Do you find yourself comparing your life to that of someone who does not live with bipolar disorder, or the often anxiety disorder that comes along with it? I do. It is so easy! First of all, there is this glorious thing known as the Internet. The whole world can be found there. For example, I can be found a lot with a simple Google search. That is why I don’t give out my last name to guys I meet that could turn into some kind of relationship. I do not want to rock the boat until I can see the shoreline. And on this glorious super highway is this itty bitty thing known as Facebook. If you want to see people smiling, there it is. Picture perfect families. Adorable kids. Puppies and kittens even. Everyone has something perfect to share. Shoot, if I am having a good hair day I am as guilty as the next selfie poster.
But it is not real. It is the highlights. It is the one meal in months that turned out beautifully plated at a restaurant. It is you – six years ago, before you gained the weight that you still have not lost. It is that adorable picture you took of your dog sleeping at ground level, not the cord she just chewed up.
My therapist told me to stop looking at it, that it is not real, that it is the highlights and all I am doing is torturing myself by believing everyone else is better off than I am. But I have friends from high school, college, and beyond and that is the way we stay connected. I can go days without checking in. My good older friend told me she can tell when I am in a depression because I will not be online very much, if at all. She is right, depression keeps me from participating in life, but Facebook can depress me too. I see these people being so successful and I compare it to my own small, quiet life and I feel sad and sorry for myself.
It is not just others I compare myself to. I also compare everything to the ‘old me.’ I use to be so successful at everything I did (except for getting fired from a magazine for having a personal blog. Totally bogus and a story for another day). I achieved so much through all my schooling. I rocked my internships. Once I got into the fashion field – boom. Then I moved to Austin, Texas and everything happened for me. I rose to the top of two separate magazines, one after the other, answering only to the publishers. I got a two and a half year radio gig. I got a television spot. I even ATTENDED New York Fashion Week, not just planned it. My life was so good.
Until it was not. I started self harming. I would cut my left wrist. It was deep, it was gore. It was almost stitches and hospitalization but my mom came down and they let her watch me. I tried hiding what I was doing with big bracelets and watches but I do not think I fooled anyone. I moved back to Oklahoma, back to family.
Then I thought I was well enough to jump back into the fashion/ editorial world. I got a great job, great pay right outside San Francisco. Then I ruined everything by trying to commit suicide.
When I compare this life to the ‘old life’ I get really sad. But I have to remember that was before I got sick. I can’t compare this life with that. It is simply a new life and I can learn to make it enough and a happy life.
We should not compare ourselves to people without bipolar in their lives because everyone has their shit. We may not see it on Facebook, but behind those smiles are sad stories or disease or hurt, just like ours. So give yourself a break. Stop comparing and start living your own life.