A couple of days ago I put a post on Facebook that was kind of emotional and raw. I knew exactly why I was feeling raw, my serotonin was low from a night of rolling during the weekend, but I still wanted to share. I feel like we don’t share our day-to-day negative emotions and experiences in a constructive way on social media, we always seem to either rant and rave about stuff or pretend that our entire world is perfect. We are afraid to be vulnerable and open, particularly when it comes to mental health. Whenever I roll I know that the mental health issues that I deal with under the surface are going to be more exposed, so instead of bottling them up I decided to share them with my network.
Getting feedback from friends and strangers (even when I specifically said I wasn’t looking for that) was both good and bad. I believe everyone that responded had the best intentions, but in some cases, an attempt to diagnose me seemed to be inappropriate unless they knew more about me than you could get from a Facebook post. I guess this is the nature of social media, though when you share a status people assume you want their thoughts on how to fix the “problem”. The general consensus was that I was dealing with imposter syndrome and/or depression, a diagnosis that I don’t completely disagree with. One person also tried to convert me to their religion (I think), which I am sure was well-intentioned because they gain strength from their faith, but it was clear they didn’t know me very well. Just because something (religion, meditation, therapy, etc) is helpful for one person doesn’t mean it is a panacea for another person, if you are going to give someone advice it is best to know something more about that person than just a rant you read on Facebook.
The feedback that I found most helpful came from people who reached out in a personal message to share love and support, instead of posting something public. Those messages felt sincere and I was much more inclined to enter into a conversation and open up. It was through those private conversations that I really had a few epiphanies about my situation and the anxiety I’ve been feeling under the surface the last couple of weeks.
I don’t think depression or impostor syndrome is the right overall diagnosis for me, even if I display some of those symptoms. I think my biggest issue recently is that I’ve been relatively successful at the things I’ve tried and I don’t see any challenges on the horizon. My job is going well, my body is at a health level that I am satisfied with, my book is in the final edit phase, my relationship is great, and my life is pretty damn secure. I know how shitty it is to sound like I’m complaining about success, but for me, struggle is necessary to feel satisfied and happy. I need a challenge and for most of my life, the primary challenge was survival and security. I was stuck on the bottom layers of Maslow’s Hierarchy that now that I have moved up I don’t know how to handle it. I keep feeling like I should sabotage myself so that I have a struggle again.
I don’t really want that, though. I don’t want to worry about paying my bills or whether I’m killing myself with what I eat. I need to move the things I strove for from the “goal” part of my day to the “daily practice and maintenance” part of my day, and I need to find new goals, hobbies, and passions. I don’t know where to start, though.
I am playing around with the idea of writing a new book or starting a podcast, and there are a handful of little skills that I’d like to learn, and maybe I can find some artistic outlets. I also really need to get outside and meet people, working from home traps me inside a lot of the time and it is difficult to make friends in a new town. I need some social hobbies or volunteer work or sports, but man, taking that first step and hanging out with strangers is super anxiety-inducing for me.
I’m going to try, though. I don’t want my new life in Wilmington and the new year to go to waste. This transition is tough, but hopefully, I can make it without backsliding too much.