I’m afraid this blog has the potential to come across as an outlet for self-pity. And I really don’t want to come across as a martyr. That’s not what I’m trying to do. Social media is filled with the happiest moments of people’s lives, which is great. But I’m trying to show the other side of things. I’m trying to share the real side of life. Initially I though this might be a good medium to advocate for IBD patients. But I’ve come to learn that it really is about advocating for everyone. We ALL come with a story of pain, or struggle or heartache. And I want to share mine in an attempt to be genuine and sincere.
In an effort to avoid medication for my anxiety I am trying to make small changes in my life that might help. I came to an awareness that a lot of my anxiety stems from social media. When I was in the hospital I spent literally hours just staring at my phone. Instagram. Facebook. Snapchat. Twitter. Pinterest….Repeat. It was mainly because I had nothing better to do with my time, but also because I was dreaming about the days after I was discharged. “I’ll dye my hair like this girl, I’ll order these dresses online, I’ll plan a trip to this place, I’ll get my dream job, Maybe I’ll meet this person….blah blah blah.” I use this word carefully but it really did become an addiction.
Now that I’ve been out living my actual life I still find myself glued to my phone. It’s the first thing I look at in the morning, it’s all I do on my break, and then when I’m home in the evening I have my TV on in the background while I am again, staring at my phone. It sounds bad but in reality everyone does it. I am just admitting it. (“Hi, I’m Stacey and I have a problem.”)
I’ve realized that the anxiety is 2 fold:
- I’m wasting my time. There are far more productive, healthy things I could be doing that looking at a screen. Instead of reading twitter I should be reading a book. I should be writing more in a journal than on a status update. I should be going outside instead of looking at pictures of outside. I should be talking to real people, and listening to them instead of sending a DM or photo comment. I should be exercising instead of reading body inspiration posts. I should be LIVING.
I wrote a post a while ago about how I’ve got myself into a rut about waiting, And a lot of this anxiety comes from waiting around. Waiting for my next surgeries. Waiting to move on. But it’s a very scary thought that life is happening RIGHT NOW. So I’ve come to realize that I need to put down my phone, and go enjoy it. In real life. In front of my eyes, and not behind a screen.
- Social media is the highlight reel. It is a rare occasion when someone posts a shitty picture about a shitty day. No one’s going to announce that they’re still stuck in a mediocre job, that they feel lonely, that they’re fighting with their boyfriend or that they have financial issues. And that’s fine. To be honest I don’t really want to look at those kinds of posts. BUT instead you’re left with: “New Job!” “I’m so in love with this guy!” “Just bought a new house! (or car, or boat, or airplane. Whatever.) “We’re engaged!” “Transformation Tuesday: Down another 25lbs!” “Travelling to Australia tomorrow. Then off to Thailand.” “Look at my baby bump!” “Leafs Game.” “Jays Game.” “COURTSIDE.”
Please do not confuse this post as me being a cynic. I am not. I enjoy seeing people successes. I enjoy sharing those moments of pure happiness. But it’s overwhelming. And it makes me feel like I’m behind in life, like I should be at a certain point with my career, relationships, and health. Which is sad.
It’s also misleading. You look at someone’s account or profile and all you see are these successes. And I think about how everyone has it so figured out. Everyone else is so happy. Everyone else has it better. But logically I know that’s incorrect because people DO come with baggage. People DO have shitty days.
On the other hand, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for these various platforms. I have related to people who have gone through similar experiences. People have sent me incredible words of inspiration and support. I use it to keep family and friends updated. I love seeing people’s pictures of their weddings, or babies or dogs. I like to see where people are travelling to and sharing occurrences from around the world. I laugh when I see a good meme. I enjoy sharing my own story. Group chats are practical and convenient. Sometimes I like reading debates or comments on controversial articles or statuses. I feel connected when world events happen. I use Twitter to stay up to date on current news. Hey I even like a good Snapchat filter now and then. There is good.
This is not a bash at social media. I would be a hypocrite if I wrote to you about how evil it is and how I vow to stop using it. But as a self-reflective person, I need to be aware of triggers to my own mental health. The last few weeks I have deleted all my social media apps from my phone from Monday-Friday. Just my apps, not my accounts. I figure not too much is going on and if anyone really needs me, they can text or call. On the weekends though I do like to see what’s going on and that’s an appropriate time to lounge and get caught up. So far it’s been a little bit difficult but I have noticed it helps with my anxiety. I’m not constantly checking my phone because I know nothing’s there. I’m using my time to read, write and reflect.
And I feel calm. (ish)