Not so social media.

Dear Journal, 

I did an experiment recently as I was facing a lot of darkness in my life.  I discontinued my use of all things social media for a little over a month.  No Facebook.  No Instagram.  No Twitter.  I only allowed myself to use our organization’s “company media” platform we network with each other on, and I was still on email.  This is part of the reason I’ve been silent on my blog, too. When I write on here, I’m always tempted to have Facebook up in the background for some reason! But, now I feel as though it is time to talk about my experience. Let me tell you this was no easy feat, but it was exactly what I needed.

May was certainly not my month.  If we are really being real, 2018 is not my year. I was worn out, depressed, and anxious even more than normal.  I was facing uncertainty about my evaluation for bariatric surgery, and I was awaiting a different appointment to see if any of my hormone levels improved.  This is a double edged problem, in a sense.  At my current health situation — diabetic, hypothyroid, PCOS, clinically obese — I most likely would not be able to become pregnant or if I could get pregnant, having a viable pregnancy would be unlikely.  That has been so hard for me to accept.  My doctor is fairly certain that about a year ago I had a very early term miscarriage based on some reactions from my body.  I can’t get that off my mind, and wonder if that truly was the case.  I’m getting older (OK, I’m only going to be 27 in a couple weeks, but that is pushing 30!), and the more time that goes by the more defeated I feel about having a family.  My husband, bless his heart, is patient and thinks that when the time is right and if it is meant to be, we’ll be able to have kids some day.  So this leads me to my social media experience.

My summary of my Facebook feed: Everyone is having babies.  Everyone is losing weight.  Everyone seems happy.  Everyone is head over heels for their significant other.  Now, I am very happy for my friends and acquaintances, but as I scrolled, it was not helping my mental state at all.  Essentially it looked like everyone was winning at life and I was losing.  I know that it’s easy to LOOK happy on social media, hell, if you looked at my Facebook page, you’d probably think I was super happy, stable, and enjoying life.  But, even so, I realized that I was living in the world of social media, dwelling on what others had that I might never have, as my husband and I got in yet another fight when I was feeling too fat to go to a BBQ.  I needed to stop.

The first few days of my absence of a social media presence was SO hard.  I realized just how many times I was reaching for my phone to just scroll through other people’s lives and how often I was ignoring what was right in front of me.  It was habitual. The more time that went by the more clear my mind got.  I was reading more, writing more, and even talking to my husband more.  I stopped comparing my life to everyone around me.  I stopped wondering if what I was doing or not doing was “right” based on the people around me.  It was an incredible feeling.

A few days ago I opened up my Facebook page and Instagram page again. I’m happy to be back, but I have a new respect for these things.  I no longer feel the need to spend hours a day on these platforms just in case I might miss some big news.  I cut down my online social circle, and I’m actually happy being on social media again.  If I find myself going down the path of borderline social media addiction again, I’ll put a stop on it.  I encourage you to look at just how much you are hiding behind a social media persona, and to redefine your presence online.  It might just clear your mind!

-s

“Weight Wounds.”

Dear Journal,

on this day

The ‘On this Day’ memory feature on Facebook always elicits a plethora of feelings whenever I open it.  I’ve had Facebook since about 2007 so I am always faced with over ten years of memories and ten years of people who were part of my life at various points.  As I scroll, some things make me so happy to remember, some things sad, and some things make me cringe! Apparently, back in the day, I also used to partake in some ‘vaugebooking’, but even ten years later I can often remember what a certain quote was about. (Spoiler: probably boy troubles in my younger years. 😉 )

Today a particular post struck me.  I posted it in the morning before school.  The year 2009 — only a few weeks before my high school graduation.  In the morning I posted, “Another day of not feeling like enough.  My jeans are getting too tight again.  My mom said my face is getting rounder. Why is my weight ALWAYS such an issue? Here we go … starve mode … have to look good for graduation!”   The sad thing?  I had nothing to worry about with my weight then.  I was healthy.  I was strong.  I was most definitely not overweight.  This was just the beginning of what would eventually become a lifetime struggle with my weight.  About a year later I would be diagnosed with PCOS and the issues would only keep on coming from then on.

I’m so mad at myself for living in a state of “weight panic” most of my high school years.  Every single day I obsessed about how “fat” I was getting. I tried every fad diet, every fasting technique, and more to try to control my weight.  But, in reality, I know that this only made things worse.  Those tactics probably messed up my metabolism for years to come.  I remember a specific diet that consisted of just eating tuna, broccoli, and grapefruit.  So…much…tuna.  I still can’t look at the stuff to this day.

Additionally, as I consider the comment about my mom saying my face was getting rounder, I’m annoyed.  I love my mother dearly and she’s done so much for me, but I’m not sure she realized how much I struggled with my weight concerns, and she only exemplified them.  My mom is tiny and has never had to pay attention to what she eats and she never gains a pound.  She just doesn’t understand the struggles.  Please, please refrain from pointing out things like weight gain especially when you are talking to impressionable young women. Those comments she always quipped had a lasting impression.  So much so that even nearly 27 year old me always waits for a weight comment from her even though, at this point, I think I’ve gained too much weight and I think she thinks I’m already lost.  (She does still say things like, “That shirt really looks good with your body type.” Usually an over-sized comfort shirt.  Hey, thanks, mom.)  But, that’s so minor now it hardly matters.

I urge you to encourage the young females in your life to nourish their growing bodies and eat healthy.  They are more than what the scale says and they should be happy with who they are. (I KNOW that is harder said than done.  Self acceptance can be hard.) Even if you notice they are adding on a few extra pounds, don’t point it out … maybe sit down and cook a healthy meal together or go for a refreshing walk.  Teach your kids (and the kids around you) how to take care of their bodies and teach them how to love who they are.  Also, refrain from expressing your own negative thoughts about your body in front of them.  I used to occasionally express my displeasure in my body in front of my friend’s seven year old.  She looked at me one day and said, “don’t say that!” That had an impression on me.  Even if in my mind I’m completely disgusted with myself I refrain from that kind of talk in front of her.

If you’re unhappy with who you are, put the steps in place to make a change….a small one or maybe a big one like weight loss surgery.  You deserve to be the best you! I’m glad I saw this post today because I remember how deep my “weight wounds” go.  I am looking forward to my bariatric surgery consult in a couple weeks, but for now, I need to live my life and be happy with who I am.

How do you embrace you you are…faults and all?  How do you present yourself in front of the young people who are watching you?  Feel free to share!

-s