#FitFam: Surviving Instagram With An Eating Disorder

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I had a few witty one-liners I planned for this opening – but thought I’d instead spare you my subpar comedic timing and roll right into the big question here:

Do you ever feel like Instagram is the cause of a particularly shitty self-esteem day?

This morning, I was out on my deck right? It was barely 70 degrees in Boulder this AM – the sun duckin’ between clouds.

I had Johnny Lee Hooker, Muddy Water, Emmylou Harris on a Spotify playlist – blaring out into the field in front of me. A coffee mug. Sausage breakfast burrito.

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Backyard dinner a couple nights ago

My partner was snoozing. We were out late at a wedding, but unfortunately I haven’t “slept in” since like 1999. The downside of a sensitive personality is that it seems to manifest in unfortunate ways like sensitive sleeper.

I’m a person who wakes up the second my dog stirs.

Open my eyes and immediately run through a checklist of 1000 things I “need” or “should” do today as though any of it is really that important. Mind starts tumbling over itself. Isn’t it funny how we place meaning on our lives by how much we have “to do”?

Anyway, so I’m up this morning. Mosying around – recovering from wine last night, which made me realize early on that it was gonna be a low key day.

Maybe I’d paint my toes.

Maybe I’d work on a freelance project.

Maybe, maybe, maybe –

No real agenda on the docket –

No real responsibility…

No real plan…

Ah, one of those days.

The perfect Instagram storm.

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Ya’ll know what I’m talking about. Sunday mornings, sprawled out on the couch or slouched at the kitchen table. Your bed maybe, cushioned in between the decorative pillows that “bring the room together.”

“What’s going on in the rest of my world?” You wonder, pulling out your phone.

Did{insert ex or ex friend here} see my post last night?

Any interesting follows?

For me: “who got married?” “Who popped out another kid?”

The rabbit hole begins.

Starts innocently enough. A couple scrolls through the news feed.

Ah shit, that baby is already one?

THEY’RE engaged?! When did they get together? {clicks over to girl’s page to see general timeline of when they got together judging by Instagram post dates.)

Awww, X is doing so well with his music. Good for him.

Oh jeez, another girl I know with another fashion blog on my feed. {clicks heart anyway because “women should support women.”) …. ((They should. I just don’t always need to see your $800 Neiman Marcus dress on my feed, reminding me I’m poor and you’re not.))

The downward descent is in full swing.

Read a couple recovery influencers posts.

Damn, that’s brilliant – I think. Wish I had thought of that first.

WAIT, no, RE CORRECT. IT SHOULDN’T MATTER. THIS ISN’T A COMPETITION.

((But… it kinda is…))

NAW. STOP. YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN PATH LINDSEY YOU’RE FINE. SHUT UP.

Clicks over to another person. “DAMN. They’re doing van life??? Touring Europe in extravagant style??”

God, that dude is good at climbing.

Oh jeez, she finished yet another triathlon.

Next pic:

YES, I SEE YOUR ASS EVERY DAY. I KNOW IT’S HARD AND YOU LOVE YOUR GLUTEN FREE SWEETS. YES, I KNOW YOU LIKE TO SHOW US THAT YOU DO, IN FACT, EAT WHEN YOU WANT AND STILL ROCK THAT AMAZING BODY.

PISS OFF.

*Scrolls past bikini pic*

HOW DOES HER BODY NOT AGE.

Scroll past influencer picture of some blonde girl posing all over the world.

Her life is so much more interesting than mine. And she just gets paid to sit around on a glacier. WTF is that.

An ex lover shows up. Damn. He’s back on tour with Bo? {sighs. His life was so interesting when we dated. Too bad he wasn’t that into me.}

Come across a picture of three of my college friends together for a brunch.

Maybe if I lived closer….. I’d still be as close to them.

Like it. Comment “Love ya’ll!”

*Scroll past couple laughing at one another “candidly” on a trip to San Fran*

That’s cute.  Eye roll. Always thought I might end up with him… but they’re definitely 2 steps away from the alter.

Look around my newly furnished living room.

Lindsey, you’re living with a man. You weren’t gonna end up with *said Instagram crush* anyway.

That was high school.

Guess we’re getting old.

… an hour goes by.

And here I am, still on the couch – with my chipped nail polish. Smelly wedding arm pits. Melting iced coffee.

Feeling around on my PCOS chin acne.

And depressingly far into the Instagram hole.

… sound familiar?

I think a lot about social media – and what it does for mental health.

On the one hand, I’ve kept in touch with people because of it.

On the other side of that, I’ve had a tougher time letting people and memories go.

On the one side, I’ve connected with tons of people.

On the other, I feel constantly bombarded by opinions, snippets, images.

Always wrapped up in the moments of other lives.

Throw in the eating disorder vs recovery aspect and it’s a landfill of mental chaos.

How do we survive it?

We don’t so long as we choose to stay on social media. Let’s just make that clear.

But, what are ways we can begin to cope with social media and still keep our sanity?

We become watchdogs. For ourselves.

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Lolz. Get it. Watchdogs. (P.S. That’s my black pooch and our roomies pooch-)

Because what else can we do?

In turn, that means:

1.) Filtering who and what I follow: celebs, #FitFam & other influencers

 

I know Kim K and Beyonce and the entire cast of Real Housewives is enthralling to scroll past – but one of the most beneficial mental habits I made for myself when Instagram started to become the phenomenon that it is – was to only follow celebrities that weren’t going to make me feel like my life is less interesting, less beautiful, less meaningful.

It’s made a world of difference.

I don’t need to know what Kim K is doing every day. Nor if she lost the baby weight. Frankly, I don’t care. If something big happens in celeb world, I’m sure I’ll hear about it when I listen to morning news.

I’ll never understand why it’s so ingrained in humans to follow people/pages that leave us feeling like shit.

Does following #FitFam influencers with rock hard bods claiming that they “like eat {insert sugary food} all the time and totally just work out moderately” really make us feel better? Or does it ultimately just remind us that our bodies are all different? And in turn make us compare our bodies with theirs?

Does seeing someone eat one bite of a doughnut and claim to be in recovery, but still post questionably insensitive statements about weight – really help me in my own recovery?

I’m cynical, sure, but I question recovery influencers. I question me. I am human and I don’t always say things thoughtfully.

Just the other day I posted something about “lady tribes” then realized how inherently inappropriate that is and how I’m culturally appropriating.

Am I following people who stir up anger inside of me? Am I following people who rant and slur and complain about other groups of people to the point I’m mentally exhausted?

Are the people I’m following helping me to become a better, more thoughtful and considerate person?

Or are they leaving me on the couch, staring at the ceiling – feeling FOMO wondering “is my life meaningful?” “Why can’t I have a life like hers or his?”

I think, to some degree, we will always feel a little bit of the latter because that’s what social media is almost inherently meant to do – but I went through this morning, and I decided it was time to wave goodbye to any remaining fitness influencers that leave me staring harder at myself in the mirror after a shower.

2.) Conceptualizing what we see

Everything we see is a moment. Usually a staged one.

When we see cute snippets of a persons life – that is because they are choosing to share that snippet. Likely, because they know it’s cute and enticing.

Nothing wrong with it in my 2-cent opinion – but I also have to consider the reality that I’m not seeing that baby shriek at 3am. I don’t see the mundane of a relationship, like loading the dishwasher, documented on Instagram. And I don’t know what really is truly going on in anyone else’s life unless I ask them directly.

When someone is preaching at us about how to feel, how to work out, how to exist – I have to constantly remind myself ”this person takes shits too.”

When I see female friends of mine who are fashion bloggers, and constantly posting about bags I’ll never afford – I take a second, when that jealousy rears its ugly head, and I say “yeah yeah alright, Novalight (or some other name inserted here), you take shits just the same.”

And I frankly don’t need an expensive bag.

3.) Monitoring how long and what we’re scrolling.

 

Had this realization again today – “I am spending too much time on this for one morning.”

I also noticed that I always feel worse once I go off into the land of the “Explore” page.

My God, what a bloody witch trap.

I end up just seeing all these people living their big, snippet-size lives and I have this intense feeling of “I SHOULD BE DOING MORE. I SHOULD START MY BUSINESS NOW. WHY DON’T I HAVE MORE THINGS GOING ON FOR ME.”

That’s the point of our posts, right? To make others feel like we’re doing some cool shit in our lives.

So, instead of mindlessly scrolling the rest of today – I’ve stayed off. Read a book.

Checked for notifications and didn’t look at peoples stories.

I don’t need to know so and so ate at brunch, and I don’t need to see mimosas clinking together in a boomerang.

Most of the stuff we see – we really don’t need to see.

If it’s important – you’ll hear about it.

At the end of the day, we have to advocate for ourselves in our recovery as we meander through the shithole that is our online world.

I post only as honestly as one can when they share snippets of themselves online. But, in turn, even this little bit of honesty is often matched with other honesty, and helps me understand that people fret a lot like me.

They feel the same anxiety and FOMO and insecurity online as they scroll.

We’re all just humans here. Trying to make our lives matter.

So, in the spirit of transparency:

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^My partner and I dressed up for a wedding last night.

What you wouldn’t know is that we argued for 20 minutes prior to going about his stupid suit (I hate it.)

I have a massive PCOS chin acne bump right now that I tried to reduce swelling with a washcloth before we left.

And lastly, while we enjoyed ourselves ultimately, I wore heels that were WAY too high for me and I tripped repeatedly as we hiked down to the wedding ceremony. (LOLZ. VANITY.)

Tis life. A series of mishaps and fortune and pain and beauty.

Just gotta figure how to navigate it – one day at a time.

Please feel free to post your own helpful tips on surviving social media. Would love to hear.

4 thoughts on “#FitFam: Surviving Instagram With An Eating Disorder

  1. eleanoragturner

    I had to delete Instragram off of my phone completely, and it has helped me so much. I really don’t want to add it back into my life. Yes, I still follow the people’s content that I really enjoy on YouTube. But just like you said, Insta is TOO much all the time. Facebook, literally forget about that app. I realized how little I was really enjoying the content I looked at every single fucking day. I do miss posting my poetry on Insta, but now I have so much more time to just write.

  2. Thank you for this post Lindsey. I really relate.

    For me, I have had to delete both Instagram and Snapchat. Prior though when I would use Instagram, I made sure to only follow accounts that I knew would make me feel happy and not terrible after scrolling through my feed. So ultimately this meant I primarily followed scenic landscape, ice cream, and rabbit/puppy accounts. Same for twitter, I don’t follow actual people I know, only accounts I am interested in reading, find interesting, or are funny. If I want to see what my friends are up to, I can use Facebook (which, as this post exemplifies, still needs to be limited). But by cutting back on Instagram and Snapchat, I’ve found myself ultimately happier and comparing myself much less! This is just me, but maybe it would work for others also. 🙂

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