Every morning I set an alarm at 5:30am and wake up without even hitting snooze.
Well, if I’m being honest, I hit the snooze button but then challenge myself to be up and out of bed, finish the bathroom stuff, and then in the kitchen before the snooze alarm goes off.
In the kitchen, I make my morning tea while also drinking a cup or two of water.
This is when I officially do my waking up. I don’t look at my phone, and I attempt to think about what I will write about.
I’ve been good about writing future blog post ideas in my planner, so I have a list that I can choose from, but I would rather write about what strikes me today.
My blog is about feelings and moods, so if I’m not in the mood to write about a topic, I simply can’t.
Sometimes it takes me a while for inspiration to come, so as I’m sitting with my tea in front of my computer, I check emails and Facebook.
This is a terrible habit and I don’t recommend it. I could easily get sucked right in and the next thing you know, it’s 7:00am and my children are waking, and I have to get ready for work.
I watch the time like a hawk, and abort all social media and anything that requires Internet within five minutes.
I open up a blank Word document and begin to type, hoping by that time an idea has come.
It’s not easy.
When I’m suffering from a low, I force myself out of bed to follow my daily routine, but by the time I sit at the computer, I have no desire to write anything.
Sure there are ideas, but the desire is gone.
Social media makes it worse. Everyone posting about their happiness or the things that make them laugh, and it triggers no response from me.
Social Media is Bad for Mental Health
In fact, it can make it worse sometimes. Comparing my life to literally anyone else…
Comparison is ugly.
Let me tell you a story about my cousin, Theresa, who I mentioned in my last post.
She is my cousin, but she was married into the family when we were just kids – so I’d like to say I’ve known her all my life, but there was a period of about 8-10 years when I didn’t.
*My math is probably wrong and I don’t feel like calling my aunt to find out when she got married – so no fact-checking here please.
The fact is we were kids when we met and we’ve been family ever since.
Theresa and her sister have both been like sisters to me and I’m happy to have them both in my life.
But seeing updates on Facebook can be damaging, especially when I’m already depressed.
Theresa is perfect. She’s smart, beautiful, healthy, lives a wonderful life with her husband, two daughters, and an amazing dog.
She runs her own businesses while also being a stay-at-home mom. Not just any stay-at-home mom either, she is involved.
You’d think by running businesses that her role as a parent might suffer, maybe just a little? Nope.
She’s got two sweet little daughters; one is two years old, one is two months old – and I will mention these girls more in a future post, this one is dedicated to Theresa and how fantastic she is.
Even though she’s running businesses, she’s a mom first.
She bakes with her girls, takes them to the library, the park, the mall, out for walks in the cold winters. She makes beautiful art with them.
Seriously, Theresa is perfect.
So while I’m perusing around Facebook, I’m just reminded of this.
Life Through a Moment of Highlights
I don’t think of all the nice things I have and how good my life is, and how amazing my husband, children, and dogs are.
All I think is that she’s got her life together and I don’t.
Now I’ve known Theresa nearly 30 years and we’ve both been through lots in that time, good and bad.
It has been tough, and it certainly hasn’t always been perfect. She works hard for what she has and deserves the best.
But I’ve also worked hard, so why isn’t my life roses?
This is where comparison gets ugly.
First I talk about how great she is, then I talk about how opposite I am.
Yes, Theresa is great. But I also know that she only posts the highlights.
It occurred to me that I also only watch sports highlights.
I’ll never sit down and watch a full game, but I don’t mind seeing the top five best goals of the season.
It would be a very poor assumption to think that that the entire season could be summed up in those five goals.
Why do I assume that Theresa, or anyone else on Facebook, can be summed up by the things they post?
It’s not easy to get out of my head, but I have to try.
If you’re feeling down on yourself because you’re constantly reminded of what everyone else has, shut off the computer and take a few minutes to yourself.
Remind yourself what you have: big and small. List them and feel grateful.
List the things you normally take for granted: shelter, food, running water, medicine, etc.
After I finish mentally writing these lists, I then go back to the people I was comparing myself to.
I do not try to bring them down. It doesn’t do anyone good to say, “well, she can’t be that perfect, here’s why.”
Don’t Feed Negativity Through Comparison
If I’m trying to bring myself to a positive mood, why would I start listing negative things about anyone?
What is the point of spending all that time trying to lift myself up, only to start thinking poorly of others? That doesn’t help.
If after listing all the things that you have, and all the things that make you happy and fortunate, you find yourself in a good mood.
Stay there. You don’t have to think about anything else.
I like to go one step further, because it’s a good reminder for me. All those perfect people I was comparing myself to a moment ago, I know them.
Maybe I only know them through Facebook, but there’s a connection there regardless.
All of those highlights I saw on social media, the ones that maybe didn’t strike any feelings at first because I’m depressed, or the ones that made me depressed because I felt the need to compare myself… all of those highlights are from people who I can reach out to.
It doesn’t need to be meaningful or anything you think of value. “I liked your post.” “That made me smile.” “Show me how you did that craft.”
Once you reach out to the person, you minimize that idolization. You can still admire them, but now you made them human.
Theresa is perfect. She’d probably argue that she isn’t, but I think she is.
Instead of feeling like my life is awful by comparison, I feel like I’m lucky to have her in my life.
I can reach out to her whenever I like, and she’s always there for me.
Who knows? Maybe I’m somebody else’s idea of perfect. Probably not and that’s ok.
I still feel grateful to have the things that I have, and to be there for people who might need me too.