How to Protect Yourself on Social Media

New YouTube video! In this one I share the tips I took to clean up my social media feed so I was being exposed to content that made me feel good, helped with my recovery, and was aligned with my goals.

The accounts we follow and the information we see on a daily basis really affect how we think and feel, so I hope these steps help you clean up your feeds so you are exposing yourself to content that makes you feel good and lifts you up 💖

The song that plays in the video is: Ahorita by Carlos Sadness

To stay updated with all the videos I release, make sure to subscribe! Thanks for watching friends 🙂 xoxo

3 Tips to Combat Difficult Body Image Moments

I made a YouTube video! 🎥✨ I want to share things that have helped me overcome anxiety, depression, and my eating disorder in a way that can be more direct, engaging, and effective. The power of video is undeniable so I decided to give it a shot.

In my first video I share three things I do to help me turn things around when I’m having a difficult body image day. I hope you find them helpful, and I would love to hear what helps you when you’re struggling with negative thoughts or difficult body image moments. I could use all the help I can get too so please share in the comments! 💖

You can find my brand new YouTube channel here! If you want to stay up to date on all the new videos I add make sure to subscribe. I am planning on releasing one new video a week that shares helpful mental health and feel good tips 🙂 Hope you’re having a lovely day! xoxo LG

four days without a phone

The Original LG - Tough Times

I lost my phone four days ago. I left it in an Uber in Paris on the way to the airport and have now been living four days completely without a phone. Since it has been quite destabilizing I wanted to ramble on what has come up for me during this experience – and in case you’re wondering, no I still do not have a phone, lol.

It has been a strange and eye-opening experience. From my complete helplessness in being able to get it back (it was either getting on my flight or trying to find the phone), to having to surrender to being without it, to losing communication with the outside world (emails have been my main form of communication), and then dealing with how to get a new phone without having a phone to make phone calls with — it has been a serious practice in surrender and patience.

You don’t realize how much you rely on something until you do not have it, and our phones pretty much contain our lives nowadays.

On top of that, I was sick on my flight back from Paris with a cold and felt depleted when I got home. Then on Saturday I woke up with terrible cramps and got my period. It has felt like one thing after another!

I have felt disoriented and unsure of what to do with myself. Which made me realize: we truly are addicted to our phones. I have not thought of myself as a very phone dependent person, but this experience made me realize how real the addiction is.

I feel like I have gone through stages of withdrawal these past few days: it started with shock and disbelief, then anger and frustration, followed by sadness and isolation, and now finally release.

Friday and Saturday were the worst, but today I woke up and thought: well I have to go on without it.

I went out and did all the things I normally “needed” my phone to do. I went on a hike in complete silence, I drove around LA without google maps, picked up my boyfriend for lunch at the exact time we had agreed upon (no little timing changes or running late), read my New Yorker Magazine when I got a pedicure, took chances by going to places without knowing if they were open or not (and surprise - the library was closed) and then adjusting.

It has been strange, and I do feel like I am missing out in some weird way and was scared as a female doing things alone without any way of being able to reach out to someone if something went wrong, but after pushing through these discomforts, I am seeing the gift in it.

The freedom and space it has given me is lovely. I am not constantly bombarded by messages all throughout my day. When I am with someone, I give them my full attention, having nothing to pull at my thoughts or check on even for a second. When I am out and about, I am fully present. When I am at my apartment I have done things that are more introspective and nourishing - I have read interesting articles, read more of my books, and journaled each day. I have gone to sleep MUCH earlier each night. And I overall just feel calmer.

Random Self Care Thoughts

Self Care Thoughts

Self-Care doesn’t have to be meditation, working out and green juice — to me it’s honoring what you truly need when you need some comfort and care — which could be wine, a nap, seeing friends or funny YouTube videos.

Recently for me it was a matcha, crying and Friends reruns at 11am on a Thursday morning... 🍵😢📺 Here’s what happened:

A few weeks ago, I went to the DMV to get my CA driver’s license. The day before I prepared everything I needed, and spent an hour studying for the test. I woke up extra early, got there right when they opened and waited in the long line. I had been there for two hours and gone through two people reviewing and approving all my documents.

I thought I was finally at the part where I would take my test and picture and be done. NOPE!

The next lady I was sent to was AWFUL and said she didn’t like that my bills said either my first name or middle name aka “weren’t consistent” and told me to leave and come back when I had bills that were “consistent.” When I tried to ask her why the other people approved my documents, or show her that my birth certificate has both names, she said she didn’t care what they did or what my birth certificate said she wouldn’t let me go through. I was shocked and frustrated that she wouldn’t even listen or answer my questions.

I didn’t know what else to do since she was completely shutting me out so I just left. I called my mom and told her the situation and she told me to go home, get what I needed and go back.

I would usually push myself to do that but I didn’t have it in me on that day. I felt so angry, depleted and disrespected, that I just wanted to go home, feel safe and comforted — so I honored that.

Right away the first thing I wanted was a big delicious matcha, to let out my feelings of frustration and rejection, and to just sit on the couch and give myself the permission to watch something lighthearted that made me laugh and feel good.

A voice in my head was saying, you should be working, or doing something productive, getting this thing done that you need to get done, or reading something thought provoking – but I ignored all those voices and gave myself some comfort — and it was exactly what I needed. Don’t judge yourself for whatever you need. Let yourself off the hook sometimes, sometimes that what self care is all about.

Content Diet

Content Diet

The things you read, people you follow, and the content you watch have a big impact on what you think and how you feel. It is the fuel you are putting into your brain, and just like the famous Buddha saying goes, “what you think, you become.”

An important part of self-care and recovery that isn’t discussed enough is the impact the information you are consuming is having on your wellbeing. Because we are living in an era of relentless connectivity and social media saturation, we need to protect ourselves, and an important way we can do that is by being very conscientious about what we are following and reading.

Content Diet

When I realized this I took a deep look into how the content I was consuming on a daily basis was making me feel, and then cleaned out all the junk I didn’t want making it’s way into my head.

I wanted to expose myself to things that lit me up and inspired me, not things that made me criticize myself or brought me down.

In my opinion, the only types of “diets” we should be talking about are: CONTENT DIETS. Just like if you eat nourishing foods you are going to feel energized, if you consume thought-provoking interesting content you are going to feel expanded.

For our mental health and well-being, it is very important that we be aware of how certain content makes us feel and to remove things that don’t align with our goals or help us feel our best.

Here are some of the tactics I have applied to my life to remove negative content that was making me feel good:

Social Media:

  • I don’t follow people that make me feel bad about myself

    • This can be someone I knew from college, a toxic friendship, or a wellness influencer – anything that makes me feel less than or that my situation just isn’t as good as theirs — is an unfollow.

  • Bloggers who are “super healthy” restrictive eaters

    • Nothing against them but that content isn’t healthy for me and it makes me start questioning what I am eating and I don’t need that — I want Recovery :)

  • Skinny models or photos posted with beauty/body ideals that aren’t aligned with what I want to believe in

    • I am working towards believing in beauty standards that are more realistic and accepting of all body shapes and sizes

    • Therefore models, especially VS models or bathing suit company models, are not the types of beauty ideals I want pushed upon me

  • Any accounts that I have found to be triggering, crude, or inappropriate

    • Sometimes these don’t even make sense but if the content feels triggering, gross or cruel in some way, it isn’t something I wan to be exposed to

Media/News:

  • I don’t follow any news outlets on social media and am not subscribed to any of their email marketing lists

    • I don’t want information pushed upon, rather I want to go to the websites and choose what I want to read

    • I pick the articles that I want to be reading

  • I don’t read the news every day

    • I know some people might find this irresponsible but my first priority is to take care of myself and A LOT of what is in the news is triggering and upsetting for me, so I choose to protect myself and not read this content every day

    • I will read the headlines every other day to be aware of developments, and then I will choose which stories look interesting to me

    • I listen to the NPR Up First podcast frequently because I find that way of consuming the news better for me.

  • Read more books & magazines

    • I have been going back to reading hard copy books and magazines because I am tired of how much of my time and attention can get hijacked by advertisements or various things popping up online

    • When I read a magazine article, I can sit and read the magazine article in peace and then move on and do something else without finding myself down an internet rabbit hole two hours later

    • I have a New Yorker subscription which I love — that is my favorite form of reading interesting, well-written articles

What Made Maddy Run – Thoughts on Depression & Suicide

What Made Maddy Run - Perfectionism, Suicide & Depression

I recently read the book – What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan. It was incredibly powerful and moved me deeply. I saw so much of myself in Maddy, and because of a few different choices, I am still here, whereas she is sadly not.

What Made Maddy Run is the story of Madison Holleran, an ambitious college athlete at UPenn who committed suicide her freshman year. The book discusses the story of Maddy’s life, and her struggle with depression, which also reveals the mounting pressures young people face to be perfect and constantly achieve, especially in an age of relentless connectivity and social media saturation.

This is an incredible book for anyone to read, especially those who want to gain a better understanding of mental illness, perfectionism, and how to help people who are struggling.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways I had on depression and suicide from the book (I also had thoughts on perfectionism I wanted to share, but this post go too long, so I will share that in a separate post):

Depression

Throughout the book, it is repeatedly mentioned that people couldn’t understand what had gone wrong, or how Maddy was so unhappy when everything was great in her life — loving parents, happy family, talented, smart, athletic, beautiful, popular. Depression and mental health issues — they don’t have a face! It can happen to and affect anyone, and some of the most depressed people have a seemingly “perfect” life. It is genetic, so trying to make sense of it is futile.

When someone tells you they aren’t doing well or if someone is having a rough day, be kind to them — you really don’t know what anyone is going through.

No one would ever have suspected I was severely depressed. I became an expert at going from crying to slapping on my happy, cheerful face and being vivacious Lili. I would tell my mom how I hated seeing people because I was so tired of faking it and would get annoyed when people would describe me as — Oh Lili is always so sweet and happy — I felt like such a fraud and so alone.

Suicide

This is something I haven’t opened up about before, but if this can help anyone, even just a single person, it is worth it to me.

I had a really tough time when I was about 25 years old. I would wake up with nothing that made me want to get out of bed. I hated my work and what my life had turned into. The climax of all of this was when I would show up at the office and couldn’t stop crying. Just crying and crying and no matter how much I tried to stop I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I would run outside and pretend like I was going to get a coffee and just stand in an alleyway and cry.

That was when the thought struck me – if this is what my life is going to be, I don’t want it.

I didn’t want this life. I was miserable and tired of being so deeply unhappy. I didn’t see a way out and thought I could no longer continue. It was a scary thought, but in an effort to be honest, I just wanted the suffering to end.

I called my mom and she connected me with a suicide hotline and I spoke to them. It was terrifying but it was the first step I took in getting help. They instructed me to go talk to HR and figure out a solution whether that be medical leave or intensive therapy. That is when I started seeing a therapist twice a week. I considered inpatient treatment – which I wish I would have done – but at the moment I was terrified of people finding out about it and thought it sounded too extreme.

I want to emphasize the point here that I didn’t look at it as killing myself, I saw it as ending the suffering because I didn’t see another way out. At this point I had been struggling with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder for over ten years and didn’t know how or if I ever would get better. I also hated my job but didn’t know what I wanted to do instead, I felt completely trapped.

I think  this is a helpful thing to note because people just look at suicide as killing yourself and that wasn’t at all how I saw it when I was in the midst of my darkest thoughts. I felt like I was already trapped in the hell of my daily life, and it seemed like it would provide a release.

In reading Maddy’s story I can see how she was miserable and unhappy and couldn’t see a way out. I relate to how she felt so utterly trapped and was suffering deeply that she just wanted it to end. When you are in such a dark place it is very difficult to think clearly or see other options, you feel extremely stuck and exhausted. You also don’t see time clearly, a week can feel like eternity, and you need help IMMEDIATELY. When my mom would tell me to just finish out the week at work, it felt like a mountain I couldn’t climb and it would infuriate me because I felt like she didn’t understand the gravity of my pain, you need help and for things to change right away because you are already at your wits end.

If you’re struggling with any of this get help now. Call the suicide hotline or talk to HR right away. Things truly can change today and there is a way out that doesn’t involve suicide or hurting yourself. That is what I wish I could tell Maddy if she was here today — that things can get better and she can get better. To take a break from school and get the help she needs right away so she can find her way out of that hell and start creating a life that makes her happy.

My Experience with Medication

Experience with Medication

The decision to take medication is deeply personal and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Each person’s situation is unique and you need to do what is best for you. All I can speak about is my experience with it and what it has done for me, so that is what I am going to share here.

If you are on the fence about talking to a medical professional, psychiatrist, or you have already been prescribed some medication and not sure what to do – I hope you find this information helpful.

I also wanted to mention here that I am not going to name the specific medication or dosage that I am taking as I don’t think that information is helpful. What works best for me might not be the appropriate thing for you. What is best is that you speak to a mental health professional and get the right diagnosis for you.

Pre-medication days:

Before I started taking medication I had some really rough years, and the months right before I started taking medication were no different.

I didn’t feel safe in myself and didn’t know when a big storm of emotion would come in and just take me down. Instead of feeling like a strong house built on a solid foundation I felt like a wobbly house built out of straw. I would have times where I knew wasn’t feeling stable and was extra sensitive and then one comment or one little thing would happen that would be the trigger to completely take me down. It was scary and I felt like I was always walking on egg-shells with myself.

I would get worried when I had been doing well for an extended period of time because I knew that was when the storms would come. I would be crying all day and as much as I wanted to snap out of it I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I would feel exhausted afterwards, like my body had gone through something huge and was spit out on the other side.

When I started having these episodes more frequently and when being sad and pessimistic started to become my constant, my therapist asked if I would be open to learning more about medication and seeing whether it could help me.

Deciding to take medication:

When my therapist first asked if I would be open to it, I didn’t know how I felt about it. I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t know much about it. No one in my family took medication or knew anything about it, and no one around me spoke openly about medication. But one thing I knew was that I trusted and felt safe around my therapist and I wanted to feel better.

The first step in my journey to start taking medication was that my therapist referred me to a psychiatrist that she trusted. She gave me her information and assured me that I wouldn’t have to take any medication if I didn’t feel comfortable with it but that it didn’t hurt anything to speak with someone and get their opinion.

I set up the appointment and was nervous because I had no idea what to expect but kept telling myself to remain open-minded.

I went to the appointment and had a very positive experience and felt so understood. When I described the emotions and episodes I’d had she would hear what I was saying and explain them to me in a more in depth way. She could describe all of them and tell me what they were, it was extremely reassuring.  For the first time I was understanding what was going on with me instead of feeling so in the dark about all of it. 

She also asked me a lot of questions about my health and all the various areas of my life. I really appreciated the comprehensive look she took as to what was going on in my life instead of simply just saying – “yeah, you’re anxious take this.” She was extremely thorough and wanted to do some blood tests on me because some of my vitals were low and my periods were very irregular.

At the end of the session she told me what her diagnosis was and said that she did recommend that I take medication. She went over the medication she was prescribing and suggested I speak with my therapist about it and then to let her know what I decided.

The next day I had my appointment with my therapist and we discussed everything and I decided to move forward with taking the medication. The main deciding factors for me were:

  • I had nothing to lose and so much to gain. There was no harm of testing this out. I would take it slowly and see how it made me feel, and if it didn’t work for me I could stop, but if it really helped me this would be huge.

  • I had a strong mental health support team around me that would be checking in on me regularly and that made me feel really safe in moving forward with this decision. I did not feel alone.

Mental Health Medication

The effect the medication had on me:

I started off with a very low dose and took it slowly from there. I had a check in with the psychiatrist every 3-4 weeks to see how I was doing and continued to see my therapist every week. At the very beginning I had a few small headaches with the medication but it wasn’t anything intolerable. Once my body adjusted to the medication the headaches went away.

At every check in the psychiatrist would see how I was doing and we would adjust the dosage if needed; I would ask her any questions I had; she would check in on how my anxiety levels were and what else was going on in my life.

The whole process of taking the medication was honestly very smooth for me. I did not have any strong reactions to it and the first medication that I started taking worked well for me. I did not have to try out a few different ones or mess around with various amounts of dosages, I luckily found my sweet spot pretty quickly.

The two things that I did notice started to really affect me once I was on the medication were:

Coffee and Alcohol

I had always been a coffee drinker and never felt much of an affect from it, but once I started taking the medication I would feel on edge and jittery when I drank coffee. And if I drank any coffee after 2pm in the afternoon I couldn’t sleep. It felt like the coffee was much stronger in my system once I started taking the medication.

Alcohol also hit me much harder. I remember one night that I went out to dinner with some friends and had only one glass of wine and was almost passed out on the table. I felt so dizzy and off I couldn’t drive home. It was scary and I felt completely wonky in a way that I had never felt from drinking such a small amount of wine.

I asked the psychiatrist about these things and she told me that alcohol and weed (even though I don’t smoke) were two things I should not have while taking this medication because they interfere with it and basically cancel it out. So all the work I am doing to take this medication to help me feel better just goes to waste.

And with the coffee she said some people are more sensitive and if coffee wasn’t working for me or making me feel well to switch to something gentler and to not have caffeine in the afternoon. That is why I now drink matcha and haven’t touched coffee or alcohol in about three months!  

How I am feeling now:

I am feeling so much better and have had a very positive and smooth experience with the medication.

Here are some of the biggest positive effects it has had on me:

  • It helped me quiet my inner voice of self-doubt, self-sabotage, criticism, over-thinking, indecisiveness, freak out, anxiety — so that I can now function in the world in an empowered way.

  • It has helped me turn down all of that negative noise and not let those things sabotage me. It feels like those things are starting to slide down my back or dissolve. They don’t get in the way or hold me back from doing anything I want to do anymore.

  • I feel stronger and more confident in myself. I am able to do the things I want to do and live my  life the way I want to live it and just say fuck it to anything else.

  • I am not afraid to stand up for myself and clearly say what I believe in and be unapologetic about myself and my needs.

  • I don’t let little things bother me as much and I can now shrug them off and let them go.

  • I don’t care what other people think about me anywhere near as much.

  • I know how to take care of myself better, I feel stronger, and am happier now because I am going after and doing the things that I want to be doing.

This isn’t to say that I don’t have some emotional or sad days now but I don’t get as low and hopeless as I used to before. I can pull myself out of it and be more moderate about it instead of catastrophizing things the way I used to before.

The biggest thing it has brought me is the safety I now feel within myself and the ability to fully and unapologetically be myself instead of overthinking and doubting everything.

I hope this was helpful for some people. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me and ask – I am happy to help and share in a safe way. Wishing everyone happier and brighter days!

The Recovery Diaries: Self-Acceptance

Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance – what does that actually look like? And how do you get there? I’m no expert on any of these things but I think it’s an ever-evolving process that we are constantly working on as we go through life. We will continue to have situations that show up that we have to work through regarding how we feel about ourselves. It might be dealing with something that has come up around how we perceive ourselves or how others perceive us, or ways we behave in a relationship or tendencies we have – the possibilities are endless because there are so many layers to self-acceptance.

The self-acceptance I am going to be talking about here is the one that frees us from beating ourselves up over things that we cannot change about ourselves, and instead helps us embrace all the parts that make us who we are. Stopping the fight and criticism of ourselves and deciding to let it go because there truly is nothing wrong with us.

I know this sounds vague, so the easiest way for me to explain is to give an example from my life and hope this helps you identify similar tendencies in yourself. Then you can apply this to your situation and work on releasing it as I am working on doing this as well.

Self-Acceptance

So here it goes:

For as long as I can remember I have been a small person. When I was in elementary school and you had to line up according to height I was usually the first person in line. When someone would say we need the short people in the front, everyone would immediately say – “where’s Lili?”

I didn’t think much of it when I was young, I simply accepted it as the way it was, and went on with my life. I was short, my mom was short, my grandma was short, and that was that. It wasn’t until I started getting older that so much started to become attached to it. One of the biggest things this created was being perceived as younger than I actually was, which resulted in people treating me like a child, and wanting to take care of me.

I started to feel insecure and bad about this, and would blame myself for it. If anyone ever told me they thought I was younger – my first thoughts would be: What was I doing that was making people think I was younger? What was I doing wrong? Was I not acting assertive or mature? Did I act like a child? Why did I have to be so child like?? All of this started snowballing into me believing that there was something wrong with me.

I had a college professor and a boss both tell me that I was smart but I would have an uphill battle being taken seriously in the professional world because I was a petite woman. They suggested that I should practice behaving and speaking more authoritatively.

I remember when my college professor pulled me aside and told me that, I felt ashamed and angry with myself. I hated myself for being short and for not speaking in a more scholarly way or something.

It didn’t cross my mind that MAYBE some of these things were simply out of my control. These were things that were part of who I was and what made me unique.

I turned 30 this year and this story has still been triggering for me. Something happened just last week around this that made me feel uncomfortable.  

But then I had a moment of awareness where I stopped and questioned it, and I thought to myself – why am I blaming myself for this? Why am I making this a bad thing?

I know that I am a responsible, competent woman who gets her things done, and just because I am perceived as younger, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It is neither good or bad, it just is what it is, and beating myself up about it is unnecessary.

My body, my height, my voice, my spirit – they are doing nothing wrong. I am doing nothing wrong. This is simply who I am, and if I happen to have a lighter, youthful energy then I am just going to accept it as what it is.

If there are things about yourself that make you insecure, stop and think about them and ask yourself if there is actually anything bad about them? Is there really something wrong with it or is just that you think there’s something wrong or because people make you feel weird about it but it’s actually not good or bad, it just is what it is? If that’s the case let’s release it, we don’t need to be carrying around that negativity anymore.

So yeah – I am short, and will always be small, and might always look more like a child than a commanding voluptuous woman, and you know what I am learning to accept it. I’m done with criticizing and picking myself apart. It’s time for some loving self-acceptance and to start believing that there is nothing wrong with me - and I hope you start working on doing the same too.

The Recovery Diaries: Anxiety

Anxiety Quote

Anxiety is a very individual thing. I don’t claim to understand how it affects other people or what their experience is with it. I don’t know much about it outside of my own experience, which I didn’t realize was anxiety until I was told that what I was feeling wasn’t normal and then a psychiatrist diagnosed it as anxiety and depression.

I want to share a bit of my experience in case it helps others who are going through something similar get help or take steps in managing it. For me this is how it usually manifests itself: 

I am in one place trying to do something and I can’t stay focused on it because I keep getting worried about something that’s not happening at that moment.

I am either freaking out about something in the future or something that happened in the past. For example, say I am trying to read a book, I can’t focus on it because I can’t stop worrying and over thinking about what is going to happen the next day. I feel very restless about all the things I need to get done and want to make sure I plan and organize and think through everything I need to accomplish the next day. I go over things multiple times – to the point where there is nothing left to think about but I can’t not think about it. I end up feeling paralyzed and frustrated that I can’t get it out of my head and can’t do the thing I am trying to do in real time.  

Another scenario where anxiety manifests itself for me is around food and my eating disorder.

If I eat a food that I am not comfortable with –  either I think it isn’t healthy or what I should be eating I start ruminating and ruminating about it to the point that it makes me so uncomfortable and my skin is crawling. I can’t get over the fact that I ate it and am freaking out about it and all I want to do is purge. Just get it out of my system in some way because I can’t handle that I have eaten it and I don’t want to deal with these repercussions of not being able to get it out of my head. My life would be easier if I just threw it up and then I could move forward with my day thinking about anything else.  

For me the main characteristic of my anxiety is that I can’t let it go. I can’t shrug it off. No matter how hard I try, I lack the ability to shut the emotion down.

It feels like it keeps gnawing and gnawing at me until I feel like I am going crazy. I have taken sleeping pills to make myself pass out so it can just stop. It’s like a broken record on repeat and no matter how hard you try you can’t get it to stop.

Before I knew what it was I had no idea how to take care of myself through it so I had awful ways of coping: like I said, I would take sleeping pills to knock me out, I would drink, I would restrict my food so I wouldn’t have to deal with those food thoughts, or purge when I did eat the foods, I would numb with anything that I could. This was hard, and I am still surprised at how I functioned in life.

Now that I know what it is, and that I have a mental health support team, things are starting to change in a positive direction. I have been working on creating healthy ways of dealing with and working through it. Not only am I working to manage it better, I am working to find ways to alleviate the anxiety to begin with.

I am incorporating regular healthy habits: meditation, journaling, yoga, hiking. These things help shift my energy and get me out of my head.

I have also started to take medication because I have decided that if this could help me lead a more manageable and stable life then I wanted to give myself this help.

I have tried to manage everything by myself since I was 13 and I am starting to realize that maybe some of these issues are too big for me to handle on my own and that is ok. It doesn’t mean I am weak, it just means I could use a little extra support while I work on tackling these things and I can be more fully present in my life.

It is still pretty early in my medication journey but I feel like things are starting to ease up for me. I am actually starting to see the light at the end of tunnel and have hope that things can change. It’s not like I have some magic solution going on and everything is sunshine and flowers right now but I am taking it one day at a time, and hoping, like my dad says, that I will have more good days than bad days. Here’s to that.

Why Do We Compare?

Why do I constantly compare myself to others? I have noticed this tendency and it is such an absurd, pointless behavior that never leaves me feeling better but I continue to do it. I am catching myself now and recognize its futility, (which is definitely a positive step in the right direction of not letting it grab me and pull me down) but I wish it was something that I wouldn't do in the first place. That my brain wouldn't go there by default. It's like I am hard wired to think this way and I wish I could change the circuitry to not let these thoughts enter my brain to begin with.

If you take a second before going down the comparison rabbit hole and unpack it, you realize that none of this stuff is actually real. It's all made up and ultimately becomes an anxiety ridden waste of time. Let's take a second then shall we? I'll break it down for us right here:

When I compare I use these benchmarks that don't exist. I'll use this made up gathered list of "desirable" qualities but when I stop and think about the criteria, it's like according to who? Who made up the list of "desirable" qualities? Who is saying that these things are better than those things? That it's better to be here rather than there? Are they really better? Have they been tested and proved? Are they real markers of a happier life? Who is keeping score and saying that person X is ahead of person Y in the game of life?

These comparison benchmarks are just things our society has constructed as what you should want but they are completely made up.

Something that one person one day deemed superior. They aren't truths or facts – they are subjective. In addition, they aren't things you can actually compare because people are not constants in a scientific experiment, they are variables. Everyone is different. Something that makes one person happy might make another person miserable. You are constantly comparing apples to oranges. You don't know what it's like to be in someone else's brain. 

For example, my comparison list says that it’s better to be busy with lots of social plans and have many friends than to only have a few plans and a small group of friends. But that’s not a universal truth – some people are happier with a small group of close friends than having a large social circle of acquaintances. Some people would rather have an intimate low-key dinner than going to a large party. It all depends on the person and what they personally enjoy and saying that one thing is superior to the other and is what that person should aim for, will cause some people to be unhappy if they actually achieve it.

So why do I compare when it doesn't mean if someone else's life is even happy or not? Or that I would enjoy the things they have? Why do I attach importance to it? Someone could have ALL of the so-called "desirable" qualities and still be miserable, and I could have all of the mediocre qualities and be content. Look at Anthony Bourdain for example.

Comparing never helps. It never leaves me feeling any better about myself or my life or how I am doing.

I am either left feeling less than someone else... bad about how my life has unfolded compared to theirs. Or I feel shitty that I am putting someone else down and reassuring myself that I'm ok because look at them. I shouldn't be feeling ok with myself because I think someone else's situation is worse. That is all kinds of messed up.

As we can all see this whole comparison cycle just sucks and brings about nothing good in the process. So then why do I keep doing it? Why do we all keep doing it?

I'm no psychologist but one thing that I think definitely contributes to it is social media and the constant connection and insight we have into other people's lives. It sets us up to compare every second we see what they are doing and then reflect back on what we are doing. We are not able to live our lives in peace, completely in our own lanes, calmly just listening to our own inner voice and what we think is best for us. No – we are constantly being infiltrated with reminders of what Suzie Q is doing, her latest promotion or career move. And then wondering if Suzie Q’s decisions were better and are ultimately leading her down a superior path. 

It’s an awful cycle and continuing to participate in it is one that will lead to a life of constant anxiety and desperation.

I think recognizing it and catching yourself in the cycle is an important first step, but ultimately we each need to figure out how to take care of ourselves through it. This is especially important now since this social media technological age doesn't seem to be slowing down. I am thinking through ways that I can best take care of myself and live my most joyful life with the way things are today and I am going to start taking steps to implement it so these comparison habits can be a thing of my past that no longer takes up much of my brain space.