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The Frustration of Social Media When I'm Struggling With My Illness

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I hate social media. “Hate” is a strong word, but nothing else feels appropriate. Social media is constantly surrounding me with smiling pictures of friends I haven’t heard from in far too long because I never seem to have the time or energy to go out with them living a life I would kill to be able to live.

I get that social media only shows the good parts of life (because nobody is willing to discuss the bad), but as a chronic migraineur who is constantly juggling getting things done on my good days while I survive the bad, scrolling past smiling faces living the life I should be able to live as a 22-year-old college student, I get pissed off. Pardon my language, but it sucks knowing that is the life that I would get to live if I were a typical college student — you know, one who doesn’t take a handful of pills and supplements every morning and night to keep the migraines at bay, who doesn’t have to fight with the insurance company to cover the medication I know I need, who doesn’t spend hours driving to Chicago every three months for Botox injections from my neurologist and a general check-up. I would love to be the kind of college student who doesn’t balance school work, my part-time job, and medical conditions, but I am not that lucky.

So I get angry. Angry that I plan weekend getaways to visit my parents in Chicago to disguise my routine 31 Botox injection points as a brief vacation and getting to explore downtown. Angry that it feels like I spend more time at the pharmacy than my own apartment. Angry that “normal” college students take their lives for granted.

And then, I feel guilty. Guilty that I could ever be this angry when in reality, considering how poor my health was five years ago, I am one of the lucky ones. I’m lucky to no longer have six migraines a week and now only have three. I’m lucky to have friends who understand that I can’t always go out, even if they don’t always fully understand what it’s like juggling this pain. I’m lucky that there is no major neurological defect causing this pain, as evidenced by the multiple head scans with no abnormalities. I’m lucky the test for Cushing’s disease was negative.

But sometimes, it’s hard to feel lucky. It’s hard to feel lucky when I scroll through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and see everyone else my age having amazing adventures that I can only dream of having.

Here’s the thing: social media isn’t real life. People only share the bright and shiny parts of their life, never the frustrating or anger-inducing or depressing events. Even knowing that, it’s OK to feel angry, but I can’t let that anger consume me. I can be angry on the bad days that I have bad days, but I can’t let that anger ruin the good ones.

Because the good ones, though they may seem few and far between sometimes…

I wouldn’t trade those for any “normal” life.

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Thinkstock photo by ponsulak

Originally published: April 19, 2017
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