The Unsocial Reality of ‘Social’ Media

What’s actually social about ‘social’ media?

Sitting behind a screen and flicking through other people’s lives is far from ‘social’, and if you’re anything like me, I feel far from sociable after a fair few scrolls.

Another night of half watching TV whilst numbingly swiping through my Instagram and Facebook feed and I’m wondering why I’m feeling low all curled up in bed on an evening…again.

It’s taken me a long time to realize there is a pattern establishing here, but tonight, as I’m reflecting more on my thoughts and feelings, I’m 99% sure that I’ve seen a skinny girl in an amazing dress and that has triggered my current pit of despair.  Oh yes, there she is. Wow, and another angle.

Either consciously or subconsciously I’ve probably done this more times than I can even remember and I know I’m likely not the only one. You can’t help but compare yourself to these people online. Whether it’s a mate, or a celeb, or simply someone you haven’t seen since school, for some reason we feel the need to follow their life publicised via social media. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising these people for uploading body shots. Hey, who doesn’t enjoy posting the odd selfie? But it is this readily available platform for comparison and self-criticism that enables individuals’ body image and self-esteem to plummet day-in-day-out. It’s a force of habit. I don’t even flick through these ‘stories’ out of interest, (the art of scrolling seems to have become second nature), so why am I letting it impact on my self-esteem and body image so much?

I’ve decided to help myself on my journey of recovery. I’m putting down my phone and I’m banning myself from the torture of scrolling through endless feeds every night. I need to take back control of my emotions and start accepting that if I can’t stop comparing myself to every other girl out there then how am I ever meant to accept myself for who I am. We should embrace individuality and learn to love ourselves for ourselves. I should be able to appreciate other peoples’ attractiveness without feeling threatened. I should be able to walk into a bar, confident with my appearance, without feeling intimidated by every other girl in sight. Stop comparing your ‘likes’ to hers. What the hell does a pixelated number count for anyway? Your thoughts are what makes you, and with the right set of positive ones, you might just start to recognize how amazing you really do look today, and every other day for that matter!

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Whittle
My name is Amy, I'm 22, and I’ve been living with an eating disorder for 9 years. A few months ago I was finally honest about it with my loved ones. I am now on my challenging journey through recovery and have started an online blog to help aid me along the way and hopefully provide some positivity and motivation for others to read who are going through a similar thing.

More Than Homeless


Shaking, crying, I spiraled into nothingness.

The abyss swallowed me as those who swore to love me spit me out.

Where does one go, what does one do on the first day of being ousted from their world? Because of who I am, I became homeless. Senior year at Temple, two classes left, and I never made it to graduation. This is my experience of being a homeless woman in Philadelphia. What follows is the depths of evil and love that I lived. Perhaps, more than anything, I share to tell other women that they aren’t alone, for this is ultimately a story of hope.

First came the cascading betrayal from those I trusted. One after another they washed their hands of me and fled hoping to not be associated with someone like me. Coming out was so quickly followed by being put out, that my weakness was all consuming. This is what false friendship had wrought. In choosing anyone to be near, so long as I wasn’t alone, I had built an unsustainable life. Such wisdom wasn’t so obvious to me at the time. And, so, I replaced bad friends with bad friends. As I fought for housing, a girl offered me a place to stay. She spoke to me of sisterhood. She spoke of providing safety.

What followed was pure darkness. The man she was sleeping with ran our block in North Philly. And to put it simply, I wasn’t welcome. Appealing to her was useless. She was blind and deaf to me. For the next few weeks, I was followed around by men I didn’t know. My possessions rifled through, broken, and stolen. A miasma of tension and anxiety hung over my head as threats of violence crippled my sense of worth.

Soon after I was jumped for the first time. I was helpless. Remnants of laying on the ground after it ended stick with me. Excuse me if I don’t know what else to say about this. The dam had broken, and I needed to flee. Thus began my stretch of being homeless. Further violence would happen. I was spat on. Punched at by random strangers and life. It was when I was attacked a block away from Center City, that I was broken. I was attacked, at first, a few people looked horrified and were shocked. As they got closer and realized what I was… they laughed. One man said that I deserved it.

A year earlier, I was looking at internships in Washington D.C., I had dreams. Suddenly, I found myself huddled in abandoned houses fighting for warmth and safety. Food was scarce. The food shelter I was closest to wouldn’t serve people like me. So, I…I began to plead with other women to help me figure out how to survive. But I didn’t like the answer. Again and again, everywhere I went. From women in my situation to women who had managed to pull themselves out of it. They all told me to start doing sex work. They offered to teach me how. To watch over me and guide me as best as they could. From D.C. dreaming… to this?!?! The look of scorn they gave me when I said no. It changed me. Something began to burn inside. How could they be so cruel? I could respect them for walking that path but I couldn’t. My biological mother was a sex worker and I simply couldn’t be like her.

Fittingly, as I had everything taken away from me, I started to see the world differently. Rejected by my old world, rejected by this new one. Creating a new one was my only option. It started small. My rise took place at a support group at The Mazzoni Center. Each week there, I slowly regained my voice. When a new girl walked through the doors I was the first person to greet her. A new person wouldn’t come or go without having interacted with me. This caught the attention of a few older women who saw a fire in me. I became their little sister.

On occasion, they would give me bags of food, or a small sum of money. What I cherish more than anything about my time in Philadelphia is the true sisterhood I felt on those nights. With bags of food in hand, I found my sisters and shared my new found wealth with them. The 4 or 5 of us timidly split the food up based on needs and preferences. Never have I felt so close to others. Never has the line between myself and others been so blurred. Forgive me if I sound insane, but to this day I still long for that level of humanity. Now I have all my needs met, I have friends and a future….but nothing has come close to those moments of sisterhood. When I talk of my time out there, this is the memory I share.

Together we built something. Within a few months of this, I had started to run my own support group. Whether to laugh or cry is hard to say, for I would go to these groups and plan potlucks, pool parties, and game nights, and then walk home to my abandoned home wearing old shoes that were completely worn through. I was giving all of myself, and I was happy.

Then, out of nowhere, a girl came into my world and within two weeks offered me a place to stay. She would become my best friend. To this day we live together and support each other. Boyfriends come and go, but we stand firm. Where would I be if I didn’t start fighting back? I would be lying if I said I had no pain, anger, or resentment. That isn’t the way home though. The cruelty of those around me, mixed with my own bad decisions had left me for dead. Loving those around me, giving when I had none, was what saved me.

 

How Binge Eating Can Mask An Eating Disorder

Occasionally binging on what felt like mountains of food in one evening is what allowed me to hide my eating disorder not only from others but also from myself for so many years.

Binge eating in itself is an eating disorder probably not widely recognised by the public. I imagine if a room of people were asked to draw someone with an eating disorder then a similar image would be replicated from person to person – a tiny stick of a human with the word ‘anorexic’ flying about in conversation. I think the biggest thing in today’s society is to step back and acknowledge that eating disorders don’t just present in the form of an overly thin individual. An obese individual that over indulges on a daily basis is suffering from an eating disorder. A person who starves themselves either daily or a few times a week, or makes themselves sick from time to time, is also suffering.

The one thing I have hated hearing over the years, and still to this day hear from time to time (when I am brave enough to be honest to open up to someone about my situation), is ‘so which disorder do you suffer from, is it anorexia or the bulimia?’. This is not a phrase I want to hear after opening up to someone – it casts doubt in my mind that I am actually suffering at all. For years I have thought ‘well hang on, I’m not thin enough to be classed as ‘anorexic’, am I? And I’m not making myself sick after every thing I manage to eat, so I can’t be bulimic. So I mustn’t have a problem at all! How embarrassing that I have even told someone about my ‘disorder’, I won’t be making that mistake again.’

WRONG.

If any of you out there are like me – you yoyo between depriving yourself of meals, starving yourself, living each day calorie obsessed, then the next you spend an evening binging on your favourite snacks – consciously aware in the back of your mind that being sick will ‘erase’ all the ‘wrong’ you are doing or for the next few days you know you can just avoid food to ‘make up’ for all these calories you’re consuming – then please Google ‘EDNOS‘. ‘Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified’ is the biggest eating disorder out there – it consists of a cycle of starving then binging then purging (check out my previous blog entry for more). Believe me, I was as surprised as you probably are right now that it is actually a thing to not fit into one specific well known eating disorder. Instead, you’ve conned yourself and others around you that you do eat ‘normally’ – ‘I had loads of chocolate last Friday so I’m not suffering from anything at all‘ or if you’ve heard someone say to you ‘How do you manage to eat all them biscuits without getting fat? I wish I could eat like that‘ … Phrases like these are what allow you to get away with this vicious cycle. Everyone (including your own self) seems to comment on these times when you’re eating loads. There’s been times when I was low and desperately wanted to share what I was facing in my own mind day-in-day-out but stopped myself just thinking ‘God if I tell them now that I have an ‘eating disorder’ they’ll think I’m such a fake…they saw me eat all that chocolate last week and I’m not even skinny enough to be taken seriously…how embarrassing, I’m not mentioning this to anyone. Infact…there’s not even anything wrong with me’.


It’s still incredibly hard to openly admit that I do have an eating disorder and there are only a few people I have trusted with my circumstances since I opened up 5 months ago. I still binge from time to time and the same thoughts enter my head of how to ‘undo’ it all the next day. It’s hard not to listen to my mind as the ideas start ticking over and the guilt sets in as I feel my stomach and think how horrendously fat I’ve become. But I’m learning not to act on these negative thoughts as I once did and I hope CBT will help me erase these thought patters from my mind for good one day.

I feel it is so important that people out there understand how binge eating can mask disorders and how it can play a huge part in EDNOS amongst other conditions. Binging enables easier vomiting and therefore plays a massive part in bulimia. It is the master of all disguises to everyone around. After all, who would second guess someone who ate all that food at the party the other night? They’re not starving themselves or suffering are they? Yes..they most likely are. Infact, they’re probably sat down now feeling horrendously shameful and guilty of their actions and have likely already began their next task of undoing all their previous ‘wrongdoings’.

Amy Whittle
My name is Amy, I'm 22, and I’ve been living with an eating disorder for 9 years. A few months ago I was finally honest about it with my loved ones. I am now on my challenging journey through recovery and have started an online blog to help aid me along the way and hopefully provide some positivity and motivation for others to read who are going through a similar thing.

Falling Forward Following Failure

During the moments of our tender youth, with wide-eyes and eager mouths, we yearn to experience—experience laughter, experience joy, and experience success. Our minds work in a rhythmic tandem with our hearts. Each beat promotes each movement and each thought, and each thought originates from a place of wonder without logic.

Our world is a blank canvas and the environment around us becomes a colorful pallet from which to paint our stories.

But as we get older, something happens. We begin to deliberately brush timid strokes into our world, blended together from hues of uncertainty and inexperience. And while these strokes contain fragments of beauty, each particle is a bleak representation of the genius within us. Instead, those strokes—the most genius ones—are the unapologetic, bold strokes that come from a place of wonder without regret, wonder without logic.

A few years ago, I decided to make a bold decision—to switch career paths—despite a fearsome battle between my mind and my heart. My heart felt full as I stepped forward into new territory, eager to create new successes. Just one year after having made that decision, I lost my job. It took every ounce of faith I had within my heart to convince myself that I had not failed the most important person in my life: myself.

We all experience these moments, whether at school, work, or home, when a decision does not yield the result we originally expected to occur. We also often view these results as mistakes—which is actually our biggest mistake of all.

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to be surrounded by an empowering group of women—along with several men—at the PA Conference for Women in Philadelphia, PA. Shonda Rhimes, writer and creator of Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and one of the keynote speakers at the event, said something that resonated within my soul:

“How we name something dictates how we deal with it, and we often let our fear dictate what those names will be.”

This brings me back to the word “mistake.” In its proper context, it simply means a misstep. But in society, we are unconsciously trained to believe that mistakes are much more than a misstep. We are led to believe that a mistake is a representation of a larger fault—a fault within ourselves, within our character. This is what often causes us to make those timid brushstrokes, creating safe and sometimes lengthy pathways to success.

I vividly remember the moments after I had lost my job. Shortly after walking through the door and having been greeted with a hug from my significant other, I stepped away from that moment to state to him—and really to myself—that I did not want pity. I wanted to move forward. I wanted to decide on my next bold move—wherever that might be or might take us. This experience would not define me. I would not allow it, no matter the perception or stigma associated with it.

“The more you summon the courage to do the thing you fear,” Shonda said, “the more you belong.” I would be lying if I told you that I had no fear as I pressed forward. Interview after interview, I began to believe in myself again. I solidified confidence in my ability to make a positive difference, and interviewers felt that confidence as something tangible. When I was faced with decisions about what I could do next in my career, I dreamt big, I dreamt unapologetically, and I dreamt bold. I went against the grain and chose job opportunities that best matched who I am and the impact I want to make in the world. The result? Happiness and, therefore, success.

As you read this article, take a second to reflect on a moment when you made a decision based on fear. What was the result? Did you feel fully satisfied with your decision?

Now, reflect on those moments when you made a decision in spite of fear.

I guarantee you that your decisions made in spite of fear have created the most beautiful environments for success in your life. And if they have not, dream bigger and dream unapologetically. You are the artist of your life. Paint with bold strokes of genius from a place of wonder without logic. Create and embrace your own definition of success and you will simultaneously be creating happiness.

Nicole is a professional hybrid who works within the social work and entrepreneurial fields. She believes in the binary importance of self-awareness and the growth mindset. Her main goal in life is to make a positive, lasting impact in at least one person's day, every day. In her spare time, you can find her practicing her sarcasm and Italian hand gestures for the next conversational comedian opportunity.

How To: Survive the End of the Honeymoon Stage

The Honeymoon Stage – A place where everything is going right for your relationship. You have it all… the hot boyfriend/girlfriend, an argument-free relationship, constant butterflies when you see them, and the romance and sparks are flying. Your love can conquer the world and you feel as though your relationship is untouchable. What can possibly go wrong?

Reality. Reality is where it all goes wrong!

As those of you who frequently read my stuff know, I am all about writing about my personal life. Personal = Relatable. Well, this piece is no different! My boyfriend, Mike, and I had a kickass honeymoon stage. So, when that honeymoon stage decided to come to an end, I guess you can say it felt like the relationship was over.

As harsh as it sounds, the excitement of the relationship slowly fades away, along with those butterflies you get whenever you see your significant other (S.O.).

You begin to notice annoying things about them that you once overlooked. For example, Mike enjoys taking his socks off when sitting on the couch, and throwing them into the corner of the room. (Yes, you read that sentence correctly.) For the first few months in our new apartment, this didn’t bother me. I would gladly walk past the socks, smiling, and pick them up and throw them in the hamper. No biggie! It’s only a pair of socks right? Well… if I told you that I still walk past those socks, and don’t want to rip my hair out every time I see them, I would be lying to you. This may seem dramatic to some of you, but those of you past the honeymoon stage will understand…

I. Hate. Those. Socks. I have actually developed hatred for his socks, and because of this, we have argued… over socks…

Also, makeup becomes a thing of the past. The need to obsess over how we look begins to change. By this time, your S.O. has already been impressed by you and the relationship takes a turn to become more comfortable. Bring on the sweatpants and ponytails!

You will also notice that your S.O. is a little more honest than you remember. The days of ‘Does this dress make me look fat?’ – ‘No! You are a goddess!’ — over. I am not saying your S.O. is now going to criticize your appearance. Let me give another example.

In the honeymoon stage, I could have wore a trash bag and Mike would have been ooo-ing and aww-ing. (My favorite part of the honeymoon stage, if we are going to be honest.) Well, one day, I decided to change the way I was styling my hair. I walked out of the bathroom and said ‘What do you think?’, expecting the same ooo-ing and aww-ing. Mike replies, ‘It’s okay. I think it looks nicer the other way.’ There I stood, shocked, questioning who this monster thinks he is and why I would subject myself to such cruelty.

Joking aside, I wish the honeymoon stage was permanent, but, unfortunately, it’s not. The reality is, every couple goes through the end of the honeymoon stage, and it sucks. But, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to suck! Here are some ways to survive the end of the honeymoon stage!

DO NOT stop date nights!

I feel as though couples stop having date nights once their relationship turns serious. What sense does this make? Date nights do not mean watching a movie on the couch. Get up, dress up, and go out! Make plans together. Set up a certain day of the week to have a date night. By continuing to date each other, you are keeping the excitement in the relationship.

Do something new together.

Relationships become repetitive and comfortable. So, try something new that neither of you have ever done before. Do something together that forces you to come out of what is comfortable. For example, Mike and I just recently went to an overnight ghost hunt at Pennhurst Asylum, which scared me to death. We also have talked about taking a cooking class together, because we live off of cereal haha. Do something that will make you more knowledgable, something creative, different, scary, and fun!

Reflect on the fun times.

Reflecting on the fun memories you experienced together will help you revisit the honeymoon stage, and can help bring you both close together again!

Keep the sparks alive!

Do not let the romance and intimacy die! This is vital for a relationship to survive the end of the honeymoon stage. Keep trying to impress each other both romantically and in terms of being intimate. Sometimes couples become lazy in this category because they are used to the routine. Change it! Who says routines aren’t meant to be broken? Spice things up by trying new things, sweeping your S.O. off their feet, and keeping them on their toes.

Remember why you fell in love with them.

Go back to when you first met them. What gravitated you to him/her? What about them made them interesting to you? Do not forget the reason why you’re in the relationship in the first place. Is it their sense of humor, good-looks, personality, work ethic? Go back to what brought you both together and don’t forget it!

So, my fellow honeymooners, do not panic once your boyfriend starts throwing socks and telling you that your hair looked better a different way! haha. Every couple goes through this transition and it is perfectly normal. HOW you handle this transition is what really matters. Relationships are a lot of work and will not remain perfect and shiny. When you take the steps necessary to survive the end of the honeymoon stage, your relationship will benefit immensely. You will be closer than ever. What happens after the honeymoon stage is what is most important. 🙂

Sincerely, Olivia.

 

Olivia has her bachelor's degree in Human Development & Family Studies, with a minor in Psychology, and she is currently working towards a master's degree in Social Work. Her dream job is to work with service members and their families to help them navigate through military life and daily challenges. Olivia is an avid reader who loves a great murder mystery, a die-hard Fleetwood Mac fan, and will never miss an episode of Grey's Anatomy, of course accompanied by a box of Kleenex.