Why I am taking a break from social media

Today I deleted the Instagram and Facebook apps from my devices. Why? Because I need a break and a chance to see clearly without the filters. I have already written about how I live a life with an Instagram filter but only in the last few days did I realise how much I am actually influenced by social media and how anxious and depressed it can make me.

Over the last week, I have suffered through some pretty horrible nights. I have found myself unable to sleep and my brain has been working overtime. I have wound myself up to a point where I found it difficult to breathe or just to exist. As a result I haven’t been feeling great all around. I’m scared of going to bed because I don’t know whether I am able to sleep tonight or have to go through the ordeals again.

What has helped me a bit over these last few days has been shutting off my phone and making an effort not to check it after going to bed. It might seems such an obvious thing but it has given me a few extra hours each night. I realised that one of the things that I kept checking was whether someone was “communicating” with me. I was checking for acknowledgment from others in the form of likes and comments on my photos on Instagram and Facebook. I kept trying to figure out what to post to make my life seem more interesting and to collect more likes.

I realise that this a dangerous road to go down. There are never enough likes to fill the void I thought I was feeling. I have been feeling very alone and vulnerable recently, like I am isolated from people around me. I thought that Instagram and Facebook would help me connect with people, but in fact, they made me feel worse. I know that most people tap twice on a post on Instagram just out of a habit without giving it much attention. Tap-tap, scroll, tap-tap, scroll… I do that, so why do I expect anyone else to concentrate any more. So in the end, those likes that I was so desperately expecting didn’t really fill my desire to be noticed, to be acknowledged, to be comforted in feeling alone and scared.

And when you are feeling alone and scared, other people’s carefully constructed and edited lives don’t make you feel any better either. I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to what other people post on social media, but it’s difficult not to when you are feeling down. I felt like I am not pretty enough, interesting enough, happy enough. I felt like I am not enough. So although I was scrolling through the feed in search for escape, it was getting even more locked up in my negative thoughts.

I didn’t delete my accounts and I have every intention to returning to them but I just need a week or two, or even just a few days of staying away. A few days where I don’t have to compare myself to what I could be. A few days when I don’t have to think about creating an image. I need a few days where I can feel my feelings and learn to not to mask them with filters. I need to learn not to look for acknowledgement somewhere where it’s not actually given.

Is it going to be difficult? I have no doubt it will be incredibly difficult. I have no problem admitting a certain addiction to social media. It will so tempting to scroll through Instagram posts first thing in the morning and refreshing Facebook feed as a break at work. It will take a while not to think about my day in terms of what interesting I could post on Instagram. It will feel even more lonely. But I hope it will hurt a little less, I hope I can sleep again with a bit more peace of mind knowing that I have chosen to miss it all. I hope I can at least for a minute stop comparing my life with others and feeling like a complete failure.

A stranger

I had a little bit of a rough ride emotionally in 2017. Looking at the big picture and everything that has gone on, I haven’t really had a bad year. Although this season was much more stressful at work, it also taught me a lot of things and somewhere deep inside of me is now a tiny corner of confidence named “Maybe I’m not completely shit at this”.

However, I’ve had a difficult year in controlling my thoughts and my emotions. Although there have been plenty of wonderful moments, there have also been some very, very dark days and nights. I promised myself at the beginning of last year that I will name my demons and thus be rid of them. The reality hasn’t been quite this simple. I have named a few of them but that hasn’t really helped me feel better. Instead, some days I feel even more desperate because although I know these demons, but I don’t know how to vanquish them.

Between all of that, the joy of being alive has slipped away from me a bit. I thought about it first a few months ago. This summer, my Employer took me along paddle boarding on Ullswater a few times and ever since then he has urged me to buy a board. I was (and still am) reluctant to rush into it as it’s expensive kit and I’m not sure how much I would use it. To that my Employer said, “Don’t think about it like that. I would think about it what brings you enjoyment in life.” Even then, I wasn’t sure how to answer that as I was struggling with enjoying life.

A few weeks ago, I had another bad day of feeling sorry for myself and my life and I realised again that it’s been a while since I have really felt joy. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and found pictures from my first summer in Cumbria. What stabbed me most deeply was that I didn’t recognise myself on the pictures. There were photos of the walks I had taken; of the night I spent wild camping at Grisedale Tarn and of walking back to Shap the next day. Who was that girl? She was clearly enjoying life, full of joy and feeling alive. She didn’t care for the mud and sweat. She knew how to switch off her brain. I cannot believe she’s me.

This year, I have struggled to get out of bed and out of house. I have hardly been to the hills. It would be easy to blame it on work but I was working on the same job last summer and was just as busy. In fact, this summer I actually had nights and mornings when I wasn’t working. Yet I didn’t find the energy to go out exploring. I think partly because I was too scared to ruin the hills for myself. I was afraid of not being able to find peace there and not actually enjoying it because my mind was troubled with negative thoughts. But also I was so exhausted by those same thoughts that I just couldn’t find the energy and the calling for it.

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I had plenty of happy moments in 2017 but I miss those hours spent out hiking in the hills. I miss the fells. I miss that girl who felt most alive in the hills. I wish I knew how to find her again because life without enjoyment is pretty dull and I’m getting really tired of it.