The Masks Of Social Media
I’m not one to talk about my private life online. If I do, it’s a controlled version of what I want you to know. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with deciding to selectively sharing what goes on in one’s personal life, online. I haven’t really talked about my head injury on here before. While I do not wish to discuss what happened, today I would like to address something that has been building for a while. As most of you know, back in October I sustained a severe head injury. I had to put my entire life on hold and give up the things and activities that once brought me joy. Lately, people’s attitude towards me has changed, and it hurts. Normally I wouldn’t pay attention to this because people are always going to talk. They will always find something negative to complain about and point out flaws. This weekend was the final straw. There are quite a few people who have reached out to tell me how my injury has hurt them. While that was never an intention or a goal of mine, I do wish to say something to anyone feeling this way, so I have decided to write to you here. During my time of healing, I have realized a few things. One being how many toxic/ unhealthy people were in my life, and how an idea I had of them was not actually who they are. The second being, how I have the opportunity to take an awful situation and find positivity in it. This is a lot easier said than done, trust me.
I have found social media to be an incredibly inspiring thing for me. I unfollowed an insane amount of people months ago and cleansed what kind of information and people I was allowing into my feed/ life. However, there are people who do not see my positivity as a good thing during this season, and this is what I have to say about it:
I am appalled how certain individuals think it is okay to victimize themselves with my head injury. I do not doubt their life was altered by me not being able to volunteer or work alongside of them, and that makes me sad. What I have found that people do not realize is, I do not have to be laying in a hospital bed hooked up to machines, to still be in recovery. To some, it may appear I am “back to the old Macaila” because I’m easing into work, fulfilling brand partnerships and creating fun content. While I am doing those things and posting about the fun time I have had doing “XYZ”, the part I have not publicly shared is the difficulty of achieving those things. While it is never my intention to leave anyone out or make them feel as if I have outgrown them, there is an entire portion of my life hidden from the world. Online I haven’t shared how horrible the first few months of my injury were and how I’d sleep 15-20 hours per day. I never shared how difficult it was for me to complete simple tasks like basic self care. I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand in the shower. I would have to sit down. I couldn’t bend down to put my pants on- my mom had to help me get dressed. It was incredibly difficult for me because I know I am able to do those things and going from being 100% dependable on myself, to someone else made me feel as if I was not good enough and I was embarrasses and frustrated. On top of it, I realized something new every day I could not do, as I could before, and it was incredibly defeating. I couldn’t grocery shop because the isles were too overwhelming for my eyes and head. I still can’t drive at night time because the lights from stop lights are too contrasting with the dark night sky.
I didn’t share how my anxiety was ruling my life. I didn’t share how scared I was to have foot surgery under local anesthesia as opposed to a normal operation and “going under”. I didn’t share how scared I was and how I cried almost every day because I worried I would never have the opportunity to partake in the hobbies I once loved so much. I was fired from my full-time job and scared I wouldn’t be a good enough employee again. I was scared my head injury would define me. I was scared because I didn’t feel like myself. I was scared because people didn’t understand how I could look pretty and put together yet feel an incredible amount of pain both physically and emotionally.
I never shared with you all of the things I couldn’t do. Trust me, I wrote it out. Two pages full, front and back of the limitations caused by this injury. I chose not to share those “icky” moments because I was living them and I want my social media to be an outlet where I can look back on my life a year from now and remember all of the good things that have occurred over the course of my life, and during such a painful time. April was an amazing month for me. It was the month I actually saw improvements. From the moment I sustained the injury, I have had a constant headache. However, there was a day in April where this changed and the pain began to let up. I can now finally say I have headache-free days. While on average I still have 3-4 headache days per week, I am making progress. While I am still dealing with my headaches, whiplash, vision struggles, and anxiety, to name a few, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to participate in some of the things I was doing pre-injury. While I am not where I want to be yet medically, I have found social media to be a nice break- almost like a vacation from the 7 (yes, SEVEN!) physical therapies and a reminder that someday when I am fully healed I can travel and resume some of the plans I made last autumn.
As I mentioned, this weekend was a tipping point. I received many hurtful messages and people have told me how posting online has hurt them. Again, I would never intentionally inflict pain on someone else and it saddens me someone is feeling this way. However, I am not going to apologize for smiling, telling jokes, and surrounding myself with positivity, and I hope you can understand after I have shared a bit more about what I’ve been going through. I wasn’t just injured. My life changed drastically. I lost almost all of my friends, my church was silent and turned their backs, when I needed someone to walk alongside me and reassure me I am going to be okay. I ask that while you are sitting here complaining and gossiping about my “commitment issues” and “over exaggerated injury”, to please remember most of you are unaware of what it is like to have a head injury. It is incredibly frustrating having to turn down invitations to parties, concerts and get-togethers. I want nothing more than to be able to go out without my head hurting and feeling dizzy or my vision changes. I am saddened and tired of people thinking it is acceptable to make snide comments and yell at me for putting my health first. It does not feel great to be on the receiving end of hate messages and voicemails. Ripping me apart is not going to solve any animosity you may have. The truth is, as happy as I may have appeared over the past 6 months online, a majority of my time was spent feeling lonely. The people I thought were my friends no longer are, and I’m not sharing this with you so you can pity me. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I want everyone to realize that social media does not accurately portray one’s life. It certainly hasn’t accurately portrayed mine.
The past month or two, I have started to feel better and eased back into work, which has lead to a newfound hate towards me. I refuse to apologize for finding the slightest amount of joy in a season that has been pure chaos, pain and infused with bad news. What you may not realize is anyone can look good in a photo. Deciding to wear makeup and a cute outfit may mask the fact I am not feeling well, but it does not take away the pain. What I didn’t share on social media was me throwing up at photo shoots, not being able to walk in a straight line because I was so dizzy, the woman at the grocery store who confronted me about looking like a drug addict because I haven’t slept well in months, and every time I tried to fall asleep I would wake up from how bad my headaches were. And to those who have heard this message before, I am going to boldly say this: you would understand and know a sliver of what has been going on if you bothered to reach out. But because you didn’t, you do not get to turn the tables. Not once have you bothered to ask how I am doing. Not once did you bother coming over to pray with me. Not once did you offer to drive me to one of my physical therapy appointments. Not once did you think to drop off a meal for me. Not once did you ask to come over and sit with me to keep me company. Not once did you think of me. Instead, you made my head injury about you. I did not abandon or ignore you, nor did I betray you, and I truly hope you know this.
To those saying I did something bad by taking a medical leave, I hope you can see my injury in a new light and make it less about you. I don’t regret not reaching out to you, because I was taking care of myself. I do not feel bad about putting myself first, nor should anyone else. I believe if someone has a problem with me taking care of myself and finding happiness, that says more about their character than mine. We don’t need to unscrew someone else’s lightbulb in order to shine.
At the end of the day, we are supposed to be a community: lifting each other up, showering others with love and walking alongside those who need support. We should not be hating and tearing each other apart. So, friends, I urge you to take a step back. No matter how wonderful you think someone’s life is online I can 100% guarantee they are dealing with something they are not sharing online. I ask that you please be more mindful and accepting towards others who are in a season of struggle. Please don’t assume that because they are out and about, they are ignoring you or “all better”. Take me for example, I have a doctor’s order to start working out again and building strength. I have to have my two training sessions on Monday and Friday’s because physically I am so exhausted. I need the days in-between to sleep and for not only my body but my mind to rest. I’m not able to do things or bounce back from simple things like a 30-minute low impact workout like a “normal” non injured person is able to.
I would like to say one last thing, and I mean this with kindness and say it with a loving heart: don’t allow social media to monopolize your opinion on others. Reach out to that person you’re thinking of and ask how they are. A true friend reaches out to those in all season’s of life, not just the happy and positive ones.
You no longer have power over me.
P.S. Thanks DYI Leggings for these awesome leggings. Stoked for y'all to see how else I style them for the gym! #ad