Instagram – not so great after all?

I was always in the mind-set that social media never affected me. That when people said, “Oh spending all your time on that stuff will do nothing but bad for your mental health”, I always made excuses. I always said that the stuff didn’t affect me, or I wasn’t looking at that stuff at all. But god was I wrong. Yesterday I took a step towards removing the toxic life of social media out of my life. I created a new Instagram. And I know what you are thinking, you’re thinking “what the hell is she on about, you haven’t changed anything”. Well, wrong. I have created a new page, that follows no real people. All I follow on there is photography accounts, fan pages for things I love, videos of musicals and positivity pages. I did this so no one see’s me. No one can see who I follow or who I don’t. But more importantly, Instagram doesn’t hold a power over me anymore. When I go on the app now, it makes me feel good. I see cool photos of beautiful places, posts about movies I love or just pictures of ducks. But I see no real people. So, there is no one that I am comparing myself to. I wasn’t doing it actively either, I wasn’t looking at pictures of girls and thinking ‘she has nicer hair than me’ or I wasn’t looking at how much work people were doing and feeling guilty I wasn’t, I wasn’t looking for approval. It was a subliminal message. All of these images of people were seeping into my brain and planting themselves, planting ideas that I wasn’t enough. Not good enough. And it was so sad and tiring. I’m now not posting things on my story or feed to get approval or appeal to the people who followed me. I now just enjoy my time. 

I have seen lots of people over lockdown who have deleted social media completely. Do I think I could do that? No. I’m not going to sit here and say I am a perfect person for making this change, it is a realistic and attainable change. And I’m happy I did it, I feel so good. In terms of other social medias, I tend not to use them too much. The main ones I use are Tumblr (I know, I sound like a 2013 emo kid), Twitter and TikTok (mainly for comedy purposes, and to feed my Harry Styles obsession). Facebook is mainly opened once in a blue moon for checking birthdays and now Instagram is just a positive feed. Twitter feels different to Instagram as it is just words mainly with the odd picture, but it is mainly comedy. And Tumblr, may be outdated to a lot of people, but I LOVE it. It feeds my creativity and I never feel negative while I’m on it, and I think that is the most important thing. 

Now, this post isn’t saying that everyone should do this. Not at all. But I think if you have those weird feeling on Instagram, feeling the need to post to appeal to others or just coming off feeling bad about being in bed all day or not trying to lose weight, maybe try taking a step back and trying the new account method. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t deleted my other account, and I will still pop in every once in a while, to keep updated and see what people are up to, but very rarely. I think creating a safe page, just for you, that no one knows about will allow you to just be you. Follow those embarrassing accounts you couldn’t follow on your main because people could see. Like whatever you want. Be whoever you want. That is the beauty of social media after all, you can take what you want and leave what you want. And I have made an active change to leave so so much behind. 

Me, myself and I

For the longest time, I have always felt the pressure to find a boyfriend. Through societies standards having a partner must mean that you are beautiful and valued (which is a load of crap). I always struggled with this growing up. All through high school and college and the start of uni, I thought there was something wrong with me as I was never able to get a boyfriend. We are made to believe that being in a relationship will make you happy. I have seen it and heard it through friends who enter relationships saying, “I have never been so happy”. For the longest time, when I was told that, it made me feel like a mutant that I would never be happy the way they are because no one wants to date me. So, I felt I needed to shed some light on how this pressure we all put on ourselves is unnecessary. 

Constantly seeing people in relationships and growing up believing, from many Disney films, that the only happily ever after I will ever get is from a man is ludicrous. As I grow up, I realise that being happy as my own person is far more important that craving a relationship to finally find happiness. For a start, most relationships end (sorry to people reading who are in a relationship, don’t worry I won’t put any breakup statistics in to make you panic). The idea of finding a person you will be with forever is very rare, it does happen, but its rare. What we are taught of soul mates and being with one person forever can be damaging. Whether you jump from person to person or are just with one person forever or with no one, what path you choose in terms of romantic relationships is what is good for you. And this blog post is about my growth in my ideas in relationships. 

Now I am older, I have realised a lot of things. Firstly, I love being by myself. I love doing what I want to do, watch what I want to watch, do what I want and be who I want. At this point in my life, I don’t think I need a boyfriend, because I am happy with who I am, and I don’t know if I am ready to accommodate my time for a significant other. And hey, maybe that will change very soon, but I don’t think I need to worry about it anymore. Secondly, I don’t worry about what my future looks like anymore. I used to have an ideal life in my mind, with a man and possibly children and then every time something went wrong with boys or feelings, I would get upset that that idea would never happen. But why was I creating a happy ending based on having a guy in the picture? Now my ideal future has me in it…… and that’s about it for now. My friends are there and my family and I have career plans in the ideal future, but that’s it. No man, no Disney-worthy happily ever after. Because my happily ever after starts with me being happy, and I am lucky enough to have found happiness in solitude, which I am very lucky to have. It can be hard when you rely on another person for your happiness, but it is also completely understandable. 

This post came a little out of the blue, but I felt it needed to be said. If you are in a relationship you think will last forever, that is so so amazing and don’t think that this post is telling you to be happy alone. If another person makes you happy, your happiness is all that matters. But if you are like me and have found a happiness being just me, myself and I, that is so cool. And I know, you may feel judgment when people ask about partners or ask how many kids you want, but just know, as long as you are happy, that is all that matters and you never need to explain your reason for happiness to anyone. 

YOUR life is YOURS to live. Make the choices you want and be who you want to be. Be happy and be unapologetic. 

Stress and What If’s

Today, my lecturer said to us “98% of the things you stress about never even happen”. To be honest I think he just made up that statistic but I found it….. interesting. At first I though ‘that can not be true’ because I was almost certain that the things I worry about do happen. But the more I sat and thought about it, the more I saw he was right. So many anxious thoughts enter my head each day. Almost every single minute of the day, my brain whirls with ‘what ifs’. For example, when I get in a lift I think ‘what if the lift stops and I’m stuck in here’ or ‘what if that car decides to drive up the pavement and hit me’ or ‘what if I say the wrong thing and this person won’t like me anymore’. But the lift stops at the floor and I get out, the car carries on driving past me and the conversation I have is perfect and they are my friend. The worries that entered my head don’t fabricate, but I still worry about them, which is what is so frustrating.

Anxiety is also described as having a ‘fight or flight’ response. If you suffer with anxiety (like I do) you could have this fight or flight response multiple, sometimes hundreds of times a day. For a person who doesn’t have anxiety, they would feel this response when they are in a scenario that can put them in danger. But having anxiety gives you this response for almost anything. I have certain things that can trigger my fight or flight response. For example, yesterday morning I woke up with a horrific cold. As I dont get ill very often, when I do get ill I tend to become more anxious. I associate having a cold with having the flu, as a few years ago I had a cold and then the flu one after another, so developing a cold, which is normal, can become a stressful time. But when I think about it, what is the chance I will get the flu again…… it is a very small chance. Despite this thought being brushed away by the logical part of my brain, subconsciously my body still believes it will happen. I have trouble sleeping (the blocked nose DEFIANTLY doesn’t help with this), I have trouble focusing and I spend so much time worrying about other things in my life. But it will pass. The cold will go, the assessments will pass and events I am dreading will come and go. I know that when I feel anxious, one thing that comforts me is telling myself, ‘this feeling will pass, it has too, it is impossible to feel this way forever’ and it always does.

I have what ifs haunting me all day everyday. I constantly think the worst of everything, almost as if I am preparing myself for that thing to happen, so when it doesn’t happen, I am relived. Being stressed is normal, despite it being very effective on the body and mind. Remember that the things you panic about today will resolve themselves and regardless how much you worry or stress, the world will continue to spin. As I re-read the post before I post it, I realise that to people who don’t suffer with anxiety everyday, it may seem like the things I worry about are irrational and are pointless to worry about. But you have to remember, when someone has anxiety their brain won’t think the way a rational, non anxious brain thinks. Their brain starts to prepare them for the things they worry about so that if they do happen (which is a tiny chance it will) then they at least have the comfort that they saw it coming. After all, we all love the feeling that we were right. Anxious brains crave to know that they were right about what they were worrying about, it makes them feel like their worries are rational. Trust in what I say, I am describing my own brain.

So if you find yourself dreading on the what ifs and being stressed about situations you can not control, think of the words of my lecturer – “98% of the things you stress about never even happen”.

New Years can be hard

Now we are at the end of 2019 and we are all about to start 2020 and another decade. But the changing of the years isn’t always easy. I really hate New Years eve. For me, I dont enjoy celebrating the changing of the years, I dont like drinking and clubbing and I dont like to countdown to midnight, but that is just me. A big part of me doesn’t really like reflection on New Years because I only look at the bad. Im always reflecting and remember things from the year that I loved, so I don’t find the need to do it for one day when I do it all the time anyway.

But I think the pressure of New Years is really hard. Last night, I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about the changing of the year. I was worried that I am not doing what everyone else is doing and going out. I was worried because if I were to post about my year, it wouldn’t amount to anyone else’s. I worry that my year wasn’t as good as other peoples, and in a lot of ways it wasn’t. I had one of the worst years I have had, despite so many good things happening to me, and I think that is common of most people. But everyone on social media posts a different version of themselves. I dont think anyone I know will be posting the bad moments from this year. People will post photos of them laughing rather than pictures of them crying, because why would they want people to think they had a bad year.

People love that changing of the years because for some of them it is an opportunity to change themselves but there is nothing to say that they can’t set that in motion at any day of the year. For me, this New Years eve, all I will be doing is seeing another year off. Another year that wasn’t a good year but NO ONE can have a perfect year, no matter how much pressure is applied to it. Everyone will have bad days, no matter how much they try to say ‘I will look for the good in everyday’ because that is almost impossible when you are having a bad day.

So for this new Years, please don’t look at other peoples re-caps of their year and want to be them or question why you aren’t like them because that won’t help at all. No matter how bad your year was, you got through it and you are on the other side. And if you aren’t celebrating tonight, like me, or don’t enjoy New Years why not treat tonight like any other night? Do what you would normally do on a standard Tuesday night. Watch tv, read, cook, have a bath, whatever you usually do, do it the same. I know for a fact that me and my mum don’t even realised it has gone 12 till about 12:24, and I like it that way. But if you are going out this New Years eve, stay safe and celebrate! Enjoy being out with your friends and partying the year away because you deserve to do that. Everyone deserves a fresh start. But while you are planning out your fresh start, please don’t dwell on the past because its over and its gone and all you have now is another year that will be up and down, because having an up and down life is how you know you are living a normal life. After all, you don’t know what’s good without having the bad.

“It can’t get worse”

I hate the saying, it can’t get worse, because these past few weeks have shown me, that it can in fact get worse and as a result, I’m writing this in a very dark place. When I started this blog, I knew I wanted to be completely transparent and post how I feel so others can understand and can relate to me. The past 2 weeks have been the worst I have ever had. I have spent a lot of my time crying, and being sad and feeling as if I’m drowning. To a point where I felt numb because there was so much in my head and so much to think about. My mental health has plummeted to the worst it has ever been, and I felt more depressed than I ever had before. Not only was my mental health crumbling, I had worries and problems with my family. Everything seemed to be crumbling at once for me. I remembered joking about the fact it all started when I bought a new necklace and it must have been cursed, but wearing it or not, nothing got better. 

I’m not ashamed to say that this has been my rock bottom. I have considered, almost daily, dropping out of uni and looking for another path to go on. Maybe try a different course, or not go back to uni at all. But then, the thought of dropping out was more stressful than trying to get through this hard place. As much as I love uni, I never thought it would be this hard. And it is comforting to know that I’m not the only one that has been close to dropping out. I told people I was thinking of dropping out and they greeted me with “yeah, I’ve been there too”. 

It’s easy to put on a front. I’m sure most of the people I go to uni with and see on a daily basis had no clue I was at this point. I tell jokes instead and smile and try and fit in the best I can. I don’t show it on my face, I don’t want to. I don’t like putting the horrible things in my head into other people’s, it’s like I’m giving them a disease. It’s when I wasn’t in uni, doing work or talking to people that I felt the weight, or lack of, in my brain. My brain has mostly been fuzzy the past few weeks, not being able to put a finger on what is wrong or how to change it. But for me, the worst part is not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, not seeing a way out to where I am.

The uni stress will go, deadline after deadline will fly by and the stress will ease off because it will be done. But the stresses and problems in my brain don’t have a deadline. They don’t have a time when they need to be sorted by or when I can finally wave them goodbye like I do with my essays. And that’s what is the most upsetting. It’s like I am stuck in the dark and can’t find the light switch, because there isn’t one. And it’s parts like this that make me feel I’m not normal and I can’t juggle uni and have a normal life. 

I wish I didn’t have to see my friends and people at uni when I’m in this dark and cloudy place. Because I can’t tell them when it will be over. I cant tell them when I will be me again and when I will be happy again and not in this sad place. For my family, it’s easier to know they will still be there at the end of the bad patch, but friends are not the same. And that’s hard for me and for them. It makes me a distant and difficult person. I feel bad telling people who know my mental health past what is going on with me at this moment because I feel that I have already put so much on them before that maybe I should talk to someone else about it or no one at all. Maybe the distance from people will mean I won’t have to explain how I feel now because then I can go back to them me again and not worry about how I act when I’m sad. I do things I can’t explain, I say things that don’t have a reason for and I become a different me. And I know, that eventually, this is will pass, but I don’t know when. And I can’t tell people when, which must be hard for them too. 

I know this is heavy stuff, but I haven’t been able to post in so long because I haven’t been feeling good, and I’m still not good but I know it’s okay. I feel okay to not be okay. And I wanted to know how my bad patches look. Because people’s may look completely different to mine or you might understand the actions I do and be able to relate them to you. I want to be able to look back at this post and feel happy, because instead of being in the tunnel in the dark, I will be stood in the light looking into the dark place that I used to be in. 

Being thankful, even when you aren’t

Trying to say ‘thank you’ to the world when all your sadness can see is everything you don’t have or everything you have lost is a very hard thing to do. When I feel like I am at such a low point and in such a sad mood, I never stop and think about things I should be thankful for instead of things I have lost. Sometimes I walk and look up instead of down. And when I do, I see everything to be thankful for and I smile (probably look very very crazy but that’s not my problem). Recently, I have been trying to find things to be thankful for, and there are so many that sometimes I can’t even begin to list them. But when you have things plaguing your mind, maybe something you are worried about, or a situation you can’t seem to fix or are sad because of something, it’s hard to say thank you. Because why would we say thank you when the things we are focusing aren’t going right? 

That’s the thing I struggle with the most, putting things in perspective. I struggle to have the worries in my head brought down to scale to see how actually big of a problem they are. To me, they are huge problems but when I think of things that could be in place of that situation, really I should be saying “thank you” not “why is this happening?”.

It’s hard to put yourself in other people’s shoes, and you shouldn’t compare yourselves to others and other people’s situations but when you listen to people’s problems and issues, we can be grateful that we aren’t in that position while also being compassionate. You can never ever fully understand how someone is feeling in a situation, but you can listen to them and assure them that the weight they are feeling from the situation is completely valid. That if their every conscious and unconscious thought is consumed by it, then that is okay. 

Something else to remember is that situations or feelings you feel yourself in, they will pass, and they always will. No matter how pressing they seem or how hard they seem to get out of, they will pass. It’s something I have took from learning how to cope with my anxiety is that “I have felt this way before and I coped with it and I will this time, it will pass and I will be okay again”, and I live by that. 

In terms of learning how to say thank you for what you have, if you find it hard to find something, try making a list with simple things at first for example “I have a roof over my head” and then as the list continues to grow it becomes more particular to you. I find it very helpful when I’m feeling down to make a list of things I have that make me happy and what I should be thankful for, and it makes me feel better. It makes me feel that even with what I’m going through, I’m lucky to have all the things on my list because some people dream of having what I have, even if it doesn’t seem like a big thing to me. 

Being ignorant on social media

The saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ is very common. It’s very similar to ‘out of sight, out of mind’. But some people take it out of context and quiet literally bury their head in the sand rather than accept what’s happening. The context in which I’m talking about being ignorant is in the terms of social media. Learning how to ignore petty things you see online, arguments, who likes and who doesn’t like your photos and ignoring what you see others doing. As a teenager, it’s easy to become so absorbed with social media sites that you LIVE for what to post. I consider myself ‘normal’ in the idea I spend a lot of my time on social media. But when I take a step back to look at why I go on social media, I don’t really have an answer. 

Social media is truly revolutionary. I could message someone who is in Australia or see how a certain celebrity has had their nails done. It has made the whole word so much more interconnected, much more than it has ever before. For so many reasons, there is so much to be celebrated in terms of social media and so so much to be grateful for. But the downfalls can cause people to edit themselves to fit into the expectations of social media. 

I feel like I always look for appreciation in the form of a little heart. If my photo isn’t liked by someone in particular or if someone doesn’t like my tweet, I think about it. I worry that my post wasn’t good enough or they didn’t like me, but why does it matter? Face-to-face appreciation is so much more important in today’s generation where people spend more time looking down at their phone than up and looking at the people and places around them. Now, after stopping focusing on likes, I would much rather have a smile or a hug from someone in real life, not a like. 

I recently read a post on Carrie Hope Fletchers blog (which I will link below) that really made me think about who I post on social media for. I rarely post things on my story on Instagram or tweet things just because I feel like sharing it. Usually, I think about what other people will see when they see what I post, and it is exhausting. Sometimes I find myself looking at my social media pages to see what other people would see if they went on it. I worry that what I post would be embarrassing or that I look a certain way in a photo that I shouldn’t post it because people will judge the way I look. Only recently have I started posting for me. Posting pictures that mean something to me and doesn’t mean anything to the people mindlessly scrolling past them. I owe nothing to the pixelated people on the internet, and neither do you. You don’t need to post a picture looking a certain way or share something that will make people think you are amazing. Share things you feel are worth sharing with the world. And show people the real you. The you that is happy and REAL. Don’t filter yourself to fit in, be unique. And if you find yourself not having anything worth posting, then don’t post anything. I very rarely post on Instagram and it’s because I don’t want to, and when I do, it’s something that I feel happy with sharing. But, if it makes you happy to post things, then do it! But maybe don’t live for it, live for real people in your real life a bit more than pixelated people. 

(Link to Carrie’s Blog post – http://www.carriehopefletcher.com/2019/10/a-couple-of-months-ago-i-started-to.html )

Pleasing People.

(I wrote this a few weeks ago but still thought I would share. Hope you all enjoy!)

Pleasing people is a very small act. It can be as much as holding the door open for them or giving them a smile. But for ‘people pleasers’ like me, it’s very hard to have someone not like you. Ever since I was little, I have been a people pleaser. Always agreeing to things (like plans) or saying whatever to make someone happy, even if it won’t make me happy. However, I never grew out of that mentality, in fact, it’s worse now I’m older. I constantly read people’s tones of voice, people’s body language and watch how they are with other people in comparison to me. The harsh reality that I have to face is that, I’m sure lots of people don’t like me secretly (or not so secretly) and sometimes no amount of apologising or asking what you have done is going to change that. No one is perfect. And I know for a fact that I’m not at all. And that’s just the truth. I say things that will upset people, I will do things that make people feel like I’m not a good person to them. But you can not live trying to make everyone happy except yourself. 

The truth is, I drive myself to hell and back a lot of the time because I always think about the people who don’t like me. Because I never, ever want to upset anyone. It’s hard when you have a feeling that someone doesn’t like you or is annoyed by you and then you feel like you should be extra nice to them to show them you care about them but instead you are just annoying them. This is something I do everyday, and I mean EVERYDAY. And it’s hard, but as they say, something worth having is never easy to get.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person alive that constantly has a vhs in my head and I just keep rewinding to watch what I have done to justify why people act the way they do with me, positive or negative. I constantly think about everything I do and say, just another part of me I guess. I try to put it out of my head and think of something else, but easier said than done. It’s almost like telling someone that has a snake around its throat to just think of something else, it’s not that easy. But just know, if you find the voices in your head sound like the ones I am describing, then you aren’t the only one hearing them, which can sometimes be very comforting.

But what I need to start doing is looking at the people who do like me, and appreciating that. Show them how important they are to you and how you are thankful for them. It’s hard when you focus on the bad to see the good, but I think if it happens gradually, it’s an improvement on the way you feel at the moment. And no matter how cloudy or dark your days seem with the negative thoughts about yourself, just remember this very fitting quote from one of my favourite musicals:

‘Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise’.

Anxiety. Wow.

For my first official blog post I thought I would talk about something that is the main problem in my life. Anxiety. It’s such a big word and such a generalised term today. People often say, ‘I feel so anxious’ or ‘that gives me anxiety’ and I always wonder if those words mean the same to them as they do to me. To me, anxiety consumes my every thought. I think about EVERYTHING. I can’t even begin to describe what I overthink or what I think about everyday because I would be listing every thought that ever enters my head, and there would be about 4 million an hour. Even writing this post I’m worried about if people will think I am being rude or if I’m not being compassionate to how they experience anxiety but I can never make everyone happy. 

Day to day, I can keep my anxiety attacks at bay. However, when its bad, its bad. The anxiety attacks are such a minuscule part of my anxiety, which is something that most people don’t understand. I have ‘blips’ (as me and my mum call them) almost everyday, in which if I didn’t control it, it would form into a soul sucking anxiety attack, but over the years, I have got quiet good at keeping them quiet. The hardest part is planning and re-evaluating. I plan every minute of my day, it keeps me calm and keeps me sane. And its hard to describe that to friends and family. It’s hard to explain why I need to have a plan, or need to be there early, or why I eat at certain times and in certain places, why I can’t be spontaneous. It’s hard being a 19 year old uni student and not enjoying nights out and not going because my thoughts keep me ‘safe’ at home and as a result, I look boring (which I probably am).

And for re-evaluating, I constantly watch my every move and re-think every word I say. I always think I am the enemy (which I may be to some people) in every situation I am in. My anxiety has made me an expert in reading people and their mannerisms to see the slightest change towards me. As a result, I think I am the cause and immediately jump to saying sorry, just to make sure I haven’t done anything. Its hard to constantly battle with your conscious and constantly make you re-evaluate if people really like you or if they talk about how they can’t stand you when you leave the room. I wouldn’t wish those thoughts on anyone.

Thats the biggest thing. I always used to say to my mum “I wish I was normal” or “I wish I was like everyone else” because I don’t feel like a ‘normal’ teenager (whatever that means). I feel abnormal because I think the way I do or act the way I do and all I do to explain that to the people close to me is I apologise. I always say sorry when I probably don’t need to, just to remind them that I wish my brain didn’t work this way either and I know it is inconvenient or annoying but I cant change it, as much as I wish I could.

I hope this post wasn’t too dark or sad for anyone, I hope it helped and I hope it made you feel that you are a bit more ‘normal’ (whatever that means).

A little bit about me.

Hi. My name is Fay and I’m 19 years old. I have recently just started my second year of uni. I have been looking to start a blog for over a year now but never felt that I had anything worth saying that hadn’t already been said. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that what I feel and experience everyday is completely different to what people with the same mental health issues experience in their everyday. I suffer with severe anxiety, which impacts every single aspect of my life. I have learnt that people with anxiety are very good at wearing a mask, which is a very sad thought to have, but it is true. I will talk more about this is more of my posts, but I feel that having an outlet like this will help me but might also help other people who feel isolated because of their mental health. So, I hope you enjoy (again, is very weird to say about a serious topic ahah)!

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