Today is my sixth day bedbound. My whole body has been on fire with pain. I’ve been floating between hellish chronic fatigue and anxiety attacks. My painkillers are an experience, to say the least; my stomach has forgotten what eating is. It’s safe to admit that I have gone absolutely crazy.
My life has pretty much involved sleeping, scrolling through Facebook, watching Netflix, and having periodic existential crises. It really sucks not to be able to do anything.
In the beginning, by far the worst of it all was watching my nearest and dearest posting daily images and updates about their lives. With the holidays approaching, my feed is awash with plans for Christmas and New Years, alongside travel snaps, promotion announcements, and memories of nights out that I couldn't attend. I have to admit something:
I hated you all
I wanted more than anything in the world to be in those photos; to be holding up a wine glass in a toast alongside my loved ones or crouching in a picture of the group of backpackers I'd just met. Why did I have to deal with this? Why did everyone else get to do these things and I’m trapped in my cage of illness and crazy?
It’s a dark place to be in--one that doesn’t particularly have any positive or helpful answers. I’ll be really honest: I wanted to die.
Fortunately, as ever, the fighter within me reared up and, just when I thought I could no longer cope, I convinced myself into a full day of healthy habits. Hours of meditation, gentle yoga, casual reading; no screens, no stress, no Facebook. And I realized the most important lesson I've learned to date.
This is not my world
I stare at the screen and I see a world that is exciting and active and happy, and it kills me that I'm trapped on the other side of this piece of glass in my misery and solitude. But here’s the catch: that world I see is not my world, it’s your world.
You are the people that I love and cherish. You have been there for me when I’m down and shared memories that were equally as happy and exciting as the ones I’m staring at now in your most recent pictures. This is your life, and you have a smile on your face and groups of loving, caring people around you that make you feel fulfilled, grateful, and safe.
How could I ever be angry about that?
And just like that, everything changed.
Your happiness is my happiness
To be honest; I think we're all guilty of this. We see the lives of our friends looking shiny, primped and perfected, as we ensure every Facebook post is. We put ourselves in direct comparison; like our lives are in competition, and we are somehow failing by being unable to prove our daily successes online.
In reality, our existences are completely separate. The challenges and opportunities that have been afforded to me are completely different to what you experience. My merits and your merits are not comparable. Would it make me happy to see you fail? Of course not! So your success shouldn’t make me feel like my own is any less worthy.
I may feel absolutely terrible, but I will spend tonight in my beautiful and hard-earned house, snuggled up with my boyfriend and great friends for company. There will be fairy lights, music, and delicious food. I have the security to be able to choose healthy and healing decisions for my body, and that is a luxury that I don't need Facebook to appreciate. I am safe, content, and, for all intents and purposes, happy--if you don’t count the mental illness bombardments.
You might spend the evening letting loose and hitting the town, watching the sunset over the Mekong River or celebrating your great new work deal. If I see your pictures on Facebook, I’ll be happy.
Or maybe your successes go unrecognized because you didn’t get the chance to immortalize them on social media. Maybe you genuinely helped a customer at work or graciously gave up control of the TV remote, perhaps you cried yourself to sleep after a particularly trying day or came up with a great idea or even just spent time with your family. As long as you’re happy, it’s all good with me!
And if you’re sad, then know that you are not alone. Things always turn around eventually.