By Christina Caron, Illustration: Nathalie Lees, The New York Times, October 29, 2022
About a year into the pandemic, Kianna, a high school student in Baltimore, was feeling increasingly isolated. While sitting alone in her bedroom there was too much time to think, she said, so sometimes she would fixate on her seclusion or start critiquing her appearance.
“I remember just being on TikTok for hours during my day,” added Kianna, 17, who asked to be referred to by only her first name when speaking about her mental health. “That’s when my self-esteem started declining.”
At the time, in early 2021, her 10th grade classes were virtual, and she had begun texting with her friends instead of talking to them. Her anxiety bred headaches, poor sleep and the odd feeling of living outside of her body. Then, she started seeing videos on TikTok about depersonalization disorder, a type of dissociative condition that can make people feel disconnected, as though their body is detached from their thoughts, almost like being in a dream.