How to tell if you need a social media cleanse

It’s a digital high. We live in an extremely hyper-connected world and it is doing serious damage to people’s mental health. A lot of people don’t even realise how much they rely on the positive praise, the ‘likes’, the constant desire for new followers and insta fame is ruining people.

This blog is a bit ironic for me considering I can relate to SO much of the below but social media is my job (no, I am not an influencer – I manage Social Media for a large government organization) so I do think I am online a little more than usual. In my defence, it’s not all personal and I’ve made huge changes in the way I use my own social media.

If you can relate to any of the below then maybe, it’s time for a social media detox.

  1. You think in Facebook posts – I am 100% guilty of this. I do it all the time for work and I am generally pretty good at guessing what the theme of the commentary is going to be like. Something happens, you manage to capture it and you already know it’s going to be a banger on social. I mean hey, we’ve all been there – that’s exactly why I am writing this.
  2. You don’t have out with your friends offline – Sadly, guilty of this also. Because many of us over-share, we already know what our friends have been up too. While it is pretty damn cool, it can also be super damaging to real-life relationships. You know what I am talking about, that person your friends on Facebook with but didn’t actually say hi to in real life? Yeah, that.
  3. You’re stressed out – I mean c’mon, who isn’t? Social media ISN’T helping. Create positive habits to stop you from reaching for your device.
  4. You complain you don’t have time to do things – if you put down the phone down a bit more you’d be amazed at this newfound gap in your schedule. Do something useful with your time like smashing some fitness goals, meet up with your friends or actually be present in the moment with your family.
  5. You think you need social media to be happy – you were happy before social media existed, so you’d be fine without it.
  6. You think too much about what others think – I know that some of this is actually my anxiety, but it certainly isn’t helped by social media. We are quick to crowdsource ideas before thinking for ourselves. Social media can be instantly gratifying. Post that selfie and watch the likes roll in. Do you actually feel better though? Is it even real?

I was like tick, tick, tick to all of the above. Sad right? It is currently the way the world is.

Don’t get me wrong, social media isn’t all negative. It’s been my career for over 10 years so I do believe I am in a good position to comment on the negative effects. I have been there. I have been so consumed by likes that I failed to see what was going on around me. I needed the validation from people – it made me feel good. But only for a moment. I blog, I over-share but over the past 12 months, I have really limited the time I spend because I need to, for my mental health.

There is plenty of research out there that can associate social media with things like anxiety and depression, obviously, the results are only a correlation – meaning relationships exist between usage and health issues, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the social media and technology cause it.

I have deactivated my pages so many times over the last few years, something I have vowed not to do in 2020.  If I can’t just not open an app then I have an actual problem. It is an addition. The key here is limiting your usage.

In a world where we are doing it for the gram, food porn is an actual thing and adding dog ears to your selfie is totally normal now we need to make some healthy boundaries before it completely takes over our lives.

There are many good health benefits to picking up the phone less like:

  • Better sleep – I am SO bad for this. Mindlessly scrolling a newsfeed instead of trying to sleep. I have suffered from insomnia a large portion of my life and my phone is definitely not helping.
  • Healthier relationships – You will actually interact with people in person and have genuine feel-good moments. Do you lay next to your partner in bed or sit on the couch both on your phones? Yeah, there is something wrong with the fact we can’t just enjoy people’s company anymore.
  • You can’t have FOMO for something you have never seen.

Keep in mind, all of this stuff is just potential benefits. I am not saying social media is so bad for you and that you need to stop immediately – it pays my bills and I have no intentions to sacrifice my social profiles.

If you’re happy with your level of usage, then you do you boo. If you don’t then you may want to think about making some changes.

Finding my way

My mental health has not been good as of late. I am just going to come right out and say it right now. To be honest, I feel like I say this a lot but the last few weeks has been a real eye opener for me.

I have realised the importance of self-care and I am now on a journey to make changes in my life that will directly impact my mental health and I would love for you to come on the journey with me.

One of the biggest things I have noticed is how a lot of people relate their anxiety back to clutter, whether it be in their daily lifestyle or in their mind. If you’re a parent then I don’t need to remind you that more toys = more crap to pick up. I am not sure I could live a ‘minimalist’ lifestyle but I definitely need to stop buying shit and am so guilty of keeping things unintentionally like old make up, clothes, shoes etc. So, I am on a mission. To de-clutter my life and my mind. I’ve been doing a tonne of research and can’t wait to start sharing it all.

I have poor routine and poor sleep, all of which directly affects my mental health. I use things like social media which link back to depression – social media, media in general and online bullies. I plan to tie in regular periods of ‘offline’ time to be more present with my family and friends while also striking a balance because my full-time job revolves around social media and of course, its where this amazing community of people are.

I am not putting a time frame on this but I am getting cracking start away. I am already putting small things in place and am noticing a change so it gives me hope that I can do this.

How can minimalism help a mama out? From reading many different articles, it seems many mothers are turning to minimalism to reduce their stress and anxiety.

Minimalism is the processing of simplifying yourself so that you can stop spending your time, energy and emotions on non-essential parts of your life.

Sounds easy right? It’s not. It’s a process, but one I believe will work.

Comment below if you’re keen to come along for the ride to reinventing yourself.

A sad reality

I realized something tonight. Something that made me a little sad to admit.

I don’t really have many friends.

I was always the outsider, going against the grain. Bailing on events and occasions because I had been consumed by anxiety.

I lived on my own for over 5 years after an incredibly messy breakup – something I seem to blame a lot for.

I couldn’t disappoint anybody, and everything was on me. I only had myself to worry about.

I’m 32 years old and can safely say I have less than 5 people I could call on and they’d be there. While I know numbers don’t matter, I can’t help but feel sad. We live in this online world where everything is on show.

People have come and gone over the years, was this because of me? Did our lives just grow in different directions? Did they get what they needed from our friendship?

I get sad when I scroll my feed and see all the big groups of friends who have been together through it all. They got pregnant together, they plan their weddings together, their children grow up together – they even travel together. The constant feed that is social media is playing with my mind, telling me there is something wrong with me because I don’t have this.

I never went to a school formal, I got early exemption from the ministry of education to leave school when I was 15 and I’ve worked full-time ever since.

It probably makes me sound like a huge loser, and maybe I am? On reflection, it could seem petty – like is this all I am worried about? Do I not think my current friends are good enough? Not the case at all. I love the insanely small circle I have but can’t help but wonder if maybe I’ve pushed others away? There are people I once considered really good friends who have never even met my children yet continue to engage online like we’re still the best of friends.

Have I been so focused on my career that I’ve never bothered to really value a friendship in order for it to last? Am I a bad friend?

Has working in the online space for so long made me not able to function properly in real-world situations which has then hindered my ability to form normal relationships?

Has motherhood made me more lonely than ever before?

Please tell me I am not the only one that constantly feels like a loner.

The tough talk

With the recent sad news of Greg Boyed’s passing I feel compelled to reach out.

Today, the chief coroner released The Mental Health Foundation’s provisional suicide statistics for the year July 2017-June 2018. Devastatingly, New Zealand’s suicide rate has increased to the highest it has been this century.

Since the sad news I’ve seen so many Facebook posts from people offering a listening ear or a caring shoulder for those in need. While I love seeing this type of support, from complete strangers, I can’t help but feel a little sad that it takes an event like this for people to offer support. While news like this always reminds us to reach out, I wish people knew all year round that our doors are open and our jugs are boiling ready for a cup of tea and a chat. Sometimes you don’t even want to talk, you just want to be in somebody’s company.

To see a public figure, someone who is seen as successful, somebody who ‘has it all’ clearly proves that material objects are exactly that – material objects. Money, fame and processions do not make a person happy.

It is such a taboo topic. One which people are afraid to talk about out of fear of judgment. It truly breaks my heart. There are so many people out there suffering in silence because depression and anxiety has somehow been dubbed something that ‘we don’t talk about’. Why? It’s far more common than we realize and if we were to talk about it more then I feel those struggling would feel far more supported. So many people are scared to open up and talk to somebody about how they truly feel and have that ‘I don’t need/want to be on medication’ mentality.

You know, it’s normally the ones who are the most ‘out there’ who suffer in silence? They put up this front to make themselves feel better, so people don’t ask ‘are you okay?’. This probably isn’t the case for all but I know it rings true for me. I know if somebody asked me that right now it’s highly likely I would burst into tears because no, I am not OK. And it is OK to say that.

Some days I feel great, other days that dark black cloud hovers over my head. Those who have ever experienced or struggled with mental illness simply don’t understand and adopt the attitude ‘cheer up’, ‘it’s not that bad’ & ‘tomorrow is a new day’. While there are positive coping mechanisms that have been known to work or at least assist. Somebody telling you to ‘snap out of it’ certainly isn’t one.

I’ve struggled with mental health issues for a large majority of my life so one of my biggest concerns when I became pregnant was the high risk of PND. My GP and midwife were well aware of my medical history so knew what to look out for as well as educating me.

For a while there I thought I was fine, that I had somehow managed to side-track the issues that for a long time consumed me. I hadn’t. Two weeks passed after Baxter’s birth and my partner was due back at work, it hit me like a freight train. Feelings of anxiety and worry flooded me.

It took me a while to gain the courage to admit I knew what was going on and go and speak to my GP, deep down I knew the day would come, she was super supportive and we talked through our options.

I started to get control back, things became manageable. But I feel myself slipping again. I knew that it was highly likely I would experience PND again with Lily. Did it ever really go away? How long does it last and when does PND become depression?

These days my PND/Depression/Anxiety masks itself in anger, a symptom many are not aware of. Sadly it hinders my relationships with people from time to time and if I am being totally open, my partner takes the brunt of it. People who haven’t experienced it or been close to somebody who has simply don’t understand and often respond with “just stop” or “stop getting so mad”. I would love to be that in control of my feelings but right now, I am not. Half of the time my reactions are so unreasonable but I simply don’t see it at the time. God, I thought I had no patience when I was pregnant but this is next level.

I know that these current feelings are not me, and while I know they’re not permanent, it’s hard to deal with right now.

If you’ve never struggled with mental health you may not understand where I’m coming from, you may not understand that you can have one really shitty day within a month of amazing days and all these old shitty memories/feelings flood back.

I am not going to sit here and feel sorry for myself, nor do I want you to feel sorry for me. I just wanted to share that it’s not all gummy smiles and rainbows. If you’re having a shitty day, it’s okay, you’re not alone.

Social media has heightened the awareness of what’s around us, obviously – and I believe it plays a big part in some of the negative feelings people experience. We see those beautiful curated squares on Instagram and find ourselves comparing how their life is different to ours, how are they looking so beautiful and refreshed after I barely got 2 hours uninterrupted sleep last night? How on earth do they manage to find time to keep their house so perfectly clean and organized? How did their body snap back so quickly after giving birth. It’s everywhere. What we often don’t think about is that these people are not necessarily happy. We only see what they choose to share, many do not share the messy corner of their house or how little they slept last night.

More often than not, we are our own worst enemies.

The dark truth is that if we don’t start talking about mental health now and more openly, the alarming rate of suicide and the prevalence of untreated mental illness will reach crisis point – in fact, I believe it already has.

Please, if you’re ever struggling, with anything or having bad thoughts – talk to somebody. You can talk to me, PM me day or night or call one of the numbers below. It is often easier to confide in a stranger.

It’s so much more common than you realise and we can all play a small part in trying to normalise it in some small way by talking about it openly. There is nothing wrong with feeling this way, but there is a way out.

Please know that no matter how bad things feel, there is always help available. Taking your life is NOT the answer and please take a moment to think about all of those loved ones you would leave behind.

Talking about things is the first step. Realising it’s okay to not be okay if the next.

You are amazing and you hold a special place in this world.

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https://depression.org.nz | call 0800 111 757 or text 4202

www.mentalhealth.org.nz | text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 522 2999

Youthline – 0800 376 633

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/

Life with two

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with the whole parenting thing. I mean come on, who hasn’t? I think we all do at some stage or another – some are honest about it, some aren’t. I get comments all the time said to me or sly digs about those people who ‘share to much on social media’, who ‘have to tell the world about everything’.  Well, over-sharer? Quite possibly. But I definitely don’t tell the world everything. There is a lot you don’t know about me and probably won’t ever know.

I’ve been extremely slack on the blog front, life happened, kids happened, work happened. I’ve just been busy in general. For a while there I got so consumed in the online world, I let shit comments get to me and cloud my judgement. I wanted to stop doing what I was doing, all for the wrong reasons.

Well, life is still happening and I am still shit at making time for me as much as I try preach about how important it is. It’s a work in progress okay. BUT, I need to get back to writing, it helps me release and I get messages daily saying it helps you to so win win right?

I’ve been a mum of 2 for over a year now – what the actual fluff (see Mum, I can do it without saying the F word). If anybody knows where the past 12 months have gone then please holla atcha girl and let mew know cos I’m sitting here in disbelief that we’ve already celebrated Lily’s 1st birthday. I was so freaked out when I found out I was pregnant (yes, pregnant on my first child’s 1st birthday – am I mad?). I had huge fears about how things would pan out and how I would cope. I struggled with one so how on earth was I going to manage with 2? Well, I did. We got through and here we are, a year in and I am by no means going to say it was easy – it most certainly wasn’t. But I’m alive, and so are both the kids (and Reuben – just).

People often ask me what life is like with two kids. I don’t have a straightforward answer. It’s hectic, with one you can get away with distracting them and getting other stuff done, with two – you distract one and then the other goes in to pick a fight. So basically, there is a never a dull moment – for me anyway. Like everything in life, you find a way to get through, to manage – to get by. I can pop Lily in the highchair, give Baxter some toys and still get housework done. We chose to have the kids in quick succession which meant a small period of madness. Lily is 1 now and I think we are out of the really tough stage (for now), they’re getting along reasonably well (70%) of the time but don’t get me wrong – I know we’ve got some real shit times ahead of us. It’s all part of this parenting gig.

Looking at these kids when they’re playing nicely just makes it all worth it, all those shitty times are just forgotten about. I say to Baxter do you love Lily and he says “yes Mummy”. I die inside. He pats her head and gives her kisses. They’re really starting to engage with each other and get each other. He knows how to wind her up and she definitely knows how to wind him up.

Baxter is a mini Reuben and Lily is a mini me. It’s scary but its Karma at its finest, haha. I see us in them and it scares the shit out of me.

I am glad we chose to have the kids close together (18m gap). The stages are familiar with us and we haven’t forgotten about the tough times. Our theory was, ‘do it quickly and get those initial shitty times out of the way’ – they’re gone, behind us and gosh it feels good. The first 12 weeks is still hell but a different kind of hell because we remembered what it was like as we’d not long done it. We clearly remembered what tactics worked with Baxter and tried them on Lily.

The kids are actually different, Baxter was SO chill, almost too chill. Lily is so full on – all the time. Is really rough with Baxter (the me in her, haha). She climbs, jumps and squeals and the kid has no fear – none of which we experienced with Baxter. He has totally had to up his game now she is walking and trying to rule the roost.

Baxter is now in Kindy 3 days per week and is thriving, best thing we did for him (and lets be realistic, for us too). Reuben is a stay at home Dad still so having B in Kindy 3 days allows him some 1 on 1 time with Lily which he really enjoys.

The wolfpack is complete with no additions in the foreseeable future. I am content with the kids. I am still working on myself and managing my anxiety + depression but to be honest, I don’t think it will ever be gone. It’s part of me, its who I am and some days are shit, other days I am on top of the world.

Here’s to another year…