I blame social media.
Before the advent of social media, I imagine you only compared yourself with the people in your class at school, someone who lived down the street from you, or the girl your cousin brought to a family BBQ. Now, with tap of a screen, I can compare myself to a model in Australia or be flooded with pictures of celebs in tiny outfits. And, let’s be real, when I say, “compare myself with,” I don’t mean favorably.
Another social media fail? Believing the Instagram world is reflective of the real world. Everyone falls into this trap. I’ve spent nights out with crying girls, only to wake up the next morning to their post of the one picture they took before shit hit the fan, with a caption about how wonderful life is, how amazing their night was and how #blessed they are for having such wonderful friends; the same friends who caused the crying about how awful their life is on the previously horrible night.
Additional dimension: Putting it all out there, real or otherwise makes us more vulnerable than ever.
The result: Physical attributes are praised, picked apart, criticized, and flaunted. Mental attributes: ignored.
So, here I am to tell you that I battle deep, long bouts of depression. I’ve seen multiple therapists and have taken many different types of anti-anxiety meds, anti-depressants, sleep aides and the like.
I have spent, do spend and will continue to spend countless hours working on my physical condition, but have admittedly fallen behind on the mental health part of my journey.
This blog’s tagline is Be Strong. Be Confident. Be Active. Well, being all of that has physical, emotional and mental components.
Why am I telling you– some friends, some family, some complete strangers– all of this?
I HATE the stigma that is attached to mental illness. Let’s be clear what is considered a mental illness. (check the list: http://psychcentral.com/disorders/) There are mood disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual disorders, sleep disorders and more. So many different disorders that so many people we know have fallen victim to are illnesses. Just like you’d treat your physical body when it falls ill, so should you treat your mental and emotional state.
It’s not weakness; it’s illness.
So, here are some tips I’ve found work for me. This does not mean they will all work for you. But that is what makes us all special and we must begin to respect that.
– Find a therapy that works for you, whether it is health coach, a counselor, a psychologist, whatever or whoever, find someone to talk to who can help.
– I won the family lottery. My parents are smart, intellectually and emotionally. My two older brothers offer great advise; most of which is, “Do as I say, not as I did.” I have a kickass sister-in-law. My family keeps me sane, because I just compare myself to them… Just kidding.
– Gotta give my mom a separate shout out. Yes, I have to preface our conversations by saying, “Hi, I need my mom,” or, “Hi, I need my therapist.” But, it works. She’s a smart and caring lady, and I am so lucky to have her as a mommy and her patients are lucky to have her as a therapist.
– I have wonderful, incredible, amazing humans I can cry to, yell at for no reason and really open up to. Some of them live clear across the country or back home in New York (thank goodness for FaceTime) and some of them live just minutes away, but they are my rocks, and I’m grateful for them everyday.
– I exercise. I like running. I like spinning. I like lifting weights. It rids me of stress and fills me with confidence. Never mind the fact that it allows you to eat way more! Perfect segue…
– I eat. I don’t mean comfort food like fries and such, though I for sure eat all that shit, I mean I eat things with natural benefits for your health. I eat whole, real foods, I eat FAT (yup you heard me, pass the butter), I eat veggies and fruits and CARBS and DESSERT… you get it, I eat. It makes me happy.
– I write. I write in a journal almost nightly. Writing your shit down is seriously freeing.
Also, this journal lives next to my bed, and I’m now hiding it cause I have nosey friends— whom I love very much.
– I turn off my phone. (I hear your gasps.) When I am feeling sad, nothing makes it worse than social media. Seeing everyone’s perfect insta-lives is just not what I need. So I don’t look.
– I trim the fat. If it’s not making me happy, I get rid of it. I just laughed at myself. I’m a 24-year-old girl. What I just typed obviously doesn’t apply to boys. Though, I consider myself a pretty strong woman, and I get better with trimming ALL types of fat everyday.
A good way to do this is to ask yourself whom you are doing something for. If the answer isn’t for yourself, well, you better be doing it for someone you love very much, cause there is no other excuse.
Another good question: does this make me happy? Is the answer no? Kind of? Sometimes? Drop it.
Also, FOMO is not real. Seriously, if going out every weekend doesn’t make you happy, stop doing it. You’ll live.
I am NOT the expert on mental or emotional health, but I am the expert on me, as you are the expert on yourself. So, I hope you can take some of these tips and figure out what works for you!
I use these everyday to try to be the happiest version of myself. I do it for me and so I can give my best self to the people I love. They deserve that. And so do I.
Physical health is so, so, so important. Mental health is equally as important and rarely spoken about. Break the silence and lose the stigma. Not only could it change lives, it could save them.
A few articles/pieces worth the read:
Split Image: The tragic story of Madison Holleran: http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/12833146/instagram-account-university-pennsylvania-runner-showed-only-part-story
This post from Elite Daily about ignoring our Mental Health: http://elitedaily.com/life/outer-health-inner-health/1207863/