As TikTok continues to grow in popularity in the sea of social media apps, talent from across Northern Ireland is shining through the For You Page.
Whether it’s delicious food, life hacks, positive messages or raising awareness for mental health, TikTok offers something for everyone – and one East Belfast woman is doing it all.
Jade Stone first downloaded TikTok out of boredom, and something to keep her occupied after hearing of her little sister on the app.
But she says she had thought it was something “for kids to record themselves dancing about” – now her content is being viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.
Speaking to Belfast Live, Jade opened up about her battle with mental health, going through dark days and trying to stay positive in a way to help others.
She said: “I am currently unemployed as I stopped working at the start of the first lockdown due to my mental health but before this I worked in many jobs- I was never one for keeping a job as I always liked to try new things but never really found something I proper loved.
“I worked for Vodafone, Sky TV and Broadband, I worked in JD sports, Dundonald International Icebowl, KFC and a few other places. You could definitely say I’ve had my fair share of jobs. Then during the first lockdown with having to come out of work; not able or in a fit state to leave my house, I didn’t want to face anyone or anything so I downloaded TikTok out of complete boredom and curiosity to see what it was all about and for something to keep me occupied.
“There wasn’t very many known “TikTokers” from Belfast and I didn’t think I was age appropriate for it to be honest. I signed up to it anyway and after signing up to and doing my first flick down the “For you page” my opinion on the app was instantly changed.
“There was all sorts of videos, all types of people, each doing their own thing and me being a typical Belfast girl; the nosiest of the bunch, I started reading through comments and was amazed at how much support people were giving each other and raving each other up in the comments.”
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Jade says she also came across a lot of people on the app who would spread “good vibes and positive energy” and this content has lifted her spirits and made her feel better – from this she become attached to the app.
Her first video was one of Jade in her mum’s car pulling up to McDonald’s and asking for “a double please burger cheese”.
She explained: “Basically I was just laughing at how much of an anxiety head I was when it came to ordering food or speaking to someone I didn’t know. I’m pretty sure the caption was “ordering food with anxiety bes like…” this video went viral. It was my first video and my first viral video and it was surprising as to how many people related to it and how many views, shares, comments and likes there was under it.
“This video was for a laugh and a joke but it just clicked in my head and I thought to myself “I could actually do something useful on this app”. Anxiety is a mental health problem, it’s real. Mental health is a serious topic, it’s something that everyone has and mental health problems is something that a lot of people will experience at least once in their lives.
“Personally I don’t think that awareness is raised enough about it or for it and not very many people are educated on it. It’s not something you’re ever taught in school, we were all taught about physical health. but never mental health.
“I think a lot of people in this day in age are just to quick to judge, thinking you can read a book by it’s cover but the truth is you can’t see what’s on the inside and I knew that If I could reach so many people with what I was call “a silly video”, I could reach and relate to people who are actually going through tough times.
“Once you start using the app TikTok will start showing videos that they think is made ‘for you’ so with me making videos speaking up about mental health, sharing my story with people, opening up to all these strangers – hundreds of thousands of people – who I didn’t even know, putting my face out to millions of people whose “for you pages” my videos started to land on.
“I wouldn’t ever be a person who would speak to anyone about my mental health problems, I always kept things bottled up inside and this is no good to anybody. It’s like sticking mentos into a bottle of coke and putting the lid back on, eventually it’s gonna explode. I like to think of this as my head.
“With TikTok it was just so different, I just felt like I wasn’t talking to anyone in particular, but I knew by sharing the video someone could relate and know they weren’t alone in whatever they were or still are going through. At the start I wasn’t even doing it for me, I don’t know how my anxiety let me do it but I did..”
The 21-year-old told Belfast Live that her most influential videos would be based around the topic of mental health – her “day in the life” videos.
“Being someone who suffers with mental health problems myself- basically I just had to get up and get on with my day, even if I didn’t want to face the world. I would start of by making my bed, going in and getting a glass of water, making breakfast and so on. Some days I didn’t eat, some days I did, but the important thing was that I was out of my bed and the bed was made.
“If you’ve never experienced mental health problems making a bed may seem like a normal and easy thing to do but for those who do suffer daily, it’s a task to even get out of it. These are things that I wouldn’t have done before making or watching TikTok.
“I love watching motivational videos on TikTok because these help me see things threw a different perspective. I also like to watch satisfying videos because these calm my anxiety. I like to watch videos of old people because I just love wee old people and hope to grow old and happy some day myself I just like a bit of everything to be honest.”
Through her massive follower base, Jade is now encouraging people to “do each thing one step at a time, no matter how small of a job it is”.
She said she started to notice that these videos were helping her personally and that her mindset was beginning to shift, feeling more positive each day and that she had a purpose in life.
“Don’t get me wrong the days I didn’t post the “day in the life” videos, I more than likely lay in my room in darkness melted out and overthinking but that’s okay because I’d come back on the next day with another one, grateful that I get to live another day in the life and spread words of motivation and help someone out.”
Now a huge part of Jade’s TikTok presence is cookery videos, making “mad, random and crazy concoctions” for thousands to try at home.
Hailing her granny Maggie’s cooking skills as an inspiration, Jade said she is happy to make others happy on the app which makes her feel safe and supported.
“I am supported by so many strangers who most I’ve never even met in person but these people are literally the most kindest, genuine, loving and caring people I’ve ever spoken to and we’re always there to show support and back me up on what I was preaching.
“TikTok was really the only thing they kept me on my feet, made me want to get out of bed everyday, made me want to have fun, be more positive, be more productive, spread good vibes and try to be a better person. I can truly say that TikTok has helped shape my life and helped carry me out of a very dark stage of my life.
“It has made me a much more confident, caring and crazier person and has made me see life in so many new ways and through so many different perspectives. It’s shown me that there are so many good people out there and has opened so many new doors for me. It actually helped me understand myself more and get to know myself better as a person. It’s mad how much an app can change your life. It really is.
“It’s crazy how much my following base grew- I was on TikTok I’d say about four months and had about 70K followers. My TikTok account grew to 123,000 followers. That is such an incredible feeling to know that that many people was behind you, supporting you, cheering you on, showing love, showing support and just liking me for who I am and not someone I was trying to be.
“I was put off making TikTok videos for a while and let other distractions and obstacles get in my way but after taking part in this article and after loosing my good friend Abbie Algie to a mental health battle, it’s made me want to come back and do what I love to do and help those who need it. I know that’s what she’s screaming at me to do. Help others and make people smile.”
And staying to her positive style, Jade is urging young people who may be too shy or nervous to embark on a TikTok journey, to “just go for it”.
She added: “Be yourself, have fun, have a laugh with your friends and above all be kind. I just want to say a massive, massive thank you to everyone who had supported me on my old account. I wouldn’t be where I am today-mentally-if it wasn’t for the love and support you showed.”
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