I’ve been feeling pretty insecure. My confidence was shaken earlier this year but I’ve been taking lots of time to reflect. I assessed the roots of my insecurity and the growing distrust I was having. I’ve concluded that I’ve been too distracted by outside influences and have been allowing these to add to my internal pressures. I’m certain I’m not alone as someone with a chronic illness on this and would be interested to hear others views.
Being unable to work & spending lots of time on social media; to break up the isolation, I all too often find myself comparing myself to ‘healthy’ parents or those with successful careers. I get sucked into the filtered perceptions of how others portray their lives. This then leads to a pressure to function more than possible and I push myself to succeed at my own detriment. I often feel like life is a race or survival of the fittest and I’m doomed to fail. My illness has left me falling behind and feeling a failure. Others appearing to be winning the race, has caused my depression to resurface.
I see those that have careers or Mothers that literally do everything with their children and wrongly pressure myself to be the same. This is unrealistic in my situation and does nothing for my mental state or feelings towards those having a ‘seemingly’ rosey life. I partly blame how some use social media, for this issue.
I often feel like other Mums juggle being perfectly groomed, going to work, to the gym, socialising, taking their kids to every after school club and EVEN managing date nights & a sex life, and to me they appear like superwomen.
I have honestly envied them. I’ve even felt anger towards them. I know this is not healthy. The way we contribute on social media has a big impact on how we view each other and I’ve realised this is the root of my problem. I need to stop believing everything I read 😉.
I’ve been guilty of this crime on occasions. Posting my best days, my parenting successes but not to look perfect to outsiders, to make myself believe my 5 seconds of an altered reality. A snap shot of a perfect life. I want to feel like I’m a superwoman and great Mother but why? Why do we feel the need to show altered truths on social media? Here’s snapchat aiding my altered reality.
Those who post snippets of their seemingly ‘perfect’ lives, seriously aren’t showing reality. Why is there no balance? Why don’t we try to dispel these ridiculous illusions by scrolling by, or deleting those that make us feel inadequate? Why don’t we call out those we know, when they hide behind this facade? Or even remove ourselves from the addictive social media realm completely? Why…because we are nosey creatures by nature and one word…FOMO. (To those who use actual words 😜 – Fear of missing out). I must add I understand when private, unhappy issues are not divulged. Some things are not for social media. I’m solely talking about fake lives.
When you are chronically ill, social media is often the only way to feel connected to others, whether this be by communicating with friends and family or in support groups. If we are stuck indoors suffering, resting or recovering, we are lured by social media to stay up-to-date with these networks. Sadly whilst doing this we are exposed and vulnerable to seeing many skewed realities that can make us feel inadequate.
Now don’t misunderstand me when I say this, I’m not saying people shouldn’t post achievements or happy aspects of their lives, we all like to share our ups but a realistic balance would be better…right? Let’s speak up and request that people be real. By doing so, anyone out there struggling, won’t feel like they are alone. Also by being honest on our personal pages, we maybe won’t always require the retreat to our private groups. Groups where we feel instant acceptance and where we are surrounded by others that are real. Where we don’t hide our pain of isolation or sickness & the hardships we experience with chronic illness.
Through blogging I try to show chronically sick individuals that they aren’t alone. I do this by being as transparent as I can be. I share my ups and downs, I share my very raw emotions in the hope someone can not only relate but comfort me on my journey too. Mutual understanding. This is something I feel is lacking with many on the personal pages of social media.
I’m definitely not saying I wish for negativity, we know there is far too much of that in the media right now and social media is a platform for many attention seeking types. This can also be mentally draining and bring us down. So balance is the key! Surely we can be realistic about family life and not compete for social status. It’s not the 1600s and nobody has the perfect life!
I follow a couple of amazing bloggers that share their lives so candidly and I adore them for this. Krystal of Bag Lady Mama shares her life as an ostomate but also as a Mother of two, often struggling to balance the norms of working, breastfeeding and being a woman. Ostomate Sam Cleasby also writes so openly and sometimes with helpful humour. She talks about her life with 3 children, her hubby, work & beloved allotment. I love that Sam shows so much love for her family but is clear that it’s no bed of roses coping with it all on top of a job and depression. She shares wicked images of her family, hobbies, outfits and nights out but recently had to do a follow-up post after receiving some unkind messages; explaining that this doesn’t mean life is perfect or that she parties hard every night. Partying doesn’t come without suffering (and I don’t mean just hangovers!) but the repercussions on a sick body.
Image from Constane Hall on Facebook
I don’t just follow chronically sick bloggers but have huge respect for women like Queen Constance Hall, who has a huge new combined family and is learning how to live together through life’s ups and downs. She shares beautiful professional pics but balances this with real images, that dispel the stigma of perfect body image. She challenges the media for contributing to female insecurities of feeling too fat or too thin. Plus highlighting that we don’t all put a face on at 8am for the school run! Her gorgeous breastfeeding pics and posts about her parenting fails/wins, make me love her more and more each day. She lifts people up by showing she’s not always up herself!
Now if everyone could be as honest & transparent on social media, maybe…just maybe we could believe they’re real & a human that puts up with sh*t, feels sh*t, fails at sh*t and sometimes looks like sh*t like everyone else. Maybe we wouldn’t pressurise ourselves to be perfect. Maybe we could enjoy social media as a form of communication.
I feel there’s a misconception that if we post only our happy moments or filter our life for others, that we offer a healthy view and show we are happy and successful. When in reality it makes others question our honesty and in turn prevents us from accepting our own reality. One day when life doesn’t seem so perfect, we may not know how to reach out for support. How can we keep up the image of a utopian bubble and expect help when things go t*ts up!
These post can’t have the affect of desiring others to be happy for us. Being false doesn’t fare well when developing or maintaining relationships. Your disguised ‘bragging’ may be the blow that tips a struggling friend over the edge. It’s far better to relate in life and it’s comforting to be able to say ‘hey me too’! We of course cannot be responsible for our happiness causing anothers unhappiness. We can only control our words and actions BUT we can be real, honest and pave the way for trust and sharing each others happiness. With truth we can rejoice in each others ups and support each others down. United by our trust, not divided by our deceit.
I make this vow that you may see me doled up when possible but equally you will see me looking like crap. I post pics of my good vs bad days to show that my conditions take their toll. Whilst comments like ‘I can’t see any difference’ or ‘you still look good’ are offered with kindness, they can feel dismissive of our conditions and even imply we are not believed. I spend much of my week in bed, in pjs and in pain…why portray it as anything else? I’m not just gonna show the pictures of me out with my kids when they’re being cute, I’ll show you when they don’t eat their veg & I’m losing my sh*t over it. I won’t just post the posh food I make once a month but the beans on toast or nuggets I threw on a plate.
Not only is it physically and financially impossible for me to cook beautiful, nutritious meals daily but I admit that I like beans on toast too!!! It’s also logistically impossible (I don’t drive) to take my kids out every weekend, visit every attraction in Summer or take my kids to out-of-school clubs. How does anyone have the time or energy to take their kids to numerous clubs a week?!
I kick myself when seeing other Mums dedicating their time to after school clubs. I figure I never went to swimming club and still learned how to swim, so my kids will survive right? I’ll be happy if they get through school without hating the conformist curriculum and grow to have their own minds and characters.
I know my kids are clever but I’m not gonna push them to get endless certificates, just to make me feel secure as a parent. I know taking part in some things can help them grow and have a sense of achievement. I see my Mummy friends able to attend things and fear my illness preventing this, will be of detriment to my children l’ll support anything they wish to do but they already spend 6+ hrs at school, are forced to do tests for the government’s statistics & are not allowed to develop their learning to suit their needs, so I figure that if I free them of pressures at home and follow their lead, it’ll all work out ok.
I do love seeing Mums sharing proud moments but would like to see their parenting failures too. Not to laugh…to relate. I’m struggling so much and just some sense of normality on social media would truly help me and I believe others too. The sales of ‘The Unmumsy Mum’ surely proves we are craving this confirmation as parents. Why does it feel like some families are living a fairytale, whilst I’m as calm as the Mum from Malcolm in the middle? 😂
I’m going to continue praising my children (and myself) for all the small achievements & remind them that it’s trying their best and not just winning that counts. They don’t have to follow the crowd and neither do I. So to perfect parenting and perfect morning hair, I stick a finger up at thee.
I do not believe that any parent goes without their bad days, I just request they share these as well as the good ones. I’ve spent months belittling MYSELF for not being like some social media Mums. I don’t want to be sucked in social media anymore; purely because I’m feeling vulnerable but I’d still like to still enjoy the positives that come from social media. I don’t want to leave my support groups, access to useful info, networking and the real people. It feels unfair that we have to protect ourselves from some on social media. I may seem ridiculous suggesting all of this but why should this perfect life bullsh*t be more acceptable than protecting people’s mental health, due to uncontrollable circumstances. Is being mindful of others not a thing now or are we just helpless to the uncontrollable narcissism that exists!
So in summary, I’ve realised that all I can do is EXIST and be real. This doesn’t mean my kids will suffer because they aren’t overachievers. They are fed, watered, clean, dressed, stable, loved and taught to be kind. I’m just about fed & watered most days but I definitely have a heap of love and kindness to see me through the rest. I am doing the best I can, it’s all any of us can do. Stop photoshopping life, keep the balance and accept life is beautiful just when we wing it and more so when we win at it.