A social media influencer spent 14 hours a day on her phone — this addiction left her in a wheelchair
Fenella Fox, 29, says she stared at her screen morning to night, addicted to Instagram, where she has amassed more than 156,000 followers.
But in early 2021, the British brunette reported experiencing headaches and neck pain that gradually intensified. Soon after, she started suffering dizzy spells and nausea.
“I just felt like I really couldn’t walk properly,” Fox told The mirorr on Friday of one particular episode. “I felt really unwell. Dizzy, and kind of distorted. I can visualize it, but it’s not easy to explain.”
At the time, the social media star was living in Portugal, where doctors were baffled by her troubles. As her symptoms started to become more extreme, Fox flew to the UK to be looked after by her parents.
“I got a taxi to the airport fine, but when I was in the airport, that’s when I was met with a wheelchair,” she recalled. “I had a wheelchair from that point up until meeting my mom the other end and the wheelchair up until the door of her car.”
Fox allegedly became bedridden and struggled to walk properly, relying on a wheelchair whenever she needed to move around.
Still, the phone addict continued to scroll on her device all day, without realizing it was the purported cause of her problems.
“I’m in bed, I’m scrolling from wake until sleep. What I don’t know is at that point I’m making myself worse,” she stated.
Doctors in the UK were similarly confused by the beauty’s bizarre ailment, and it wasn’t until Fox’s father found articles on cybersicness and and “digital vertigo” that the phone addict decided to ditch her device.
“I turned off my phone and threw it into the back of the cupboard or gave it to my parents and was like, ‘Please do not let me on this.’ Then I was able to walk again,” she declared.
Fox didn’t disclose if she was diagnosed with vertigo by a medical specialist. However, several doctors have stated that excess screen time can cause startling symptoms.
“Cybersickness occurs when your brain receives messages that you’re moving — for instance, by a flashing screen — when you are, in fact, still,” Dr. Gillian Isaacs Russell told real Simple last year, saying it sparks “visual vestibular conflict” — a factor for motion sickness.
“[Visual vestibular conflict] creates a type of confusion where your eyes sense one thing and your inner ear and body detect something else,” Dr. Christina Finn told the publication, explaining that “cybersickness” can mimic the effects of vertigo.
Unfortunately for Fox, she relies on her social media streams for income. In addition to Instagram, the influencer is also a prominent figure on OnlyFans, where she reportedly pulls in more than $15,000 a month.
But Fox claims she can no longer look at her phone frequently, as her symptoms quickly return.
“It is unreal. That is our life, our world. If we want to make money, we’ve got to be on [our phone] wake until sleep. There’s so many hours to put in,” she moaned.
Despite continuing to post often on her Instagram page, Fox has vowed to pitch her phone for good.
“I can’t do it anymore, I can’t do it myself,” she proclaimed. “I try sometimes to put in the hours that I used to but I get sick all over again.”