I am sure we have all heard the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side” and I am sure that despite how true we know this to be it hasn’t always stopped us wanting to be on the other side with the apparently greener grass!
When you have depression, anxiety or are just generally feeling a bit down it’s even harder to appreciate the greeness of your own grass and even harder to not compare it to the greeness of someone elses grass (okay enough with the grass now but hopefully you get the gist).
Before the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest we could go home at the end of a bad day, shut the door and escape for a bit. Now we go home, shut the door and go online to catch up with social media and this to me was where the problem started.
When I was in the worst grips of depression I would trawl my newsfeed with the posts about the perfect lives of friends that I felt I didn’t have, perfect parents when I felt I was a complete failure as a mother, photos of children playing happilly when mine were ripping each other to shreds, amazing holidays that I felt through my failures I was denying my girls, fantastic social lives when at my loneliest I felt the highlight of mine was niceties I exchanged with the cashier at the supermarket checkout, people with fulfilling careers when I was on benefits and felt hopeless, flawless selfies where a friend is just so naturally beautiful and all I saw in the mirror was a fat greasy haired blob with suitcases under my eyes that looked so tired and old, beautiful homes that look like they belong in an interiors magazine as opposed to my own house which felt would take a year to discover floor in.
I am not a horrible person and it is lovely to see my friends happy and I dont want any of them to be sad or struggle like I did but it also exaggerated my feelings of failure. Depression is an absolute bitch and it eradicated any rationality I had. It never occured to me that these were just snapshots of other people’s lives not the whole picture … and human nature means that as a general rule we only really share the good bits but depression made me forget this.
I too am guilty of only sharing the good bits when I was at my illest and in the worst grip of depression to read my social media feeds you would think I had an amazing life and was blissfully happy. I put so much effort into portraying this happy and contented front because I thought I needed to. I didnt want anyone to know how low I had got. I was ashamed at not having this “perfect life” I felt under so much pressure to have so I had to pretend. I had to fake perfection (sounds crazy writing it now but as I said depression is a bitch and makes you lose any sense of reason).
My newsfeed was rife (still is) with companies bombarding me with images of “perfection” telling me how to achieve this. They really play on the idea that we need to fit certain boxes to be perfect and have this ideal life. At every avenue we are sold this ideal and made to feel the only way to be happy is to achieve this. For many of us when we are feeling down it only amplifies our feelings of despair.
I am in a much better place now thankfully but part of getting to that better place has been learning to see through the smokescreen of perfection that dominates much of the online world. I now refuse to share only the good bits of life online or to make it out to be better than it actually is … I share it warts and all. I embrace my disfunctional life … enjoy the good times and try to laugh publicly at the bad. I make a point of writing about my bad days and my good days because I want to remember all of my life the ups and the downs (without the downs I wouldnt appreciate the ups) but also I want to be a little bit of reality in this “perfect” social media world because you never know who might be reading who needs to see someone else having a bad day to understand what they are going through is normal and it doesn’t make them a failure or inadequate – Its just real life. When you are struggling those little glimpses of reality can really make the difference and give a little bit of perspective in a world that is so focused on living the dream.
This photo taken from a walk with the girls today sums it up for me … its a beautiful photo of my middle daughter and in the moment this photo was taken she was happy but look closely and you will see remnants of earlier tears from a row with her sister. To me this sums up life … our walk wasnt perfect but there were happy moments and sad moments …. it was real, it was life.