You don’t have to look far to find articles on how social media and technology is impacting society, our wellbeing and our children’s behaviours. I’ve always been very strict with Beau, wanting to protect him from the negative side of technology. Especially when he was younger phones were completely banned from being used in front of him. I have slackened a little since then and realised the impracticalities of running a business and trying to hide my phone usage from him. I’ve also seen the benefits of times it has saved us in the supermarket as we play Blippi educational videos for him!
What I never really gave too much thought to was how much technology was impacting me and my own wellbeing. I already had some good habits with my phone and technology to protect myself. If me and Fabian have a movie night on the sofa, I tend to take both our phones and put them at the other side of the room. I don’t like sitting next to each other and ignoring the other person, that’s when technology can impact relationships and lead to breakdowns when communication with each other is key. I do try quite often to not have television on all day too, enjoying the peace and quiet and trying to focus on engaging with hobbies instead. I do try to also not sit on my phone just before bed although this doesn’t always stick, I have to admit!
Recently however I noticed a change in my own thought patterns. I’ve been thinking a lot about pursuing writing as a career and growing my blog. Seems positive enough right? The only problem is in the process I have managed to lose myself a bit and why I actually started this blog in the first place. I had started to focus so much on growth that each day the first thing I would do is check how many followers I had on Instagram, and then I’d spend hours liking and commenting on other posts, hoping to engage more followers. I wasn’t being fake, I did genuinely mean every comment and like I did however it had become my sole focus. I realised I was becoming stressed and consumed.
I am glad I am in a place where I now notice when my mental health is deteriorating and this was one of those occasions. So I started setting myself rules. When I woke up on a morning all I could use my phone for was contacting Fabian and checking the time. I knew I needed to pull back on Instagram and focus more on me. I really think it says a lot about a person with what they do as soon as they wake up. Especially since losing Silver I know the value of family and I can’t tell you what a difference it has made to my mood that my mornings now consist of Beau snuggles and reading stories in bed. Most mornings he wakes up and comes straight into our bedroom for cuddles and brings his favourite books from the landing.
Another thing I had noticed was how I was filtering my photo’s that I was sharing. Being pregnant and wanting to cherish every moment I of course wanted to take bump photos. There is however one part of my body I have always struggled with. My chin. Sounds a bit odd but yes, I’ve always felt self-conscious of it and was even told when I was pregnant with Beau how I had put on weight in my face, not exactly a confidence booster. The problem is, I had a trapped nerve so couldn’t lose all the weight afterwards before becoming pregnant again with Silver and then Leilani. I have a memory from Silver’s pregnancy that particularly stands out to me. See the picture below? It’s a pretty Christmas bump picture, right? Well many tears went into that photo. I cried when I saw the initial pictures Fabian took and had to redo them with my hair covering my chin. I wanted to treasure every moment with Silver but felt so ashamed of how I looked.
More and more recently it had started to consume me even more. I wanted to share bump photos on Instagram and my blog but always wanted to cry seeing the pictures. We were taking maybe fifty photo’s to just find one that I was happy with and I was starting to get down during the day too thinking about it. I would compare myself with others online and became my own biggest bully. In my eyes it was better to hide my face than to edit and distort my face with software, so at least technically I wasn’t cheating or changing anything. I am pleased to say however that I have realised this is a problem. Fabian has spoken with my mental health worker and she is making plans to do some work with me on this topic. I’ve also received support from a good friend who has overcome body confidence issues and hopefully with the right support I can tackle this problem before it escalates to something more serious.
Since becoming a parent I have learnt just how important it is to love yourself and be kind to yourself. Especially since Silver I have now come to accept most of the parts of my body I maybe didn’t love before, I rarely wear makeup now at all. Because I know if she had grown up a healthy little girl I would have been horrified if there was an external factor making her want to hide her face with makeup for fear of judgement and I would have hated it if she felt the need to undergo potentially life threatening procedures to look a certain way. We are always good at giving advice and not so great at taking it, we are always kinder to others than ourselves. I have realised I need to learn to be kind to myself at times when I want to tell myself I’m a bad mum or a failure because of my health problems and I am slowly working on learning to love my body.
The reason however I really wanted to write this blog and share my experience is just what a difference it has made to my wellbeing in the last week where my phone has been completely broke. Perhaps I should briefly explain why my phone was broke. Recently there has been a lot of stress within our lives. Me and Fabian have both really started struggling with our grief, we are in the process of a PIP tribunal, Beau has been very unsettled and not sleeping and I recently got diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It has unfortunately led to an increase in friction and a rapid deterioration in my mental wellbeing. I had a very traumatic experience at court last week at my PIP tribunal which led to an intense breakdown where my phone inevitably got thrown at the wall.
I must add here that every time I have in the past broken a phone and needed a new one it has been due to throwing it during a mental breakdown. The disappointing thing is that recently I have been coping much better and using more constructive ways of dealing with these overwhelming feelings without throwing items (especially valuable ones) and without self-harm. Unfortunately, the stress that had been building up got the better of me and for the first time in a very long time I threw my phone as hard as I could at the bedroom wall. Unfortunately, despite the outside visibly looking okay the internal screen was completely broke. You could see the cracks and it was completely black.
Initially I was beating myself up so badly, I was a failure after all. I had allowed other people to affect my wellbeing in such a way that I was now in a financial predicament of fixing or replacing my phone. I was especially frustrated since the reason I am in debt was due to my PIP appeal and how long it was taking to resolve. I was absolutely devastated that despite not losing any photos at all I did lose all the notes from my old phone, where recently for the first time in a long time I had wrote a poem. It was a poem about my beautiful little girl and I am devastated to have lost this. As the title of this blog suggests however, there was actually a positive that came from this incident too. I now was forced to live without a phone which I had become so dependent on and had been allowing it to impact my daily living so much. I was forced to look at myself and where I am in my life right now whilst contemplating where I would like to be.
I soon realised there was only two reasons I truly missed my phone over the last week. I found it frustrating that I never knew what time it was. I don’t like to wear watches and rely heavily on my phone as a clock and alarm. The second reason was for the lack of emergency contact. We do have a house phone so during the day it wasn’t too much of an issue, I could still call Fabian at work quite easily. The problem I had was when we left the house. I never go anywhere alone but sometimes in shops Fabian might have to run off because Beau is trying to run riot. So we did have a couple incidents where I was left alone with no phone and had a panic attack!
Apart from that though and the occasional missed photo opportunity I realised how much I loved me time again. I was spending more time focussed on family, getting housework done instead of procrastinating and I actually did things I enjoy! My mood has improved drastically and I can’t tell you how nice it is to not be anxiously checking a device every few minutes and forever staring at a screen. It literally feels like my eyes have been opened. I have taken the time to sit and look around at the things I do have and realise what things I want to work on/ towards. I am so thankful for the little boy I have running around and all the luxuries within my home. Even the fact I am a home owner is such an achievement and I feel so lucky to know what I have been able to provide for my children, a detached, spacious family home. It was something I always wanted, having had that upbringing myself but truly I never believed it would be a reality for my own children.
I have found myself feeling much more focused and motivated again too. I had lost some motivation and was starting to doubt blogging and writing. I had become so focussed on quantity whereas now I have had the time to reflect on why I started. The clue is in the name, this was meant to be for my little girl Silver Rose, My Journey With Silver Rose. She was my inspiration and where I drew my strength from, remembering how strong and brave she was. I now feel I know where I am going with my blog again and exactly what I want to write about. I guess I also lost myself a bit because sometimes I do find it easier to cope with the grief if I don’t focus on Silver and don’t think about her as much as I would maybe like. In this past week however she has been a topic of conversation that me and Fabian have both started opening up about and it feels good to remember our little girl and all the special moments we had with her.
I really advise people to keep something on their phone similar to the images I’ve shared below of what I keep on my phone and think we all need to remember to be human. We all need to step away from the filtered world, the world we see through a screen and instead of looking at beautiful autumnal pictures why not take a walk through a beautiful woodland area? Embrace the fresh air and the sounds of wildlife and nature that surround you. Or if you’re a recluse a bit like me and maybe can’t do those things, or at least not easily or alone then maybe find a hobby that truly lights your spark? I have loved writing my blogs but at one point it did start to feel like a chore, so I’m now being more selective and only writing about what I’m truly passionate about, turning it back into a hobby. I’ve also loved the fact in the last week I have started to crochet silver mickey heads ready to decorate our tree this Christmas with our little girl in mind.
I really wanted to share this journey with you guys because I think we are all so truly guilty of being absorbed into a culture which makes us unhappy and in the extreme cases, unwell. I noticed I was starting to become unwell through the influences of social media and I’m so thankful for this eye opener and feel a little bit more myself again. I have since bought a new phone, on this occasion the credit card came to the rescue and although at first I felt guilty for the cost of the phone I have even managed to not be so hard on myself and trust me, this phone will not be getting thrown at any walls no matter how crazy I’m feeling! I will be setting some rules with this phone too with a priority of limited usage and limited wasted time looking at other people’s lives. Life is short, sometimes shorter than we expect or are prepared for. Don’t waste it behind a screen.
Until next time,