Picture Perfect

With the explosion of social media in the past few years, there is a rampant trend that public figures are creating an appearance of a picture perfect life and their fans/followers are left with a false sense of what reality should be. This leads to feelings of constant disappointment, anxiety, depression, etc. It is easy to “fake” perfection in photos but impossible to know what an individual may be struggling with emotionally and/or mentally. Now more than ever, we all need to be talking about mental health and how it is a much bigger problem than society realizes.

I have been struggling a lot mentally feeling completely overwhelmed; with work, life, and everything in between. The effects of a harsh cold winter are really getting me down and filling me with constant anxiety. It wasn’t until my husband said to me one day, “you are depressed” and immediately I retorted “I am not!”. In my mind he was way off base because none of my tell tale signs of depression were present. But in all honesty, it slowly crept up on me over the past few months as the depression manifested in ways I never experienced before. I found myself often angry, irritable, short, annoyed, ill-tempered, etc. which is definitely not me in the slightest. Before I met my husband 7.5 years ago, I suffered from bouts of severe depression for most of my life and I knew those obvious cues (becoming severely recluse, crying, loss of appetite, social anxiety, etc). Since 2010, those bouts disappeared and I thought maybe I had finally beat it. Then in 2015, I got really sick as some of you know and the feelings of depression returned. Obviously it never truly went away but it lay dormant until life took some unexpected turns.

It is hard to put into words, but it is a daily struggle trying to do normal every day things. From getting dressed for work or always reaching for loose fitting yoga clothes, to not tidying up after myself at home…I do not feel like putting any effort into myself or do much of anything these days. Doing the simplest of tasks feels like being asked to climb the tallest mountain…utterly impossible. On my days off, I often wake up already feeling defeated and have zero motivation to do anything. If my husband asks me one more time to go downstairs to work out together, I think the overwhelming feeling of anxiety will eat me alive. My biggest struggle is keeping all these emotions inside and not letting it show on the outside to those around me. I too am guilty of “faking it”; a shield used to not let people in and a double edged sword. The one thing that keeps me going is knowing in time it will pass but I have to push through each day no matter how futile it may seem to do so.

The only way to overcome the overwhelming sense of darkness is to keep pushing through and leaning on those who love us the most. We have to look after ourselves and focus on the little things which result in small victories. Recently as you all know, I signed up for weekly sewing classes, something I have wanted to do forever but I always let anxiety and stress hold me back. It is hard to find the motivation to go to class each week but once I am there, I find myself in very a happy place. Hopefully once I learn more about sewing, it will become a bigger pass time to keep me busy doing another endeavor that I really enjoy.

In an effort to alleviate some of these paralyzing emotions, I focused on performing a massive closet clean out in hopes of re-homing lots of vintage pretties that simply do not get enough love these days. It was an eye opening exercise to say the least. I had quickly amassed a huge pile of clothes to list, realizing many of them had been a part of my collection for several years already. It felt so amazing to find new homes for the vast majority right away and I do intend to continue pulling items in the weeks to come. It is a truly rewarding form of therapy to declutter our lives and find peace with letting go of the things that we no longer need.

I am sharing my story in hopes to end the stigma surrounding mental health and bring awareness to those who find themselves wishing they had a picture perfect life like they see on social media. Instead of just stepping in front of the camera to “fake it”, now you can see the real person and the conflicts she is battling on the inside as well. Each step forward is one in the right direction to winning the battle of depression.

PS. I am sorry if this post was a bit all over the place, I tried my best to collect my thoughts in an organized manner but felt it was rather difficult to write while controlling all the mixed emotions.

 

 

 

 

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11 comments

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  1. Evett Cadenas

    Hi Jessica! I’ve recently finished reading your blog from it’s conception to today’s post. I love reading your entries..but kind of lurk and have never posted. However, THIS resonated with me. I can’t say that I struggle with depression – but I’ve definitely have had my experience with it. The unfortunate part was my husband at the time (now ex-husband) was totally against me getting help. When I said that I think I need to go see someone, he said “so you want to spend more money?” When in all reality it shouldn’t have been a problem…it should have been “whatever makes you better.” I know when you are in a depressed state, sometimes we forget the little things that we do have. I remember coming home and being sad…about what? I had no idea…just sad. When I walked in, my now ex-husband was dancing around in the kitchen while cooking dinner…then he saw me and my face must have read I’M SAD AND DEPRESSED because his mood instantly changed. At that moment, I decided to tell myself to find at least one thing everyday that makes me happy. When I did….my mood started to slowly shift. I’m not saying this is what you need to do – but it helped me and maybe it could help some of your other readers. As a side note – I live in Southern California where the seasons don’t change much….if it were gloomy out, I’m sure seasonal depression would be much more of a factor. Keep your chin up!

    • Jessica

      Oh my Evett, thank you for dedicating so much time to reading my blog. My heart breaks hearing that the one person who was supposed to be your rock and shoulder to lean on failed you so terribly. The silver lining surely is that he is now an ex and you found a way to fight the battle on your own. Thank you for sharing your story and giving me something to strive for. ❤

      PS. I am fortunate that my spouse is very supportive despite not fully understanding my illness.

  2. kitschnstuff

    Dear Jessica,

    I just wanted you to know that you’re very much not alone in how you feel. I too deal with mental illness (depression, anxiety, and C-PTSD. I am considered disabled because of these things.) I am pretty darn good at pasting on a smile and my usual response to “How are you?” is “Pretty good!”… even when I’m not doing well at all. I don’t have any great advice or witty things to say, but I just wanted you to know you are NOT alone. (And I’m offering ginormous mental hugs.)

  3. kellyanneolga

    Absolutely Jessica, this is a wonderful post, and I am sure it was difficult to write! As I’ve gotten older I have a lot of anxiety and living in a northern climate has caused a fair amount of seasonal depression which I don’t always see coming. I too have a presentation as you mention, irritable, angry, bitter. it’s a terrible feeling and never makes sense as it comes on very suddenly. Depression is so difficult to understand, as you can’t “see” it. and the anxiety! if i tell friends I have anxiety I swear they don’t believe me because it doesn’t seem to fit with my overall personality. sigh. Thank you for putting it out there and being so wonderfully honest! I hope the sewing classes continue to bring happiness! (and those quotes are terrific)

    • Jessica

      Thank you for sharing your struggles with me as well. I cannot empathize more for those who live in the colder Northern climates; seasonal depression the hardest thing to overcome year after year. After 35 years, I can say I am no closer to figuring out this illness…it evolves and manifests in so many ways. People see that you look fine on the outside so they simply cannot understand the battle that rages every day on the inside. Sending you lots of positive energy to get through this long cold winter, I sincerely appreciate your kind words. ❤

  4. Jeni Cash

    Social media can be fun, but it definitely brings out a darker side of human behaviour. Sometimes, it seems like people are so dependent on getting ‘likes’ that they live their life through their phones, more concerned with showing their followers what a good time they’re having, rather than genuinely letting go. That can’t be a very healthy way to live either… I hope that you pursue your sewing, it is immensely satisfying to create something yourself, not to mention therapeutic!

    As I say to my friends, it’s always better to be honest with your nearest and dearest about what’s going on inside your head. Just talking about it removes the stigma and can go a long way to helping.
    I wish you well on your journey to inner peace and well being!

    • Jessica

      You are so completely right. So many seek validation of their worth based on “likes” and comments from complete strangers. They can receive hundreds of positive compliments and one negative sends them on a downward spiral. Thankfully I have never fell into this trap and truly enjoy disconnecting from social media when I go on vacation.

      I am fully intend to keep up with sewing, it is indeed very therapeutic. It’s such a wonderful feeling seeing your hard work turn into a wearable piece of art.

      Thank you for your kind words, I truly appreciate them. ❤

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