Social media can be so fake sometimes. Many people I know struggle with their mental health and face difficulties every day, but we rarely see any of those difficulties on social media. We only see the good bits. The smiley photos and happy memories. The parties, weddings, holidays and perfect relationships that we want the world to think our lives revolve around. But in a world where we can only share the good bits, what happens to the people who aren’t ‘living their best lives’?
I have lived with mental illness and the impact of trauma since I was 12 years old. But a few years ago I’d managed to build myself up enough to the point where I could work as a youth worker. Then I managed to go to university, start a new job and have a relationship too. I thought I’d finally got to the point where I could actually live my life. But you can’t run away from trauma. You can’t just decide to get rid of it or move on. It doesn’t work like that unfortunately. You can’t stop the flashbacks, nightmares, exhaustion, physical pain, depression, anxiety and the emptiness of trying to live your life but never feeling connected to anything or anyone. So when it catches up with you, you have to stop.
I had no other choice than to give up everything and focus on nothing else except my health. If I didn’t make that choice, I wouldn’t still be here. And I still have to make that choice every single day. I wake up and have to decide I want to be here, that I want to get better, that I want to look after myself. I have to choose to care about myself and put my health first. That is what my life consists of right now. Learning to eat properly, sleep properly, exercise, interact with people, try to lift my mood up when I’m feeling low, comfort myself, calming myself when I’m feeling anxious, giving myself time to feel how I’m feeling instead of avoiding things, go to therapy every week to learn how to do all of this and to begin to process the trauma. Doing all of this is the most difficult things I have ever learned to do. It is a lot easier to try and avoid everything, to self destruct, to stick to familiar ways of coping, to not care about myself or anything else and to never fully make the commitment to be here.
And yet, none of this is social media worthy is it? I am making the most life changing decisions I have ever made to fully be able to live my life and connect with myself, other people and the world. But it is not something I should post all over Facebook is it? It is not even something we talk about. We ask about holidays, work, uni, relationships. But do we ever ask how someone is feeling, how they are managing their lives day to day, if their therapy is going okay and if they have people around them who care. If someone’s biggest achievements were not travelling, climbing a mountain, passing an exam, getting a new job or anything else exciting enough to be deemed social media worthy, do we still care enough to ask about it?
I am writing this post to show that we don’t all have society’s idea of social media worthy lives. We aren’t all ‘living our best lives’. Some of us are just trying to live. But that in itself is a huge thing. A difficult thing. Something that should be celebrated and appreciated. Something we should care about enough to ask about. I didn’t pass any exams this year, go on any holidays, go travelling, climb any mountains, go to any parties or weddings. But i did get up every day, go to therapy every week, start running, learn to care about myself and decide I want to be here. I survived and if you did too I am proud of you!