For the few of you who follow this blog, you may also follow me on my various social media accounts too. If you follow my Twitter, you would have recently seen a post proclaiming that I am taking a social media break (at least from all my Canberra based social media accounts). I thought I’d explain my decision in this post – partly to explain to the few followers I have, but mostly to explain it to myself.
I have struggled with social anxiety since high school. Although most people wouldn’t realise, because I am considered “out-going”, I am trying very hard in social situations to not stand in the corner and cry. Unless I am totally comfortable around a person, I have to force myself to engage – which most of the time backfires and I’m just a super awkward hyperactive mess. I can count on one hand the amount of people I feel comfortable enough around to be my true self, and that is mostly made up of my family.
I started to put myself out there in the Canberra foodie community in early 2014, looking to meet some new people and get out of the house. I started using social media to promote this blog and connect with fellow bloggers. I have been lucky to meet some fantastic people in the time since then. I have spent time with fellow Canberra foodies (bloggers, instagrammers, facebookers) at events that we’re all invited to (or attend on our own accord), or catch ups that we’ve organised amongst ourselves.
I’m not a well-known or prolific blogger – most people know me from my Instagram account, @canberra_foodie, and even that doesn’t have many followers compared to other Canberra food related accounts – most of which started well after I did. I’ve constantly wondered why I bother to continue with the “Canberra food scene” (not that I put very much effort in to it to begin with, let’s be honest); my blog gets around 100 visits a day, but 90% of that is made up of people reading up about my stomach surgery. I doubt my Instagram followers would miss me either, because now there’s so many “Canberra food related” Instagram accounts (when I started there was about two).
I used to remind myself that I don’t do it for the followers – I do it for myself, because I love writing. Which was 100% true for a while. But for the past year I have been at school, where I get to write all the time and it’s writing I love (screenwriting). It’s fantastic and I feel creative and have made some amazing friends who I describe as “my people”. It’s also meant that I’ve lost interest in blogging. I’ve only posted a few times since I started school, and most of those posts were made while I was on holiday and even then I banged out three posts in the space of an hour and posted them all in one day and then didn’t blog again for months.
Let’s face it, I have been maintaining my Instagram purely to stay active in the Canberra foodie community. I thought “if I stop engaging, I’ll stop getting invited to things and I’ll lose friends”. But the truth is, I hardly get invited to any events or meet ups anyway. And by following all my foodie acquaintances on Instagram, I see when they get invited to events that I am not, or have catch ups that I am not a part of, and well… cue the FOMO. If it’s an event, I get annoyed and think “but I have more followers then them”. If it’s a group of foodies going out to a restaurant and I’m not invited, my anxiety riddled brain thinks “don’t they like me; why wasn’t I invited; what’s wrong with me?” The strange thing is that, while I have made some friends in the foodie community, mostly the people I am getting jealous over aren’t even my friends; generally they’re just people I’ve met a few times – some of them I don’t even like. I’m not sure what it is about the foodie scene that brings that out in me, because that’s not me. I am not usually that person. I am not competitive or ambitious, I am not one to look down on someone else for petty reasons. I am not so needy and insecure that I get jealous when people who are extremely ‘cliquey’ are spending time with each other without me (especially when I’m not even a part of that clique). But for some reason when it’s a community you are a part of, and when it’s shoved in your face via social media, it’s hard not to have those thoughts. It’s hard not to regress to high school a little bit. And then I get angry with myself for having such idiotic, immature, thoughts.
Oldest child syndrome? I dunno. But then, I hardly ever organise anything myself either. I often leave it up to the other person to reach out or invite me “if they want to”. I guess it’s my deep seeded self-conscious belief that no one wants to spend time with me. Not asking for hugs here, I just want you to know that if I’m not reaching out to you, it’s nothing you’ve done.
The competitiveness and FOMO has crept up in other ways, when a new restaurant opens or one of the foodies I follow goes to a restaurant and takes pictures of amazing looking food, I have to go. I have to try all of the foods. I can’t be the foodie that hasn’t yet been to the new hip eatery… So I end up spending money I don’t really have. I’ve also found that I spend time on social media, obsessing over the Canberra food scene and where I want to go next – when I should be focusing on my screenwriting.
And then there’s the weight issue. I have an eating disorder (binge eating and over-eating) and I had a $20,000 weight loss surgery (gastric sleeve) to restrict my stomach so I wouldn’t want to (or couldn’t) eat all the foods. I did so well during my first six months after surgery because I wasn’t going out much, I wasn’t eating at restaurants, and when I did I was ordering small dishes (sides and entrees) and sharing them. My food obsession came back because of social media. I started going on Instagram more, seeing photos of new restaurants opening in Canberra and I’d want to eat there. Instead of going to the gym, I go out to dinner. These days, when I am at a restaurant, I over eat because I want to try different dishes or dishes bigger than I should; and in over-eating I stretch out the stomach that I had surgery to shrink. Food makes me happy when I am depressed, and looking at photos of food makes me want to eat it without thinking of the consequences or regardless of the consequences. It’s the same with any kind of food; I don’t think about chocolate for days, but once you put some in front of me, I want all of the chocolate. I am highly susceptible.
I’ve been thinking about a lot of this stuff over the last few months, and then last week I had a massive anxiety attack.
Now, I know it wasn’t just the things I mentioned above that brought on the anxiety attack, I had some financial issues, weight/body image issues, and I was at home sick by myself and feeling very lonely – everything just compounded. I cried for about three days straight and was so psychically drained that I couldn’t leave the house. It’s probably fairer to say that I was in the midst of an anxiety attack, and because I was bored and lonely at home I went on social media, which then made it worse.
I am lucky enough to be quite a self-aware person, as you’ve probably noticed by reading any of my “life-related” posts on this blog. Once I realise what led to an anxiety attack, I make plans to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I cut off a friend from my life a few years ago, because I realised that we fed off each other’s depression – and once I did that I saw improvements in my mental wellbeing. Last week I unfollowed all foodies on Twitter and Facebook. I logged out of my canberra_foodie Instagram account and took it off the account toggle. I have, however, kept my weight loss surgery related and personal Instagram account going – I find the wls one in particular motivates me and I have found some likeminded people on there who are struggling with similar issues as I am.
If you’re a Canberra foodie reading this, please do not be offended by me “unfollowing you”. I needed to do it for my mental health and for the sake of my screenwriting/schooling, I hope you can understand. Please feel free to get in contact if you want to catch up.
And for the people who read this blog for the Canberra food reviews, or follow my canberra_foodie Instagram account, I will not be posting anymore food related topics indefinitely. Perhaps I’ll be back one day – but I have other priorities now.