When I sat down to write my first blog, with not a clue what to write about I did what I do best every time I procrastinate. I lifted up my phone, clicked on Instagram and began pointlessly scrolling. It was then that it clicked, Instagram really is one big illusion.
There’s so much more to life than the perfect Instagram post, so many hiccups and imperfections covered up by a filter.
For me personally, I took a scroll through my own Instagram feed. It went like this – two weeks in California for Christmas, a summer touring around California with my best friend, winning Camogie championship with my best friends, trips to Dublin and London and plenty of nights out in between. Yeah you could say I’ve had a pretty good year but in reality I’ve also had the most mentally challenging and toughest year imaginable.
Here’s a small insight – It began last March when my Granda died, as this was the first death of someone very close to me, it hit me and my whole family hard, he was a big part of all our lives. Then 13 months later, my aunty Orla died. 49 years of age, the life and soul of every room she walked into, vivacious, healthy and with so much more to give and fulfil in her life. How could this happen to her? When she took herself to the hospital a few days after she came home from holidays with what she thought was a ‘bug’ from the plane home little did she, or any of us, know that within just 60 short days she would’ve been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer with secondary tumours in her lymph nodes, liver and kidneys and die.
I don’t even know how to begin to explain the sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, depression and grief that has overtaken me this past year but what I do know for sure is that it’s ok to feel like this and it’s ok to ask for help, as hard as it is to admit to.
I know for sure there are many friends and maybe even family members of mine reading this now who were totally unaware of the way I’ve been feeling. What I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to post an Instagram story out for lunch on a Saturday but what you don’t see is the anxiety attacks, petit mal seizures*, days of meltdown, tears and not leaving my bed that had happened before I finally headed out for that lunch.
The thing I’ve learnt about grief is that it affects everyone differently and at different times. I remember straight after Orla died I was so confused why I wasn’t so sad all of the time and felt bad about it and it wasn’t until my granny sadly passed away after a long 13 years of suffering profound brain damage from a car accident in September that all of a sudden I became sad, angry and confused about Orla’s death – grief just having it’s moment. In the midst of this, my dad had taken a heart attack and had two stents put in. As if I wasn’t stressed and anxious enough, being the complete daddy’s girl that I am I was struggling to come to terms with everything that had gone on, the fear of what if it was too late for my dad, it was tough.
Anyway, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that everyone is fighting a battle none of us are aware of. Loosing 3 very influential and special people within 17 months has been an extremely tough time for me yet looking at my social media outlets you’d be none the wiser.
Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to scroll through and post on Instagram but at the end of the day Instagram is like our ‘life highlight reel’, our social media persona and I’ve learnt not to compare myself to other people. The point is this—do not fall victim to the highlight reel. Do not fixate on the lives of others, don’t compare your life to someone else’s. No one’s life is perfect. As my very wise Granda used to say “be slow to blame, you might’ve done the same.”
Thanks for reading!
Niamh Mac Manus is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter – @niamh_mac_manus, Instagram – @niamhmacmanus_ and Linked In: Niamh Mac Manus
*An absence seizure is a form of internal epilepsy which causes you to blank out or stare into space for a few seconds and can result in you becoming forgetful.