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Why I'm Leaving Social Media as Someone With Chronic Illness

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Last night I took the plunge to disconnect from our “over-connected” social media world. Scratch that, I jumped off the cliff!

I’ve done a social media detox, shut off my notifications, and made the list as to how social media needs to be in my life. However, tonight during my meditation I had the realization I need to cut these sources out once and for all! (Confession: After much thought, I’m still on Instagram because I absolutely love taking photos and its an artistic outlet.)

As I type this article I can see the mouths drop, heads shaking, the lists being created on why staying connected to social media is helpful for individuals living with chronic illnesses.

So before I move on, here are the top three reasons I’m thankful for social media:

1. A secret Facebook group is how my mom and I kept family and friends up to date during my most recent surgery.

2. Funny Snapchats from your brother always make long wait times more bearable.

3. Seeing adorable photos of my little cousins makes any bad day 1,000 times better.

At any age there are unique struggles one developmentally faces as a result of also living with a chronic medical condition(s). Just like I don’t believe it is kind to compare pain levels to one another, it wouldn’t be fair for me to say that there is a particular age which makes living with a chronic illness more challenging. That being said, I’ve going to be speaking from the perspective of a 20-something-year-old for the continuation of this piece.

Imagine, you’ve just been handed your college diploma. Mixed emotions fill your body; you know there will be challenges ahead, but the greatest feeling takes over when they call your name. When I graduated with my master’s degree, I felt like I was on top of the world! Nothing and no one was going to stop me. A year later my world turned upside down. My unexplained symptoms progressed and become more debilitating, then a correct diagnoses and surgery followed.

Like many students post-grad, finding was employment was challenging; however, an even larger struggle I was trying to figure out was what my body could handle, while still trying to live my very best life, despite living with multiple chronic illnesses. At this time my POTS symptoms were the most debilitating. I would have to take a “power nap” after breakfast in order to make it out the door, and would spend my weekends recovering to get ready for the coming weeks ahead. This was no way to live.

I’m at the weird age where many of my peers are either getting married, having kids, or they are still trying to figure life out. Many have started to rent apartments or buy homes of their own. Nothing brings me more joy then seeing the success of my friends and peers, and I would never want them to not share these joys with me. But it can be difficult to see it continually broadcasted on social media. It’s a challenge because those are all things I desire and what  society says I should be doing right now in my life; the ability to travel, work full-time, and move out on my own. All things I have envisioned for my future. But right now in this very moment, I need the physical and financial support of living at home, have to find the right balance for my body, can’t even begin to think about the idea of getting married or having kids, and don’t have the financial means to travel because expenses are spent on all things to medically improve the quality of my life.

So this was a long ramble as to why I took the plunge to leave social media. The truth is, I chose to leave it for my physical and mental health, because those days when I’m stuck in bed and seeing everyone else doing 20-something-year-old things can be really hard, because I’ve spent too much mindless precious energy, and because I know deep down in my heart that if I don’t look at what the world says I should be doing, I can truthfully say I’m doing a pretty good job!

Yes, I won’t have easy access to cute cousin photos or funny Snapchats, but I will gain back my piece of mind…

Truthfully, I’ve never felt so liberated.

Originally published: September 21, 2016
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