As we kick off Mental Health Awareness Month I want to begin with some insight that my son had over the weekend into how social media really steals the joy from our lives. He shares this piece of writing with me and I was struck by how it opened my eyes to the connection between social media and our mental health. His excerpt highlights the reality of living with the challenges of depression and how we can feel alone even in a room full of people. I read it and got a loud and clear message that I think we all need to hear. So I ask you…

Is Social Media

Is Social Media Stealing Your Happiness? by Geoffrey Davis

Sitting at my favorite coffee shop with a group of friends I wonder why I feel so alone. Why do I feel like I’m the only one who wants to be here? I’m surrounded by my best friends who are absent of mind all who seem to be controlled by this small rectangle in their hands that seems to dictate what we are doing at all times. As I look around the table,  I see that I’m the only one who isn’t staring at this little screen in my hand and can’t help but wonder if there is something wrong with me.

Being someone who has depression and PTSD, I get that there will always be this little voice in the back of my head that tells me I’m not good enough, that no one likes me. It’s as if that voice is just lying there waiting for the perfect moment to strike, and seeing the people i really care about sitting across from me, but at the same time somewhere else entirely, gives that voice a chance to have a field day in my head.  I have come to the realization that these types of thoughts will never go away. I know its something I will have to live with for the  rest of my life and I’m okay with that. Better yet I’ve come to terms with it.

If I’ve learned one thing from my experience it is to be in the moment and enjoy whats happening around me. Not whats gonna happen, or what happened yesterday, but whats happening right now. When they say to be in the moment I take that to mean to be present in the here and now. And let me stress the importance on the here! But as I look around I guess my generation kind of missed the point with social media, texting, surfing the internet.

You can do all of these things anywhere you want to and while I will admit it is pretty cool, there is a downside to mobile communication. It takes people away from whats right in front of their face –  actual human
connection.  You know that thing that  makes us feel a part of something.

Not to say I’m perfect because I can get caught up in it just as easily as anyone else, but for me the more I feel connected online the less I feel connected in real life. And that’s never a good thing when you are struggling with mental and behavioral health stuff.

I want to issue a challenge to you all, the next time you’re hanging out with friends or just having a conversation, put down the screen and see whats right in front of you. If you are out in  nature, watching a sunset, or on a hike, instead of taking a picture just look at beauty all around you. Experience it in real life, and don’t lessen the moment so you can show everyone on Facebook, or Snapchat that you are having fun. Just enjoy the moment for the fucking miracle that it is. The miracle that you are alive today to truly enjoy whats going on in the here and now.

 

~Geoffrey Davis is a speaker and author who is winning the battle that comes with mental illness. He is the co-founder of DASIUM a company leading the way in the prevention of depression, addiction and suicide in teens and young adults and wrote the book Warning Signs to bring hope to families across the nation.

{ 0 comments }

I’m inclusive, I reach out to the newcomer, I’m supportive of all military spouses and I love my military life. I’m all of these things; UNTIL I’m not. And today it’s been brought to my attention that without realizing it we have once again alienated the male military spouse. Don’t see it? Neither did I…that is until today.

Military Life_ Alienating the Male Military spouse_This morning as I was sharing information on a free military spouse event (get more details here) one of my all time favorite military spouse advocates sent me a message with a simple statement. Jeremy Hilton shared:

“I’m starting to get the message that men aren’t wanted at these events”.

As I read the message I instantly wanted to insure him that we always include all spouses and began to frantically type… But I stopped before I hit send. One by one flyers for various events came across my feed. Without exception the verbiage was written to the female military spouse. Whether it was an “All branches luncheon for Officer Wives”,  a “Womens Conference open to all military spouses” or any of the other local and national marketing I’ve been able to uncover in the last hour there is definitely something that we are NOT doing.

We are not making the male military spouses feel welcome. And not because we don’t want them there nor because we aren’t sensitive to their needs. It’s because we aren’t thinking about that segment of the population when we design our flyers and invitations. The result is an entire group of spouses who feel ouster-sized and unwelcome. Now to be fair and balanced they often don’t come or when they do, they don’t come back. It’s a problem that needs action on both sides.

So how do we fix it? [click to continue reading …]

{ 10 comments }

Last night I attended an event that is part of a week long tradition among the Engineer Regiment. As part of military life and regimental week here on Fort Leonard Wood, military spouse events are as much a part of the weeks powerful lineup as the laying of the wreath ceremony, best sapper competition or the Regimental Ball. And this years Engineer Spouses Night Out didn’t disappoint.

Military Life - You are the glueWhile the event was full of laughter and fun it was so much more than that for me – it was a wake up call that I didn’t even know I needed. Up until last night I hadn’t realized that since we PCS’d here to Ft Leonard Wood that I’d been disconnected from the spouse community. Sure I have my online spouse community and I travel to installations regularly to speak, but without realizing it, I was missing the most important thing. The thing that helps me keep it together and prevents me from fraying at the edges. I was missing my local peeps.

I was missing the glue.

It’s easy to get caught up in work and home life believing that online connections are a strong enough support system to get us through military life. But last night showed me that a quick messenger conversation or a comment reply convo are NOT a substitute for the laughter and camaraderie that happens only with in-person contact.

At one point during the evening, as part of a game, each table was asked to describe their engineer.  All of us around the table began to spit out descriptions, adjectives, quirks and sayings about our soldiers that had us high-fiving and smiling. Instantly there was a bond of understanding and acceptance that only military spouses can understand – a silent acknowledgement that we “get it”. [click to continue reading …]

{ 0 comments }

It’s so easy to get discouraged when things don’t unfold according to our timetable isn’t it? I don’t care if it’s in my everyday military life or through my small business dealings but I get frustrated when things aren’t moving fast enough.  I think that because I want something to change in my life, that it should happen now.  I also believe that if I want something bad enough that I should see results when I want them – but that’s often not the case. The reality is that while we can increase the chances for success sometimes results come very differently than what we expect – which isn’t easy.

Small business: success is a processIn the past I’ve written about expectations (here), and success (here) but sometimes I struggle to be ok with having the patience to wait for results to catch up with my vision – and I know I’m not alone. For many of us it’s hard to understand why things aren’t unfolding according to our plan and when we can’t see the payoff for our efforts or find a better way to speed up the process we may want to give up. But giving up isn’t the answer. In fact that’s the opposite of what success is all about. [click to continue reading …]

{ 0 comments }