Most of us have hit low times. Some of us will have hit an absolute all time low that you fear you will never escape from. We may have had terrible thoughts of being a failure, being worthless, and our lives being completely pointless. I have a strong suspicion that most people feel like this at some point in their lives. Whether this is because society drags us down or whether we feel inadequate due to being enveloped in a social media circus, I don’t entirely know. I am of the opinion that social media can be a catalyst in both our descent and our rising. We just need to be our own filter.
My descent began way before the big rise of social media. I think Facebook was just about taking off. We had camera phones but the whole ‘selfie’ phenomenon was a long way off. It was still another two years before twitter would emerge and another six years before the emergence of Instagram so I cannot blame social media. Perhaps it was the lack of social media that caused my descent. I had role models but they weren’t forced in to our faces back then. I was aware that I should be eating healthily and exercising but access to information about this wasn’t as freely available as it is today. I cooked and ate exactly what I wanted from recipe books. This mostly consisted of high fat lasagne dishes, cheesy pasta bakes and pizzas. I sometimes went for a little run around the block and I consumed a lot of wine. A lot! I was drinking a bottle of wine a night and I think we all know just how many calories are in an entire bottle of wine. There was no way I was even close to burning off what I was consuming. So, the weight piled on and my body and health deteriorated. I was also smoking back then, and it would be a long time before the association between drinking wine and smoking would be broken forever. As my waistline expanded I was squeezing in to my clothes with blind stubbornness. I would eventually give in and buy a bigger size but even then I don’t think I ever realised what size I actually was. I must have been a size 18 still squashing in to a size 16. I had a constant cough through smoking and I couldn’t even walk to the local shop without getting out of breath. I took a lot of naps during the day and slouched on the sofa most evenings clutching my glass of wine. I was working in a job that I disliked and I didn’t even think about the future. Not one little bit.
The pit of my descent was seeing photographs of myself. Not the ones that I took, because they would always just be my face, but the ones others took. In particular there was a professional photographer at a family event. When we got copies of the photos I couldn’t quite believe what I saw. I was still very much under the illusion that I was fairly healthy and attractive. I thought I had a pretty face so all was good. The reality was that the fat on my face had squashed all of my features into a little mess in the middle. My arms, which I thought were big but toned, were like giant flabby sausages. My stomach was just hideous. I couldn’t believe that I had never noticed the reality of all the unhealthy lifestyle I was living. I was in my twenties and I honestly thought I was invincible. I met up with a couple of old school friends and although they didn’t say anything, I could sense that they were shocked by my appearance. I was always pretty normal at school. Not fat and not skinny. I had become the fat one. Some of the terrible fat pictures of me appeared on Facebook and I was disgusted and ashamed. There for the whole world to see, was fat me. I could imagine my Facebook friends laughing at them and bitching about me. This was the absolute bottom of my descent. This was the prison cell that I had created for myself. No one else was to blame but me.
This only began fourteen months ago so I am still rising, and I feel it. I feel it every single day in my bones and it’s amazing. I have a huge confession to make. Social media has been the catalyst in my rising. Instagram to be precise. I have been fortunate not to receive any negativity on there yet, probably because I only have seventy followers! I take true inspiration from the people I follow and the odd comment of support makes me stronger. This may seem lame to some, but to those who have embraced it, you will know exactly how I feel. The kindness of strangers can be an empowering thing.
I have lost just over 42lbs, I can run just under 7km and I have some amazing muscle definition beginning to show. I have learnt how to eat healthily to suit my body. I am a non smoker and have been for quite some time. I no longer drink a bottle of wine every night, although I do drink at the weekends. I actually think about what I am doing to my body and I am preparing for the future.
So, social media I thank you. I thank you for allowing me to see my descent and recognise it. I thank you for showing me that I can rise from that and I thank you for teaching me how to rise. Most of all, I thank Instagram. I thank the inspiration that I have found on there and I thank the kindness of the strangers who comment. Now watch my rising. I hope someone is so that they too can rise from their descent. Everything is possible. Believe me.