September; It's all about the self-love and switching-off.

For the third year in a row, one of my favorite internet peeps, Kelly-Ann Maddox, is hosting Self-Love September on her social media accounts. She blogs, instructs in videos on YouTube, tweets and Facebooks her little heart out about all things self-love, and things related to self-love for the entire month, pouring resources into the world for those who are hungry for some of that good stuff. And for the third year in a row, I have been hungrily following along, soaking up as many resources as possible, hanging off every word, and journaling like a mad woman when I hear that passage said just right and it sparks something in me that needs to be tackled, picked apart, and examined.

This year Kelly-Ann has encouraged us to share our self-love stories with the world, and while I intend to do so, this blog post won't be it. Well, all of it, anyways. I am sharing a tiny fragmented piece of something that is helping me with my journey towards managing my depression and anxiety (again). I know I have talked about my long history with mental illness in bits and pieces, so most of you probably won't be surprised to hear that I have suffered from them for years. Recently I made the decision to go back on medication as part of my management plan, as least for a few months anyway, and so far, it seems to have been a wise decision. But I also made a self-loving decision for the month of September, and that was to switch off of all of my social media accounts.

For some of you, the thought of switching off Facebook or Instagram or whichever ones you favor for a whole DAY may sound extreme, but a whole month? Yup, you heard me right, the entire month. I logged out of my social media platforms on the morning of September 1st on both my computer as well as my smart phone, and I haven't looked back. Because you see, while things like Facebook and Instagram have given me inspiration, connection, and even laughter, they have also eaten up far more of my time than I would care to admit, been the cause of multiple episodes of anxiety, sadness, cases of the blues, and long binges of guilt and self-sabotage. Sometimes, the internet is a cruel place to be, and I knew that as I was immersed in the last few weeks of waiting for my medication to reach the level of efficacy, that I could use a whole lot less of the nasty stuff in my life.

Now that the first week of September is coming to a close, I can whole-heartedly report to you that the decision to log out of my accounts for a month was a good choice on my part. I decided that September was instead going to be dedicated to some things that really matter to me: my family, the house improvements that I've been procrastinating on, reading for pleasure, knitting, time for myself, writing, and basically anything that reduces my stress and brings me pleasure. So far, I have eaten mostly whole, healthy foods, but I've also indulged in some delicious and sinful things, like my husband's homemade carrot cake from scratch (yes, even the icing!!!), and sweet, milky chai tea, which I've shared with my daughters (Emelie loves some warm in her sippy cup) and my favorite snack food, Veggie Straws (I could seriously eat nothing but that for an entire week and be perfectly happy).

I've also been watching my favorite thing to watch on tv: educational documentaries. I've watched shows about wildlife, history (including one on the witch burnings in England), art theft during World War 2, and early childhood brain development from birth to school age. I've been reading for pleasure every single day, and I'm nearly finished a fantasy series, and I have the last of a paranormal series on deck, and I'm pretty sure I'll manage to finish that in a couple days too. I've also been knitting My needles have been click-clacking away now for a couple of weeks, and in that time I've knit a pair of socks for myself, one for my son and oldest daughter, and I'm nearly finished a pair for my adopted-niece, after which, I'll begin using some of the leftovers from the previously mentioned socks to knit some for Emelie.

But the single-biggest benefit of my decision to remain offline (I'm not totally offline, as this blog post can attest to; I'm still watching YouTube videos, checking and sending emails, and blogging) has been my ability to be present with my children. I was really able to fully participate in the experience of my kids going back to school, Emelie's desire to potty train, and to really spend some time with my husband as he's on a week's holidays from work. The connection I'm forging with my family is amazing. I've even made time to see friends, or stay in touch with out of town ones, spend more time with my extended family (or again, communicating with some of the long-distance members) and do some things I was long putting off, because I "didn't have the time," like getting my hair cut.

In short, switching-off from social media hasn't actually left me switched-off and disconnected from the world, it's had the complete opposite effect! I'm now more connected to a lot of the people in my life than I have been in a long time. This was one of the best decisions I could have made, and one that I know will only help along my healing process with mental illness.

I hope that so far, September is all you hoped it would be, and that you're well.

-Jess <3

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