For those that don't know, I have experienced anxiety and depression since my childhood. I was given the diagnosis of "generalized anxiety disorder" when I was 20. When you have an anxiety disorder, it never really goes away. Anxiety and depression are always there, waiting in the distance ready to come back into your life if you will allow it. Allowing depression and anxiety to take over in your life isn't difficult at all. It's not some long dragged out process of becoming depressed. If any point I stop moving for a bit to rest or to feel comfortable for a little too long, not to feel exposed for a moment, it will sneak up and grab me tight.
Depression is funny in the way that you don't even realize what's happening until you're deep in it. Suddenly I look around and realize that I'm doing it again. I stop giving things my all. I start to spend more and more time in bed. I set the coast button and sit back as life moves by me on autopilot. I lived much of my life this way. I was unhappy and really didn't value myself, but the darkness felt comfortable, so I stayed.
I went through something very traumatic last fall. My life was turned upside down and I could no longer ignore that I needed to make drastic changes in my life. I finally admitted that this was all bigger than me, that I needed help. I began working with a therapist. I bought every self help book that was suggested to me. I reached out and grew much closer to my family. I shut everything out and focused fully on getting my life back on track. This was the most difficult time I have ever been through in my life and I'm forever grateful that it happened. I realized that everything in my life was a choice and I finally started making choices for me.
It's easy when we have these huge accomplishments to get stuck admiring our handiwork that we forget to continue moving. I talked about this in my last post, but I recently heard it explained as, "spending too much time polishing our trophies" and I thought it was a perfect description. So, what does this all have to do with social media? Well, social media is where a lot of us tend to display our trophies proudly without any of the tears, failures, and stumbles it took us to get there. Trying to keep up with it all can easily snowball into feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy.
Although social media is amazing in so many ways, it can become a toxic poison in our lives. Social media is awesome in the way that it can help to connect us all. With a click of a button I can reconnect with someone from my past that I have missed. I can even connect with people from other states, countries, continents that share my interests or views. There are many people on my social media sites that I may have only met once or we only know each other from those sites that I am so grateful to have on my feed. There are so many incredible people on my feeds that help to lift me up and I would love to get a coffee with some day. I really love that and I love that I can so easily connect with so many beautiful souls that I would not have had the opportunity to get to know otherwise.
Given all the great things about social media, there is a dark side as well. When I use Facebook or similar sites, I'm exposing my most inner thoughts, outrages, and humble brags with all of my friends and acquaintances. It's so odd that people that we once met at a party or someone we have never met can now come to our page and make judgements about our lives, our appearance, or can even argue with us about our differing political views. It is when social media's purpose of connection is mutated into a means of comparison and distraction that we begin to suffer. It is mere human instinct to wish to belong and be liked. When it comes down to it, our social media feeds are not reality. It's a distraction from the real world and it's easy to get swept away in the fantasy.
I began this website as a way to share my journey and connect with others. I thought the best way to get my work out there would be to share on social media. This has worked in some ways, but I have found that when I share my work on social media it is so easy to get caught up in how many likes and the response of others that it begins to cause me a lot of unnecessary anxiety. I find that the more time I spend on Facebook the sadder I feel. I feel sad that so many people no longer seem to value life or loving each other. I start to compare myself to the others on my feed. I then begin to care too much what people think of me and I stop living authentically.
Before I know it, I'm staying in bed until noon and lashing out at my loved ones. Depression and anxiety are waiting there to welcome me home again. It is so easy for me to waste over half of my day checking then refreshing all of my sites that I look up and it's dark again, another day wasted. I don't want to live like that. Being depressed feels easy and comfortable in the moment, but it's also so miserable. After experiencing how incredible and beautiful life can be, I can't go back to allowing depression to run my life. I can't go back to sleep. I feel myself drifting off, my eyelids are getting heavy, so it's time to smack myself awake.
I have found that I'm happiest and most fulfilled in life when I'm creating and focusing on love, loving myself and spreading love to others. Using social media to compare myself to others no longer serves me, so I'm letting it go. With that said, I'm going to be taking a break from social media; a much needed social media detox. I need to take more time to focus on myself and working towards my dreams. Luckily for my readers, this means much more writing and hopefully better content since I am freeing myself of these self-imposed shackles. I will still be active on my Instagram (heartsvoyage), here, and I created a youtube channel, which I will provide the link for when my lovely partner can teach me how to make videos (he's the tech genius, I'm still figuring out how to use my fitbit). I hope to provide weekly blog posts and videos within the next month. Yay, progress!
A note for anyone currently suffering from anxiety, depression, or just doubting yourself because of too much comparison, know that you are beautiful. You are an amazing person despite how you are feeling right now. You do not need to look around or seek outward validation. You are an individual and can kill it just by being you. We all are different and have something unique to offer to this world. Don't deprive the world of what you have to offer because of fear or doubt. Don't hide your shine, the world wants, no needs, to see it.
Depression is so hard to untangle ourselves from, but it starts with untangling that first knot. Try to do something just for you today. Go for a walk outside, take a long bubble bath, take 10 minutes to meditate, just do something that is 100% for you today. Do something that will benefit your body and spirit like eating better, exercising, releasing what no longer feels right, or doing some inner work. It begins with baby steps and soon you will be able to wave goodbye to your depression and walk in the sun where you belong, I promise.
Thank you for reading. Sending love and positive vibrations your way on this beautiful morning.