Outside of the social media box

Emma Louise Cheetham by Emma Louise Cheetham Additional Needs

Emma Louise Cheetham

Emma Louise Cheetham

I live in Stockport, UK. I have Borderline Personality Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. After years of therapy and getting back on my fee...

We live in a world that is dominated by social media. If you walk through the town centre, you’re likely to see people glued to their phones.

They’ll be on Facebook or Twitter, WhatsApp or Snapchat. There are many advantages to social media. One of these being that we are able to stay in touch with family and friends like never before, for free.

There are also many disadvantages.

Social media is in fact making us a lot less social.

Yes, we may talk more than ever over the phone or message but so many times I’ve seen groups of young people sat in a restaurant or on the bus, tapping away on their phones instead of talking to one another.

I’m guilty for it too. I rarely have my phone out of my hand.

Another disadvantage I find is that people are able to paint a picture of their perfect lives with their perfect homes, perfect jobs, perfect children, perfect partners, perfect everything.

We are able to keep track of people’s lives with just a few quick clicks. A scroll through Facebook one evening can quickly lead us to fall into a compare and despair trap.

That’s because the majority of us on social media only share the best parts; the smiles, the fun, the carefree moments, the glamour shots.

The world doesn’t see the sadness, the meltdowns, the arguments, the days when it feels like everything is going wrong.

But then we see their good days, we compare them with our bad days and it can leave us feeling sad, depressed even. Social media has the potential to make us depressed.

When somebody has a baby, most of the time they flood Facebook with pictures of their newborn.

Their partner might write a status to officially welcome their newborn to the world, after all are they even officially here if they haven’t had a Facebook introduction?

The partner may say how the mother did amazing, how they were in awe of her strength and determination to bring this precious bundle of perfection safely into the world.

There may be a picture of this innocent little human, dressed in a cute little outfit whose life is just about to begin.

The status will be inundated with comments of congratulations and compliments of how beautiful the baby is. Then a day or two later the family go home together to begin the next chapter of their life.

But what happens when things don’t go according to plan?

What happens when the baby isn’t born healthily? What if there are serious complications? Or what if the baby is born sleeping?

One and two were what happened to us. If I’d gone to hospital just an hour later, it would’ve been number three.

I, like many others had already done the big Facebook announcement with the scan pictures months earlier.

All of the 500+ people on my friends list were aware of my impending arrival.

I was receiving messages on a daily basis. “Is he here yet?” “Any sign?” “Come on baby we’re all so excited to meet you!” I was a week overdue so it was obvious his arrival was imminent.

I was updating almost every single day letting everybody know how tired I was and telling Jaxon it was time to come out, as if he was able to log on from the womb and take that as his cue to leave.

I never envisioned my first Facebook update after the birth of Jaxon would include the words “broken”, “nightmare”, “starved of oxygen”, “brain damage”, “seizures” and “bleak”.

I never imagined that the comments we would receive would include the words “heartbreaking”, “sorry”, “crying”, “gutted” and “awful”.

But that was pretty much how it went.

I wasn’t ticking all the typical social media boxes, instead I was broken hearted wishing I could be like everybody else.

Since becoming unwell with my mental health and subsequently being diagnosed with a personality disorder a number of years ago, I decided to be more open in the hope that my story could inspire others to change their lives for the better like I did.

When I set up a page to post updates about Jaxon on Facebook I decided it would be no different.

I was stepping outside of the social media box. I would show anybody who was interested what life is really like caring for a child with complex needs on a daily basis.

The ups and the downs. I find strength in numbers.

If I’m feeling less alone, my feelings are validated and I know it’s okay.

It makes things more bearable and I find it easier to carry on despite how much this journey might smash through my resilience and spirit. If I can help others to feel comforted by sharing the ups and more importantly, the downs, of our experiences then it’s so worthwhile.

So next time you’re scrolling through Facebook, feeling melancholy because it seems everybody has a fantastic life, a million times better than yours; remember that chances are they don’t.

Just like you they have bad days too. You just don’t always recognise it because you only see what they choose to show.

Take what you read on Facebook or Twitter with a pinch of salt. After all, social media only paints a tiny picture of real life.

 

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