Posted in mental health

The Illusion Of Perfection – Why I Had To Delete TikTok

Disclaimer – This post, in NO WAY, is bashing on TikTok content creators or influencers, I am only describing MY PERSONAL struggle with the app.

This is a post I have been debating on writing for some time. I have faced difficulties figuring out ways to compile my feelings in a way that makes sense, however, I am going to try to do so transparently and vulnerably.

For so long, I did not download the TikTok app. I just never thought it was for me. So many people would send me TikTok’s and I, honestly, would never watch not even one of them. I sincerely was not interested and did not care.

I didn’t understand the purpose of TikTok, just as I really didn’t understand the purpose of Snapchat when it became popular- It just didn’t make sense to me.

I did, however, jump on the Snapchat bandwagon for a few years, but then I fell off because, honestly, it started getting really lame.

It’s sort of like- it was cool at first but now that everyone’s profile picture is the dog sticking its tongue out filter, or the flower crown filter as their profile pictures, I just can’t even bear to look at it.

Personally, I am 100% guilty of both of those things, so no hate to anyone. See below:

Also, the complete insecurities and realization that you really aren’t as flawless without a filter comes to light and can really f*ck with one’s self consciousness.

It had seemed to really become a crutch in everyone’s life, creating the mentality of- “I can fix my insecurities with a filter and everyone will think that I am perfect.

Ummm, FYI, none of us are, so why are we pretending?

So Snapchat came and went, and here comes TikTok – which wasn’t anything I ever considered downloading. I honestly thought it was aimed to a younger demographic and I didn’t care to understand it or even try it- and I sure as hell wasn’t going to be creating content on it, so why even bother?

Even through the pandemic, I still didn’t even look for entertainment via TikTok as many people did. My then boyfriend, now husband and I both worked at a hospital, and we were putting in extra hours every week, so the little time we did have for entertainment was very limited we would watch a lot of shows and movies together and slept, a lot.

I honestly couldn’t even tell you when I downloaded TikTok and or why because I don’t remember. What I can tell you is the span between installation and deletion was approximately 3 months max.

At first, I watched some content, and then I would stumble on more content, and before I knew it, CleanTok had found its way into my algorithm. I really enjoyed watching the restocking videos, they were super relaxing and soothing and a great way to help me relax and fall asleep.

Then I started to watch the cleaning videos and the organization videos, and I completely began to spiral. I started purchasing everything the content creators were using: the rubber made electric cleaning brush, The Pink Stuff Cleaning products, a God damn spin mop. Before I knew it I was putting my laundry soap and supplies in labeled jars just like the TikTok creators were doing, and I swore to myself I was “never going to do that, it’s so stupid! Why would I transfer something that’s already in a container into another container.” – Because it’s aesthetically pleasing AF, that’s why.

Next, came the refrigerator organization. Yep, acrylic containers in my fridge to organize my groceries, which to be fair, is a great idea. Far too often we would buy groceries that would go to waste because everything was everywhere in the fridge – keeping like items together made it way easier to know exactly what we had, and it ensured that the food would be eaten instead of tossed because we forgot we had it.

But then, I started unnecessarily buying bullshit just so I could organize it in my fridge. Varieties of drinks, individual snacks, assorted yogurts, Lunchables… if I saw it in a TikTok video I had to buy it too.

Then, I discovered Found It On Amazon…

Now I am not going to tell you that those products are not useful or really good items that I never even knew existed, but at this point I wish I didn’t know they existed because I bought it all – an electric rechargeable lighter, little fuzzy cases to put my glasses in, a mini vacuum to clean my desk, and other numerous amounts of items I surely did not need to waste my money on. I just had to have them, and I don’t know why.

So, at this point Found It On Amazon became TikTok made me buy it and guess what came next… the spice bottle organization.

Here I am with 50 small bottles, a funnel, and 100 pages of different spices, and I am just mindlessly reorganizing my spice rack because it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing to me for all of my spice bottles to not match. In reality, who cares except for me that they don’t all match? Certainly not my husband, who didn’t even notice that I had tackled that project until I pointed it out to him!

So now, I’ve spiraled into an organization, crazy woman, with matching spice bottles, everything in its place (and you better not touch it because I will lose my sh*t), a neat freak, and an absolute clean freak – down to taking my toilet seats off, and soaking them in bleach water as well as the fixtures, taking apart my faucet fixtures to get rid of any unsightly little thing that caught my eye, scrubbing my floors with a rubbing alcohol, boiling hot water, laundry pod, Fabulouso cocktail, and cleaning my bathtub with the toilet bowl cleaner hack and mixing chemicals nearly killing my entire household.

At this point, in my brain, if I am not doing these things, keeping a clean and organized home, doing laundry on the daily, while working a full time job, I’m a sh*tty wife. I started to believe that this is what a wife should be doing, after all, that’s what they are doing on TikTok therefore I should also be doing it because that’s a completely normal way of life. Everything must be perfect.

Every night I would find myself falling down TikTok rabbit holes, spending HOURS on the app, switching between Amazon and TikTok, finding any and all products I could, so I purchase them and try them out myself.

That phase came and went when I started to realize that my spending was becoming problematic and mental health was suffering. I confessed to my husband that I was starting to feel more and more inadequate as a wife because I couldn’t keep up with the things other wives were doing. He agreed with me that I needed to hang it up for a while and not compare myself so harshly to what others were doing. Yes, they are doing these things, but they are also content creators- it was their job and livelihood to put out trending videos and promoting products and very often it was just an illusion of perfection.

It’s not impossible that there truly are people who maintain these cleaning and organization practices on a daily basis – we don’t know their backstory, they could be naturally an extremely organized person, or actually have the time to tackle these tasks.

My issue with TikTok is NOT with the content creators, it is within myself. My lack of impulse control, my insecurities that I am not a good enough wife because I can’t constantly be keeping up with housework and have dinner on the table by the time my husband gets home. It is just not realistic in my every day life, and that is OK. As long as I wake up every day, do my best at work and allocate time to take care of household chores, I am on the right path. Maybe one day I will become that extremely organized person, who is on top of everything, but right now, my life cannot fit that mold and again that is OK.

I have struggled with mental health issues since I was a teenager, although I didn’t understand what it was at the time. When I was 21 I started to see a therapist and started taking medication for depression. It was surmised that I do have bipolar disorder and possibly borderline personality disorder, as I show tendencies for both. Some days it is the hardest thing to do even the simplest of tasks like showering or brushing my teeth, and other days I’m running around like a mad woman and have an extremely productive day. I don’t like it, but that’s just how it is, and I continue to work on it the best I know how.

In conclusion, every person is different, and we need to be aware that not everyone fits the same mold, what works for one person may not work for another. We need to be kinder to ourselves and not hold ourselves up to the standards of others- it’s just not feasible or realistic.

I hope that, in writing this, that my post resonates with others who have had the same struggles that I have had and that it is not something to be ashamed of. Realizing that we are all human and are not perfect is the first step in discovering yourself and what you aspire to be, which should always be your authentic self.

Posted in mental health

Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors: Skin Picking

Raise your hand if you are a chronic “skin picker!” 🙋‍♀️

As long as I can remember having acne, I have been a chronic skin picker. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t leave sh*t alone! Unless you have excellent impulse control- I do not, you are probably guilty of messing with blemishes on your face as well, don’t lie.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid to late twenties that I started to realize that maybe skin picking wasn’t really the satisfaction of attacking that blemish on my face. I started to realize it was an issue with more to it…

Dermatillomania or Excoriation Disorder aka Skin Picking, is defined by Psychology Today as: “psychological condition that manifests as repetitive, compulsive skin picking.”

Psychology Today (Skin Picking)

Skin Picking / Dermatillomania / Excoriation- falls under the category of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors which consist of disorders relating to nail-biting, pulling one’s hair (scalp, eyelashes, and eyebrows), cheek and lip biting. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, often referred to as the DSM, classifies these disorders under the umbrella of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders.

People who engage in Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors do so with or without full awareness and are often triggered by feelings of tension, stress and anxiety, and are found to be a form of distraction and gratification and not a result of being obsessed with one’s appearance. One may also feel the desire to engage in such behaviors even when the trigger is not negative, such as boredom.

According to The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors:

“Research indicates that 2%-5% of the population picks their skin to the extent that it causes noticeable tissue damage and marked distress or impairment in daily functioning.”

The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors- What is Excoriation?

The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors also maintains that a whopping 75% of people affected with Excoriation are female.

Behaviors such as skin picking often begin during early adolescence (ages 10-13, per healthychildren.org) but also can start occurring at any age.

Is Excoriation the same as Self Harm?

I think that it is important to address that even though both behaviors do have overlapping symptoms, they are absolutely not the same.

Per The Recovery Village’s article Excoriation vs. Self-Harm:

“In a person who self-injures, triggers like intense emotions or numbness are too uncomfortable, so self-harm becomes the solution to the problem. It may seem like the causes of self-harm produce the behavior, but it is a lack of coping skills in the individual that sets the action in motion.”

“One of the main differences between excoriation vs. self-harm is repetition. Someone with excoriation could absentmindedly pick their skin hundreds or thousands of times per day. Self-harm occurs much less often, and there is always a conscious awareness of the action.”

“The level of pain is another contrasting point separating skin-picking disorder from self-harm. In self-injury, the behavior is performed to create a feeling of pain, but in excoriation, pain is not a motivating factor.”

The Recovery Village- Excoriation vs. .Self-Harm

Symptoms of Excoriation include:

  • Reoccurring skin picking resulting in bleeding, scabbing, bruising or lesions
  • Skin picking multiple sites on the body
  • Picking healthy and previously damaged skin tissue
  • Repeatedly attempting to stop the impulses and urges picking at skin
  • Targeting areas to pick at such as blemishes, moles, or imperfections on the skin

Long Term Effects:

  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Bleeding
  • Open and exposed wounds
  • Disfigurement
  • Self isolation
  • Shame and embarrassment
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Strained relationships
  • Difficulty with everyday life such as work, school, or social activities

Treatment:

  1. Therapy: Habit Reversal Training / Stimulus Control
  2. Some psychiatric medications, such as SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)

PLEASE NOTE: Some psychiatric medications are occasionally used to treat skin picking disorder, such as SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the best-studied class of medicines for skin picking. HOWEVER, NO MEDICATIONS HAVE BEEN FDA APPROVED OR “WELL ESTABLISHED” FOR THIS PURPOSE.

(WebMD-Skin Picking Disorder- Excoriation)

My Personal Experience With Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors

When I started to notice that I really may have an issue with face picking, I had just started a new, highly stressful, overly oppressive job, after resigning from a job that was also highly stressful and straight up abusive.

I was having trouble with the adjustment, going from a sort of leadership position, back down to the very lowest rank on the totem pole. My potential wasn’t being optimized, my skills were way more advanced than the job I was doing, and extremely bored. Overall, it just wasn’t a good time in my life. It was during this time the obsessive skin picking started.

During the work day I would constantly find reasons to get up out of my seat, walk to the bathroom, lock myself in and obsessively pick at my face. During days my stress and anxiety were high, the more picking I would do. I would pick and dig into my face until it bled, I would wait for the bleeding to stop, wash my face with cool water and dry it off and go back to my desk. No one noticed me there anyway, so I didn’t have to hide my face too much. Day after day, from punching in until punching out, I would constantly pick at my face.

I am also notoriously have been a lip and cheek biter, my lips are constantly ripped up and chapped and the inside of my cheeks are riddled with scar tissue that interfere with my bite plane causing me to bite down on the built-up scar tissue, frequently while eating, and damage the inside of my mouth further.

Some other displays of Body-Focused Repetitive disorders I recall having when I was a child are Trichotillomania related (“hair pulling disorder”) such as hair twirling and twisting really tightly, and chewing on the ends of my hair. I also had Onychophagia (finger nail-biting) pretty badly, and I would also pick and rip off the skin around my cuticles. Luckily I grew out of both by the time I was a teenager, but then I moved my way right on to skin picking, so we won the battle but lost the war with those particular Body-Focused Repetitive disorders.

The picking didn’t stop when I was at home, or anywhere else, to be honest. If I were in a bathroom at a friend’s house, my parent’s house, or even a public restroom, I would look in the mirror for anything I could pick at on my face. The shame and embarrassment that came along with it, I chalked up to the act being embarrassing because it looked like I had horrible adult acne instead of this has spiraled into a straight-up obsessive, chronic issue.

This problem has come and gone throughout my life and for some incredible reason, with the chronic skin picking and having severe cystic acne in my early twenties I have little to no scarring which is pretty unbelievable considering the damage I have caused.

My last bout with a Dermatillomania was about three weeks ago, and I have noticed that the healing process as I have gotten older has significantly slowed down, but I also do tend to pick at scabs as they are starting to heal, so I really don’t know for sure, it could, quite possibly, be a combination of both.

In conclusion, I am very glad to have further researched into this topic, it makes me more self-aware of behaviors and actions I wasn’t even aware that I was doing and why I was doing them.

I hope that this post can help someone struggling with Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors as well.

If you or someone you know is dealing with Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors, please check out the following sources:

  1. The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Disorders
  2. Picking ME Foundation
  3. Psychology Today Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors
  4. WebMD Skin Picking Disorder (Excoriation)
  5. The Recovery Village Excoriation vs. Self Harm

Do you have any type of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors? How have you dealt with or overcome them, if so? Leave me a comment with some words of wisdom!

Posted in mental health

The Pressure Of New Year’s Resolutions

It’s here- 2022. I have been on this planet for 33 years and I, with confidence, can say I have never accomplished one New Year’s Resolution goal I have ever set. But why do so many people, like myself, fail at achieving these coveted goals?

According to Discover Healthy Habits:

In 2021 the most popular New Year’s Resolutions were:

  1. Exercise and Fitness
  2. Losing Weight
  3. Saving Money
  4. Improving Diet

Per the article: “Of those that made a resolution in 2020, 35% kept all their resolutions, 49% kept some of their resolutions, and only 16% failed at keeping any of their resolutions.”

There are tons of reasons for New Year’s Resolution failures including, but not limited to:

  1. Unrealistic Goals
  2. Not Keeping Track Of Progress
  3. Forgetting About Resolutions
  4. Made Too Many Resolutions

Please click here to read this incredibly well written breakdown of New Year’s Resolution statistics and discover what people struggle with when setting these goals.

Reflecting on my past New Year’s Resolutions, I have to admit, I was setting the bar too high for myself. Setting unrealistic goals, standards and expectations for yourself, not only sets one up for failure and disappointment, but also is just mentally unhealthy altogether. It’s such a toxic mindset to have thinking that it is realistic to accomplish unrealistic goals because once the next new year hits, you reflect on what you DIDN’T do VS the things that you actually DID do and accomplish.

Struggling with mental illness issues hasn’t exactly helped form achievable goals for myself in new years past.

For example, past resolutions have included :

  • Lose 70 pounds
  • Save $10,000
  • Buy a house
  • Finish my Bachelor’s Degree
  • Take and pass the RHIT Exam

Realistically, how in the f*ck did I think I could do that all in one years time?!

When broken down one year equals:

  • 12 months
  • 52.143 weeks
  • 365 days
  • 261 working days
  • 8,760 hours
  • 525,600 minutes
  • 31,536,000 seconds.

This year, instead of putting unhealthy, unnecessary, pressure on my fragile little mind, I have made the following list of “goals” for 2022:

  1. Be Kinder To Myself
  2. Live A Healthier Lifestyle
  3. Set Healthy Boundaries
  4. Be Wiser With My Money
  5. Take Time To Do The Things I Enjoy
  6. Find Healthy and Constructive Outlets
  7. Work On My Mental Health

Now, aren’t those goals so much better? Those are goals I CAN commit to because they are healthy and not unrealistic expectations that I am obligating myself to do. These are things that I KNOW I need to work on to move forward with the bigger goals I want to achieve in the future.

In 2022 let’s be kinder to ourselves and others. We can do better.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Have you stuck to your Resolutions in the past? Do you think New Year’s Resolutions are bulls*it? Leave a comment with your thoughts!