If you have been following my posts over the last year you might have seen that I was going through a bit of a rough patch with my mental health, and because of that I started to withdraw from all my hobbies and activities thinking that was what I needed to get better.
I had thought that by taking some isolation time it would give me the room I needed to heal, and I would be able to come back stronger than ever. That by getting rid of all the things I thought were causing me stress and anxiety it would allow me to take the deep breath I was so desperately needing.
And whilst I can see why I thought those things were the right things to do at the time – I now know otherwise.
My book blogging and review platform, no matter how amateur, was always a space for me to be creative and have fun. It was where I felt free to put my thoughts and ideas and creativity out into the world, and bounce off others that shared the same views.
But the higher you climb, the further you have to fall.
I started to place VALUE on my success, and that the numbers were the way to reflect that success. The number of followers on my account, the amount of views I was getting, the likes and comments my posts were getting. And each day I was competing with the previous day – I was competing with myself. And it was exhausting.
Instagram kept changing the algorithm, and I was finding it harder and harder to stay on top of the monster I had created. I was watching my efforts fall short, and slowly but surely I was watching my numbers get smaller and smaller.
And because I had associated worth and value with this mindset, the ‘failure’ of my account started to feel like a failure in myself. And I couldn’t do it anymore.
So I switched it all off. Everything.
I went cold turkey. And it was HARD.
I had done a complete 180. I went from being active and vocal on most social channels every day, to deactivating everything and going silent… for months.
At first I was riding the high of the decision. The absolute thrill and exhilaration of deleting and deactivating everything and slipping into oblivion was great. I was loving the silence, and for once I felt like I was above all the stress and anxiety I had been feeling every day – and I was really enjoying it.
But no-one really said anything.
There was no immediate reaction from anyone. And I kept looking at my phone waiting for a message from someone to validate my reason for disappearing? I was searching for someone to reassure me that I had done the right thing, that by deactivating everything I was taking the right step towards getting better. But that didn’t happen. It wasn’t a secret that I had been struggling with my mental health, as I had made an effort to be open and honest about things on my social channels. Which is why the silence I had originally loved from my disconnect, crept up on me and became suffocating.
But did anyone actually care? Why did I even bother talking about things or saying how I felt out loud when it didn’t make a difference.
Whilst the decisions I had made, and the actions I had taken were to help myself and to get myself onto a better path, and it was never about getting a reaction from anyone – it was hurtful to take that first step out into the unknown and not have anyone around ready to catch me if I fell.
People didn’t really say anything about the change – Almost like they were scared to approach the subject. When I had attempted to create small talk or arrange to catch up with them they were hesitant, flaky, or straight-up disinterested.
And it was feeling like because I had made it known that I was struggling with my mental health, that people were viewing it as my everything and was the only thing I was capable of talking about.
And that’s when I hit rock bottom.
I wasn’t participating in my hobbies or activities because I had tied so many of them to social media – and without the community to bounce off and be motivated by, I had lost the desire to do my favourite things. I wasn’t socialising with people; and i’m not sure how much of it actually was them tip-toeing around conversations with me, and how much of it was me being overly critical and self-sabotaging.
So all I had left was my job, which I threw every ounce of energy I had into. And my partner and my two best friends, who were the only ones that cared enough to hold on tight whilst I was falling hard and fast through this mess. (Travis, Rovy, and Emily – I know you’ll read this at some point so just know how much I love and treasure you).
But the thing about these three people is that they didn’t pull me out of the hole – because they couldn’t. I got myself into it, and I needed to get myself out of it. But they each threw me some sort of tool, shouted their reassurances down the hole, and sat nearby keeping me company so that I never felt alone.
So, I started again from the bottom.
I took the first step. And then the next one.
I got help, and started to talk to someone about what was really important and what I needed to leave behind.
I kept going to work.
I reactivated my personal social media channels and slowly started sharing again.
I embraced the vulnerability and put myself out there to make new friends, and found that there were people who understood and supported what it was like to have such a weight on your shoulders – and they didn’t treat me any differently because of it.
Which is why i’m here today. Writing this post. Because I’ve come to the next step in my little journey, and i’m ready to start putting it back out there again.
My books, my social channels, and the photos I take are some of my favourite things – and whilst they can be the cause of stress and anxious thoughts, their benefits outweigh the bad. And even though it’s scary to put your thoughts and feelings out there into the world, and I know that 99% people won’t know how to respond or don’t want to approach the topic, there will always be the 1% of people that will appreciate it – and those are the people I need to find.
So i’m going to start again. A fresh start, with a new mindset. A new journey, and a mission to find people that share the same ideas and values as myself – and work with them to become a better and stronger version of myself.
Here’s to the next chapter.