You Are Enough // How To Combat Comparison

You know the drill. It’s inching towards 1am on a Wednesday night and you can’t get to sleep, so you open up your Instagram and start the scroll. Ah, the endless scroll through unlimited posts. It’s here that our anxiety pops up and thinks, look at all these people having fun, or getting engaged, married, having kids. Why am I not on that same path? Or why don’t I look that beautiful? 

Comparison is a curse. Unforgiving and overflowing with doubt and insecurity, our mental health feeds off of it. Society tells us we have to be on one, certain path. Whether it’s men or women: date, fall in love, get married, have kids and die. 

But, what is that’s not everyone’s path? Does that mean you aren’t succeeding? Absolutely not. Comparing cars, houses, jobs, money, and relationships is destructive to your own growth.

How do we stop this toxic cycle? Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way:

 

Stop with the social media 

Comparing starts on social media. While you might have begun your social escape liking photos of puppies or pins, you usually always end up seeing something that triggers comparison.

Whether it’s a friend humble bragging about her new business, engagement, or pregnancy, that ping of jealousy and panic sets in immediately. How is she so successful and I’m not? What is she doing that I can’t? And ultimately:

I’m not good enough. 

When you’re feeling insecure on social media, remember that people normally don’t post about the bad parts of life. On Instagram and Facebook, we are never seeing the whole story. Yes, mental health bloggers tend to open up and show both sides of emotion on social media, but this is not the case with most. So, instead of putting your complete self-worth into the post of someone else’s, remember that you’re only seeing the most polished pieces.

Someone’s success is not your failure

Don’t play that comparison game. Not everyone’s path looks the same, so it’s essential to remember that your friend from high school getting engaged, or your sister getting that promotion does not mean your opportunity or future success has been taken away – your time will come. 

Whenever I feel comparison brewing, I refer to this wonderful quote:

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Your day will still come around, so instead of giving into those feelings of jealousy and spite, feel happy for them.

 

Compare yourself to yourself 

Instead of comparing yourself to others, create the habit of comparing yourself to yourself. Focus on how much you’ve grown, what you have achieved and what progress you have made towards your goals.

When we shift our attention within, it creates gratitude, appreciation, and kindness towards yourself. Give yourself some props – what you’ve gone through matters.

Remind yourself of what you have 

With endless vacation photos to Thailand, and perfectly Pinterest wedding photography, it can start to seem like everyone is doing something with their lives but you.

I’ve found the best way to combat comparison is to take a moment and write down have you do have. What you’re proud of accomplishing. Use your energy to focus on what you’ve built for your own life, it will force that comparing to fade.

 

At the end of the day, we don’t need to be accepted by others – we must accept ourselves. 

The only way to climb out of the hole of comparison is to direct our attention within. When we are happy with our own accomplishments, those feelings of comparison won’t emerge.

So, it’s like the band Jimmy Eat World says,

“Live right now, just be yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.”

 

 

 

How do you combat comparison? Share your comments below! 

Handling Heartbreak With Anxiety

Recently, I wrote an article for Inpathy Bulletin about dealing with a breakup with anxiety, and it made me realize that I haven’t dedicated a post to handling heartbreak. Now that I’ve had a few weeks to distance myself from the more intense emotion and pain that comes directly after a breakup, I feel comfortable talking about it in depth.

Although it’s become clear by now, a few weeks ago my ex boyfriend broke up with me. The reasons were scattered, but in the end it came down to this: he just couldn’t come with me. By this, I mean he wasn’t the right match to go down the same road I’m on in my own mental health journey. While that’s hard to accept, it’s something I must. Like myself, he has issues and they just became too much to handle, so it was time to part ways.

Most people think breakups are the stuff of sad songs and romantic comedies, but in reality it’s a visceral and sometimes even suffocating pain to end a relationship in which you’ve most likely invested all of your emotional energy. Cue anxiety, depression, and other mental illness and it can be almost impossible to breathe.

Healing a broken heart is difficult for anyone, but for those of us who are constantly battling mental illness, it can cause us to question our self worth or even trigger. While this is not my first breakup, each one comes with its very own set of memories, which in the beginning, can be painful to relive. Even though I did not feel like anything was my fault during the breakup, it can be easy for anxiety to latch onto such a traumatic event and start to poke at your self worth with thoughts of whether this is your fault or you could have done something differently: maybe he/she would have stayed if….

Stop that thought process before it turns into a spiral. As someone who is hyper sensitive, I see you and feel that pain wholeheartedly. Fear the stress of this breakup could lead to a breakdown? Here are some tips I’ve learned while navigating my heartbreak.

Take Care of Yourself

Healing always starts with self care. No matter the form of loss, you must nurture your emotions and heart. Whether that means going to bed early, taking a day off to lounge on the couch, of reading your favorite book for the 20th time, do what you need to do to soothe your mind, body, and soul.

While you used to have someone to take care of you all the time, now you don’t. That person is gone but it doesn’t mean you stop the care. You are always first priority, relationship or not.

Feel It Out

If you want to cry, cry. If you feel like screaming, whip out a pillow and do the damage. Feeling relieved, or even happy? Don’t bottle those emotions up. Meet them, don’t feel guilty for having happy moments – it doesn’t diminish the time you had together. 

It’s okay to not be okay, which is something we hear a lot in this community. More recently, I’ve learned that it’s also okay to be angry. Anger is an emotion I’ve always had trouble with, so it’s important to feel all the range of emotions. It will help you move on in a healthy way.

Learn to Let Go

Change is a bitch. No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to shake her. Grieving is random, it comes in waves but you have to learn to let it go. We struggle to accept loss. We constantly fight reality and avoid the truth of the situation: they aren’t a part of our lives anymore. Try not to dwell on what could have been, or if you should have done something differently because in the end, it happened how it happened. You can’t control it. If you find yourself spiraling and ruminating, write it down. Battle with reality.

Protect Your Emotions

While we have to let our emotions, I truly believe that it’s important to protect those hyper sensitive souls from trivial things that will only cause suffering. A good example is social media. In the aftermath of a breakup, social media is toxic. It’s a space where – in a way – you can still be in each other’s lives without actually speaking. If it’s too triggering to see your ex over social media, unfollow. Unfriend. Block. Whatever you need to do, do it so you can be in a safe space and move forward.

Little things will hurt the most. Although I’ve been in a much better place lately, something small crept up on me and brought me to tears. I was lugging something gigantic up the stairs to my studio and while my neighbor was coming down, he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “you dropped this.” I looked down and the keychain my ex boyfriend got me had broken off my keyring. While it’s trivial, it still really hurts. It’s a memory. Even though it’s a sweet one, it’s painful right now. I let myself feel the sadness, and afterwards I realized it was a sign. It needed to go. Time to shed that memory in order to create new ones.

Lean On Your People

Although you must deal with grief and loss at your own pace – there is no set timeline for moving on – there are plenty of people who understand what you’re going through. Let them help. Yes, you must deal with this emotionally on your own, but support is healthy too. In the first few days after my breakup, I had an outpouring of support from close friends and family. Sometimes it can be unexpected, but it can help ease anxiety to know you have a support system who is on your side – no matter what you’re feeling.

 

I will leave you with this quote from Becca Lee, an inspiring poet who beautifully states the true purpose of pain:

“So often we associate pain with darkness because that is how it tends to feel – all-encompassing, overwhelming and never-ending. But pain is not sent into our lives to drown us; pain illuminates the parts of us that need our attention and it makes us acutely aware of the parts that are broken, hurt and sore. Not so that we may suffer, but so we may heal and grow. So that we may give our wounds the love, care and treatment they so desperately need and deserve. Pain shows us where we do not want to be. It holds up the parts of our lives that are not aligned with our spirit and soul and creates discomfort so as to bring about the desire to change. Our pain moves us towards the light, towards who we truly are – but only if we are brave enough to look beyond the darkness and allow it to do so.”

The aftermath of heartbreak is intense. That pain is real. The sorrow is real. Your anxiety invading your mind, telling you you aren’t good enough or how you could have done better, is not. Breathe, and remember these feelings won’t break you – they can only make you stronger. Move towards the light, towards who you truly are. 

Everyday, I get closer and closer to my true self. If you’re suffering from a broken heart, I hope you realize it’s not your fault, and that real change can come from this. Be patient with yourself – grow from the pain. 

 

 

How do you handle heartbreak with anxiety? Share your tips or stories! 

Works in Progress // Nay Clarke

For Men’s Health Month, I’m beyond stoked – and proud – to bring you the first male Works in Progress story! Truly a silent crisis, men face just as much stigma – if not more – when battling mental illness. More than four times as many men as women die by suicide in the U.S. and due to social norms, are less likely to seek help for their struggle. Men are taught that showing emotion is weakness.

You are not less of a man for having a mental illness. 

Fighting against the stigma surrounding mental health in males, Nay Clarke is on a mission to show each and every person just how unique and necessary they are. Healing thousands through the power of his words, Clarke takes to his Instagram as a form of therapy, expression, and empowerment.

Meet Nay Clarke.

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Photo by @oliverpayne_

 

Name: Nay Clarke

Age: 20

Explain the origin of your mental health issues i.e., what is your mental health issue, how did you realize what was happening, how was it affecting your everyday life at the time?

I was diagnosed with depression and bipolar tendencies, but I always knew there was more to it. I continued to seek help until recently being diagnosed with schizophrenia. It used to affect me day to day, meeting up with friends was always a problem because I could, and still can, easily change mood so I didn’t want it to affect them too. It then seeped into my work life, speaking to co-workers was difficult because I always thought they didn’t understand me at the time…a month passed and I finally left the workplace which is one of the best things I’ve ever done!

What was the resounding moment when you decided to get help? What made you do it?

I think the moment I decided to get help was not long after leaving my job. I would hear voices in the workplace that weren’t there. It was a horrible experience I’d face far too often. After trying to stay “strong” as a male figure should – as society says – I decided to go to my doctor and it was a terrible experience!! To anyone reading this, do NOT get put off if you are dismissed as “fine” at your doctor. I had to move surgeries and finally got referred to the right place – never stop pushing for the correct help. 

How does it affect your everyday life now? Challenges? What skills have you learned to cope?

I face challenges daily, some days I don’t even want to leave my bed, let alone my room. I don’t like going to busy places where there are loads of different voices like restaurants or shopping centers because it sparks further voices in my head to start (draining I know). I still try to go now and again, as I don’t want my mental health issues to control my life. What helps me personally is expressing my thoughts on a daily basis. Once the thoughts are out and gone, I can move on – that’s why I post most of it on Instagram. It was just a huge bonus that a lot of people feel the same as me and we can all help each other.

How has living with this mental illness benefited your life? What has it given you? 

It’s benefited my life in many different ways. First off, I’d say it’s made me learn and understand more about my self, which I think everyone should do. I’ve spoken to many amazing people from social media who have helped me along this journey and I’d like to think I have helped them too. Knowing I play a part in ending the stigma around mental health issues is what puts a smile on my face. I will never ever get bored of hundreds of people messaging me saying thank you for being so open. What they don’t realize is that I should be the one thanking them because that’s what keeps me somewhat stable.

What is one piece of advice you would give yourself when you were struggling the most with your mental illness? 

I would simply say, “chill bro, you don’t realize how much this test is going to change your life in the most amazing way.”

I strongly believe “what’s meant to be will always be.” Cliché I know, but so, so true. To anyone that is reading this and facing issues of their own, I just want to say: you are strong! 

You are one-of-a-kind and most of all you are AMAZING! No matter how hard life seems at the moment…everything will fall into place.

 

Do you want to share your mental health story? Leave a comment about your journey and you could be featured! 

Unplugged: What I Discovered From A Day Without Social Media

Last night, I was scrolling through Facebook and came upon an article from The Mighty titled, “Researchers Say Instagram Is the ‘Worst App’ for Your Mental Health.” Ironic that I found this article while aimlessly wandering around social media, but it struck a nerve with me.

In the article, it states that Instagram has “the highest negative affect on well-being – increasing anxiety, depression, and self-identity and body image issues for young people ages 14 to 24.” Regardless of these stats, Instagram is an app with more than 700 million users and can be used with both good and bad intentions.

With all this information, I decided to challenge myself. I would go an entire day without using any social media and see what it did for my anxiety and mental health. Starting from the moment I woke up at 6:40 this morning, to currently writing this blog post at 6:00 this evening – I haven’t opened an app, scrolled through any feed or put a heart on any photo.

Here’s what I discovered from avoiding social media:

I’m much more present. 

Without the ability to escape into some form of social media during the day, I was forced to be. Just be in the moment more. For the first few hours of my workday, I found myself reaching for my phone randomly when there was a lull, because I normally scroll through Instagram as a tiny break. When I resisted that, I discovered that I was able to sit and just be where I was right then. Content.

I stopped comparing. 

This was a big one. Honestly, this was the biggest part of why I think Instagram is terrible for mental health. Part of anxiety that’s toxic is comparing yourself to others. This is an app that breeds comparison. Because I wasn’t constantly checking Instagram, seeing how others were potentially doing “more interesting” things, I found I could feel more confident about my day. When it’s not being compared to anything else – that is likely not reality to begin with – you feel secure.

When I got bored or started to overthink, I found a more healthy way of distraction. 

Let’s face it – sometimes your mind gets bored. When I had downtime or started to ruminate, I listened to a podcast I’m currently obsessed with, talked to one of my coworkers, or took a short walk outside. While some social media is very open and helpful when overthinking, it felt so much more effective and tangible to use these different ways of distraction.

 

By the end of the day, I realized that I put entirely too much emotion into my phone. From texting to Instagram, I’ve always read too much into each post or text and placed my own value into whether I heard back or got enough likes or comments. It’s a toxic game to play and removing myself from it – even just for a day – gave me a lot of introspection and mindfulness. I am enough – I don’t need 10, 100, or even 1,000 likes to validate that. Also, it doesn’t matter what others are doing, it matters what I’m doing right now. The less you focus on how others are living their lives, the more you gain for your mental health.

It went so well, I may actually ween myself from the amount I use my social media for the future.

Does social media have an affect on your anxiety? What are your thoughts?