Now that my birthday has passed and the madness has receded, I’ve decided I need to take a few measures to protect my mental health.
The main one that occurs to me is to turn down the social media noise in my life. A lot of my stresses come from carrying these false ideas about what other people’s lives look like, making me feel like a failure in comparison. This is a very common modern ailment I know, best defined as: comparing your reality to someone else’s showreel.
A lot of my unhappiness stems from feeling like I’m not living the life I should be, that I’m not rich enough, popular enough, not achieving enough, doing enough. That I am not enough. But just where do my ideas about “enough” stem from? Social media? advertising? work colleagues? Where do I get the impression that I’m missing out on something?
I know, realistically, I have a good life; a husband, kids, my own house, a few good friends, a job, nice neighbourhood. All the standard boxes are ticked. I am incredibly lucky. So why do I think I’m failing? Why am I not satisfied? Facebook, I’m looking at you! Being on Facebook is like inviting everyone you are vaguely connected to into your front room for the sole purpose of letting them brag about their lives. I tell myself I’m on Facebook to connect to people, but that isn’t connection.
I think Facebook and the like have given me some pretty inaccurate ideas about how other people. Like not every mum has the wide circle of mummy friends I imagine them to have, there are plenty (and I’m not even talking about autistic mums here) who just hang out with their families, or have a handful of friends and don’t have the urge to befriend every person they ever meet, there are others who are lonely and don’t have friends.
Likewise I don’t think most people are actually as popular as I presume everyone else is. I’m making myself feel like a failure by judging myself against an impossibly high standard, one I think only a few people ever actually achieve, and many more aren’t even remotely interested in achieving!
So how do I stop my brain getting filled up with these silly ideas? Because they do have a negative impact on my mental health, I wish I was joking!
Do I need to cut social media or even media out of my life? Would it then stop? Would I be happier off Facebook entirely? After feeling so low on my birthday initially I deleted Facebook from my phone, I was sick of seeing everyone else having a far better time on my birthday than I was. But then I realised it wasn’t that simple. I use Facebook for the groups – one for autistic mothers of autistic children for example, and for finding out what is going on locally. It helps me feel part of something, connects me to the community. So as a compromise I unfollowed all the people who inadvertently made me unhappy. Jealously is the destroyer or happiness and it’s not something I like about myself, but I do struggle with it, so anyone who is guilty of making me jealous had to go.
The worst thing is that I’m part of the problem. I don’t like to wash my dirty laundry in public so my posts tend to be when I’ve done something I enjoyed, look down my timeline and it only shows a small part of who I am and how my life is.
So I successfully deleted the app from my phone, but then I had a nice afternoons out and took some photos I felt proud of, and the itch to post them and share became too much. Facebook was restored to my phone by evening. I didn’t even last a day!
Remember the analogy about if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? I found myself pondering that if you have a good day out and don’t post the pictures on Facebook, did the day actually happen at all? (please note: this is incredibly tongue in cheek!) It’s not healthy is it?