Mental Health: Valentine’s Posts Are a No From Me Dog

Saddle up for a series of hot takes. Yeehaw!

Social media! A journey of jealousy and curation, trendy filters and ever-changing lexicon, FOMO and even some JOMO. Variations of “remember, social media is just someone’s highlight reel!” have become a common refrain when considering’ profiles, and now manufactured vulnerability has become de riguer, much to ole Bummed Out Bailey’s chagrin… my culture of crippling anxiety and ideation is not costume, [hot influencer selling something via fake mental illness confessional].

Your moods can be soaring or plummeting while you post something in opposition. You can display energy while you’re exhausted, or take a sleeping selfie (???how) when you’re actually up and at ’em. Maybe these things end up being self-fulfilling! Except for the selfie taking while you’re sleeping, ’cause that sounds witchy. Maybe social media presentation is all an evolved take on the “fake it til you make it” mentality, but I suspect it’s still more of a manipulative tool or façade. Who knows.

So, something top of mind this past week in regards to social media are, naturally, Valentine’s posts. I’d like to even the playing fields here.

Dear people who are coupled up on Valentine’s,

Guys, what the hell? Stop it. Your lover is not shipped off to ‘Nam. Why are you gushing about your S.O. on a social media platform when A) you can just tell them how you feel in person or on the phone, which is more meaningful anyway, and B) it makes people who are lonely on V-Day feel worse? It’s weird. And it was like the more people posted love letters to their S.O.s, the more other people did until it was a deluge of saccharine. I like sugar, but… gag. I’m sneakin’ in some salt.
I post goofy tributes to Rick ’cause I crack myself up and also ’cause I know ain’t nobody wanna read about what we mean to each other except… each other. So, I talk about, like, Rick’s vest collection or how he complains about Sprinkles cupcakes icing to cake ratio being off.
It comes off as insecure to rave about your romance online, which may or may not be true IRL. Sometimes you just wanna publicly celebrate your person, I get it. But I know what it feels like to be lonely and scrolling through people’s love stories advertised all over the place on V-Day. It hurts, so be cognizant. And maybe take a romantic social media-less trip to ‘Nam together.

Love,
Bailey

Dear lonely people on Valentine’s,

Reminder: marriage or romantic partnership does not equal ever-lasting emancipation from loneliness. The loneliness inside of these relationships actually compounds when you feel isolated or misunderstood because, even though you have a person to alleviate those things in theory, we’re all fallible human beings in practice and fail each other sometimes. Whether or not you’ve been in a longterm partnership, this is important for all people to keep in mind.
If you’re wondering what the heck is going on, and where your relationship(s) went wrong, they didn’t. It’s just that no one is posting the miserable stuff on the internet.com.

Love,
It’s Still Me, Bailey

P.S. One of my favorite podcasts I listened to this week was Bad On Paper’s “Being Single Doesn’t Have to Suck!” episode. I love the women who host this pod.

Three months after Rick and I got married my boss moved to Abu Dhabi and I asked to follow him. I created a deck and pitched why I’d be great and how badly I wanted it. I reasoned that Rick and I would fly back and forth and see each other every six weeks, equaling one trip for each of us every three months. I had it mapped and Rick’s arm twisted. My boss called me up on a Sunday morning and said that he and his wife had been married for 30 years, so this was kind of a drop in the bucket for them, but that my and Rick’s marriage was so new (he’d been there to celebrate with us) that he was wary to condone such a vast separation. I was so bummed when it didn’t work out back then, but Rick and I laugh about it now. The hindsight idea of us being separated by a 13 hour flight when we were just beginning to establish the foundation of our home is, for us, preposterous, especially considering how rocky it all was for us in the first two years. Rick likes to laugh and say “Hey remember when we got married and then you immediately tried to move away to the Middle East?” It seriously could’ve been a quick nail in the marital coffin.

Anyway, while Rick and I have only been together 5-6 years, I can appreciate that it’s a beautiful thing for two people to choose each other over and over, every day. However, I can’t just get up and move to the Middle East because I feel like it anymore. On October 1, 2016 I committed to consulting and considering another person on all big choices for the rest of my life. Maybe I’d actually like to be shipped off to ‘Nam for a three month teaching adventure where I get a long weekend to fly over to Chiang Mai and snuggle an elephant, but I can’t just jet off into the sunset. And because Rick still thinks Linkedin is social media, I wouldn’t find a romantic Valentine’s post online, anyway, unless it was an allusion hidden in an article about ROI or how to scale product.

Whenever I see precious babies on social celebrating birthdays, family vacations to the beach with sandy Michelin-man buns, and matching Christmas PJs and the joy/terror of meeting Santa, I think about how nice that must be to have: a cozy home with children underfoot. But, in the same vein as marriage v. singledom, there are pros and cons, right? Longterm relationships, children – each one of these things is like a root that grows deeper, making it evermore challenging to uproot from the place you’re in geographically, professionally, etc. Sometimes I long for a little house with a yard and a derpy golden retriever and my own herb garden and a baby toddling around, but I try to recalibrate my thinking to remember that while there are wonderful things about that potential, there are also wonderful things about life without children (yet), if that’s something you desire. The same goes for life without a longterm partner (yet), again if that’s something you desire.

I think it’s so easy to look at someone else’s life online and feel as if you’re missing something fabulous. It’s not all creative baby announcements and promproposals, though (good golly so glad that didn’t exist when I was in high school. THE PRESSURE). Instead it’s staying up all night fighting, begging your S.O. to please not sleep on the couch, that you’ve got to work through it instead, no matter how long it takes or how exhausted we’ll be tomorrow. It’s not getting more than three consecutive hours of sleep for months on end due to a challenging baby schedule. It’s an inexplicable pit of despair or impatience with your partner cause they keep griping about someone stealing their socks and people driving with their brights on when no one is stealing their socks and not everyone they think has their brights on actually does. But, enough about Rick. It’s children you adore but who are driving you crazy with constant bickering. It’s parents with cancer or a lonely grandparent with Alzheimer’s. It’s car wrecks and missed trains and cold coffee and someone shoulder-checking you on the street and cruel words. It’s resenting your S.O. ’cause he’ll never understand what it’s like to have a dear brother experiencing homelessness and heroin addiction. It’s unfair. It’s also a thoughtful gift and a new friendship and a stiff cocktail and a loved one showing up to surprise you and fun bops on the radio and an exciting new career change and a gorgeous manicure that lasts a long time. It’s laughing at the bad times to make it through, it’s treasuring the good times when they come. It’s so, so many things, and I hate the limitations we put on ourselves when we compare the arbitrary bits we choose to feature on social media.

For years now we’ve been sanding down the bumps of social media unrest and what lies beneath those peaks and chasms. I think we know deep inside that everyone has their highs, lows, days when they feel bad about themselves, elated, gassed up, drained, inspired, decimated, anything. And the content doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with what’s really going on.

This actually brings me a sense of peace. Maybe that peace will be fleeting as we learn more and more about how we intertwine with the internet’s tendrils but, in this moment, remembering the fallible person behind the screen is freeing.

Free motto: Is my lover shipped off to ‘Nam?

Just kidding.

Kind of.


POST SCRIPT BONUS!

While I’m on a roll, here are more social media things that need to die:

– “my forever wedding date”
– “#blessed”
– “this man/this one”
– “I did a thing/we did a thing”
– “long hair don’t care” (good grief Nicki Minaj said this on the “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” freestyle in 2007. 2007! Let’s find a new hair ref.)
– while on the subject, “can’t stop won’t stop”
– anything about tacos or Hocus Pocus, they’re the new PSL
– TBT/”throwin it back” to anything less than, like, five years ago

Wow, I feel so much better getting that off my chest.


Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Bailey:
Mental Health: Construct. Deconstruct? Reconstruct. Struct? Help.
Mental Health: Tired of Me
Mental Health: The Things We Carry


Do you love Bummed Out Bailey? Want to help keep it going? Support me on my Patreon. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Bailey by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website and enter your info into the form. I can also be found on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter!

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: Construct. Deconstruct? Reconstruct. Struct? Help.

I’m having a hard time structuring my life right now.

First of all, announcement! After two and a half years and most of our marriage living with my in-laws, Rick and I signed a lease for our own place starting March 1. We’re over the moon, or as Rick would say, “super jazzed.” However, our belongings are in storage, in the city, and intertwined with my in-laws’. Rick and I have cobbled together our home life for years now, and we’ve got to untangle it. Moving is a good time to purge, and of course moving in general is stressful. But, we’re moving! We. Are. Moving. :) It’s a magical place on the Upper West Side in a renovated town home. It was a working fireplace(!) and is a half block to Central Park(!). I walked in and immediately knew it had to be ours. I kinda won’t believe it is until move-in day. I’m so grateful. Meanwhile, our bank account is dry heaving.

Too much?

Anyway, enough gushing about Barbie Dream House. What is and should be top of mind for me is my thesis. I’ve begun piecing through all of my grad school notes kept both in my notebooks and in my phone notes. On floating post-it notes and book margins I’ve scribbled cryptic blurbs that pertain to my brother Alex’s story, our relationship, and the fabulous potpourri of mental illnesses in my family, and now I’m categorizing everything and creating a master list of big events and touching details to be pieced together in a can’t-put-downable book. (Self-affirmation.) I guess you can think of it as a book skeleton.

A huge part of writing, of course, is reading, and I’ve got a fat stack of books to study to inspire/inform my own work via similarities in genre or subject matter. I also need to keep up with exercise, post here on Bummed Out Bailey, manage the move, market Tidy B Organizing, submit my writing to publications, research agents, and start planning for work life post-grad, but more and more I’ve been wondering if I’m harming the progression of my book and usefulness of my thesis semester by cluttering my life with arguably unnecessary things, like posting in a blog I enjoy. I don’t want to press pause on Bummed Out Bailey because I made a commitment and want to stay with it. I want my word to mean something. But, at what cost? I need a cost-benefit analysis up in here. Up in here, up in here.

There’s no field guide to being a freelance creative, which is its inherent liberation and restriction. Some days that structural freedom is celebrated, and other days it leers at me and taunts. What’re you doing? You don’t deserve this. Why aren’t you doing more? What’s wrong with you? You’re not good enough. You’re a spoiled, navel-gazing brat from an affluent, privileged white family who gets to solely focus on their art during grad school while your peers turn out good work… and have JOBS! AND you don’t even have children to worry about!

But enough about me.

Basically I just sit around steeping in a pool of my own guilt that I’m not doing enough, which I constantly have to remind myself is untrue as I’m doing my very best. Depression is woven into this feeling of failure and inability to juggle. Out here hopin’ the Prozac is kickin’ up my seratonin levels enough. Come onnnn seratonin! You’re #1!

In the past 24 hours I got upset thinking about unchosen dogs while reading about a person’s experience walking through a pound. I worried my acupuncture office thinks I keep rescheduling because I’ve become xenophobic due to coronavirus and their feelings are hurt. I was in a rush and hung up on some kind person calling from Big Brothers Big Sisters cause I didn’t know what to say and kind of panicked. I’m like a giant turtle trundling along weighed down by barnacles of guilt and sadness that cling to me wherever I go. It’s fun to be me! At least I’ll soon have a magical apartment to sloth around inside of while in the depths of my unqualified guilt and shame!


Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Bailey:
Mental Health: Tired of Me
Mental Health: New Year Goal Mapping
Mental Health: Location, Location, Location


Do you love Bummed Out Bailey? Want to help keep it going? Support me on my Patreon. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Bailey by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website and enter your info into the form. I can also be found on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter!

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: 31 Birthdays

This post has been removed in order to submit to publications. Stay tuned!


Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: A Birthday Wish
Mental Health: Saying No in the Spirit of Self-Care


To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker and get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Twitter for sassy tweets and a sprinkle of nonsense.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.