tension between coworkers and doctors, and difficult clients, it can be overwhelming. There was a time that I noticed myself getting increasingly tired of all the negative vibes at work and getting burnt out. Every day, I would seem to bring home another issue. This made me realize that we need to make sure when we are letting off steam, we are not creating more issues for ourselves and our team while doing so.

On a particularly bad day, I posted an e-card on my personal Instagram account and someone I worked with sent my management a screenshot. A coworker of mine had liked my post and commented a high five emoji and we were both called into the office the next day. I was taken out of the surgery suite, where I was monitoring an orthopedic surgery. My manager told me that I violated their social media rule, although my page had no ties with the clinic, and anyone could find my page and if they “knew” who I was and tie me back to the clinic. My coworker and I were given a three day suspension without pay. That is when I knew I needed to change my mindset and how I released my stress. During the suspension, my coworker and I went out for margaritas and came up with the idea of creating a veterinary meme Instagram page, where I could vent out all of my frustrations (and yours) without anyone knowing who I was. That’s when @VetTechProbs was born.

The account has become a way to express how I am feeling, without jeopardizing my job. I get messages every day thanking me for bringing humor into veterinary medicine and get submissions from followers who feel others will relate to their content. Almost overnight, I went from one thousand followers to ten thousand, and now I have over fifty thousand followers!

Once my reach was so big, I knew that I needed to start helping the veterinary field in other positive ways. I decided to utilize the Highlight reels on my profile to inspire and be easily available to my followers. In the Highlights, you will see motivational posts, hustle shout-outs (which celebrates the side jobs of veterinary professionals), Animal Investigations and Response (AIR) content (Texas state-wide response unit, responsible for servicing the state during natural disasters and large-scale cruelty response needs), and a “now hiring” section for places looking for new veterinary professionals. Instead of keeping @VetTechProbs as a meme page that is constantly nagging on the veterinary field and what we go through on a daily basis, I also try to help support those who are working hard day in and day out for patients and themselves.

If you can take one thing away from me, please let it be that no matter the setback you think you are going through or the anger you feel over a certain situation, there is always a way out and there is always someone there to help you. There is a balance to find so you don’t fall and stay in a dark hole. Your mental health is so important, and if you don’t take the time to help yourself, you may get stuck there. Whatever you enjoy doing, do more of it. I mean that with every ounce of my being. If you use your talents to for good, you will feel better and in return, will inspire so many others to do the same. My challenge for you is anytime you are feeling overwhelmed, write it out. Write it in a way that you can express yourself and also help others to learn the knowledge that you possess. You may think that the client that always treats you as “just the technician” and ignores you until the DVM comes into the equation is a total jerk, but consider what they are going through. Maybe they don’t understand how much knowledge each veterinary professional is filled with.

This field is full of so many bright and inspiring people, and we should all start educating our followers and clients in a way that make our readers feel accepted and not judged. Instead of posting that negative meme on your personal Facebook or Instagram, use that experience as a way to educate your followers. Instead of venting to your coworkers about something that really upset you, think about it, and train your mind to find something good about the situation. I hope my experience shows you that there is always a positive to a negative and you can do anything that you set your mind to.

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