Why do I Post on Instagram?



 Photographer:  Heather Jackson

Photographer: Heather Jackson

I’ve been analyzing  why I post on Instagram. What’s my motivation? What do I get out of it?

I want to be mindful of my actions and the motives behind them. Which means I have to ask myself some tough questions that require me to be brutally honest with myself. 

I share some personal stuff on my social platforms and I never felt like it was because I was looking for sympathy, support, or self-gratification. For me, whenever I was going through a hard time it always helped when I knew I wasn’t alone. That’s why my first instinct when I’m confused, sad, or upset was and is to turn to music. Choosing songs that made me feel like I was a little less alone. Me sharing the lows and challenges is my way of paying it forward since I’m not a music maker. 

I do feel like I’ve been pretty genuine with what I choose to share, especially lately. I try to pack some meaning into my captions to keep things as real as possible. If I don’t then I’m just putting a photo up for the sake of what? Wanting others to see how “awesome” my life is? To maintain my following? Maybe to simply just share some beauty…? But for many it’s to feed the ego. So, what are you willing to admit to yourself? 

There are so many times I’ve posted just to feed my ego. The likes and comments would send shots of endorphins through my brain after posting a photo I thought I looked pretty in. Self-gratification is a drug that is way too easy to get these days. 

As many of you know…I do have sponsors. Sometimes posting is a requirement and having those sort of requirements can make it very hard to always pack meaning into what I put out there. But I am lucky enough to have sponsors who don’t require me to sacrifice my authenticity for them.

I run a business, my sponsors rely on it, and I wish to someday get recognition for my writing. Having more followers can help my career. Which is why I won’t get rid of my account but social media sabbaticals are essential. 

I guess what I’m getting at is I don’t want to post for the sake of posting. I want to post when I have, what I believe, is something meaningful to say. Fuck the algorithms and the click bait. Instagram is already very surface, especially for those that don’t take the time to read captions judging someone’s account strictly based on appearances and photo quality. 

So why do I post? After I post something fairly personal I get lots of messages from people expressing gratitude for my openness and vulnerability. My vulnerability has inspired others to be more vulnerable and open, not on social media, but towards their loved ones. I’ve had young girls write to me saying they look up to me and that I make them feel like anything is possible. I give them hope that the darkness will lift and the sun will shine on them once again. This is why I post. Sharing is way of giving back and offering 1, 2, or 100 people some of the lessons I’ve learned or am learning. I post because I know what hopelessness feels like. And knowing your not alone in that can turn hopelessness into hopefulness.

It may not seem like it right now but we are all very similar and we are all connected. Each person has something to offer, a lesson to teach. Right now, we have a tool that gives us the ability to teach and learn our lessons on a very large scale. Are you going to take advantage of that or are you going to use it to feed your ego? 

I'm Back!

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Yesterday was a big moment for me. Yesterday, I got back on a board for the first time since my accident. It’s been three and a half months since my whole world changed, it’s been that long since I’ve paddled a board down a river. For many that may not seem very long and for a brain injury it’s not. I know people that are 6 months to a year in their recovery and are still unable to be back to their normal activity. I’m definitely not anywhere near my normal activity but I am still extremely lucky. 

When I heard other survivors stories I was both fearful and determined. Scared that would be me. Determined not to let it be. As soon as I could I was doing research to learn what I needed to do to aid in my recovery. My diet changed significantly; I cut out all inflammatory foods (sugar ((except fruit)), dairy, gluten, and grains) and the hardest one caffeine. I ate a lot of fats, veggies, and proteins. I purchased blue light blocking glasses. Spent a lot of money on supplements (lions mane, krill oil, spirulina, turmeric, to name a few). And tried to stick to my meditation routine; despite all the time I had on my hands, meditation is harder than its ever been. ADD is a common symptom of TBI and it’s something I’m still really struggling with; making meditation very very difficult. 

I believe the diet change has had the most significant effect on my recovery. Also, not having to rush back into, what was, my regular life. I took time off work. Gentle walks and stretching were my only forms of exercise for the first couple months. This is probably one of the biggest problems for people coping with a TBI. Many don’t have the luxury of putting their life on hold nor do they have the support to do so. I had a huge support system and my Badfish family made my recovery the number one priority, work could wait. Again, I am very lucky. 

Dealing with a TBI is extremely scary. It’s not like a bone fracture where you know exactly what’s going on and roughly how long it will take to heal. Uncertainty is the only word I can think of to describe it. I watched TED talks from other TBI survivors, reached out to some, and listened to podcasts trying to learn what was in store for me. But every story was different. Sure, we shared symptoms but everyones recovery time and approach were unlike the other. One commonality I found was when their recovery was rushed it only worsened their symptoms and significantly lengthened their recovery time. 

Knowing this, I’ve been taking my time. Being careful not to get my heart rate up, giving my brain the rest it needed. Slowly, I would introduce new activities. Some strength training here, some yoga there. As someone who has used exercise and exploring the outdoors as an outlet and remedy for most things this was very challenging for me. But there was no part of me that was willing to risk it. Even though it was challenging I was never tempted to push it. I attribute this to meditation and the work I’ve put in to detaching myself from the need and desire of instant gratification. I was playing the long game…I still am.

Along with my brain injury I fractured my second metacarpal which kept a paddle out of my hands. My strength was non-existent in my left hand and they attributed that to a missing connection between my brain and my hand; not the fracture. It wasn’t until I started to learn to juggle that it came back. A week after I started juggling we saw a 50% increase in my strength. I had no idea that you could have the muscle in your arms, wrists, and hands but if your brain wasn’t making the connection all that muscle didn’t contribute to your strength.

Once that connection was reestablished I felt ready to get on a board. This experience wasn’t free of fear. I was extremely nervous, so much so I cried as we were pumping up our boards. As the electric pump hummed and I stood over it to check the gauge everything came rushing back. I relived the whole accident. I was so afraid of that pump and didn’t want to be anywhere near it. Nadia, being the intuitive and caring person she is, took over the task of getting my board ready. There was a big part of me that wanted to back out and if I didn’t have Nadia there to talk me through it I probably would have. 

When the moment came for me to plant my two feet and dip my blade into the water I was overcome with emotion. I had no idea what to expect and was so afraid that my paddling skills wouldn’t be there. But lucky for me my balance wasn’t compromised from the injury and I felt strong and stable. Within five minutes of being on the water I was crying again. This time, they were tears of joy. I was finally home. Watching the walls of Glenwood canyon move past me as the river gently moved me downstream was euphoric. My entire body felt embraced by my natural surroundings. 

At first, I experienced symptoms but eventually those melted away. This was more stimulation than my brain had experienced in months. But it was like my brain could feel how good this was for my spirit and so it surrendered. By the end I was utterly exhausted…my body was sore, but I was the happiest person on the fucking planet. I came home, collapsed on my bed and drifted to sleep with a smile on my face. 

It felt so good and I believe paddling is something that I’m going to be able to slip back into my weekly routine. I am so grateful for all the love, support, and help I have received along the way. This has been such a crazy ride.

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 Fueling up with mouthfuls of nuts!

Fueling up with mouthfuls of nuts!

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Depression

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I’ve struggled with depression all of my life. I never identified it as such until the last five years, but its always been there. I’ve become undesirably acquainted with this mental state. When it rears its ugly head I think to myself, “Fuck, not again”. 

For any of you who have suffered from depression you know how crippling it can be. People will try to solve the problem for you by telling you what they think you need. While their intentions are good it doesn’t help. The only thing that can be done is to wait it out. I’m lucky, in that my bouts of depression come in small spurts; one day, maybe two. Once it fades I feel like a new person; ripe with energy and ready to take on the world. But when it hits me it hits me hard and I never know when it’s going to.

I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to move. I just want to lay in bed and zone out to tv….immersing myself into a functional fictional life so I don’t forget that I’ll have that again soon. 

It’s a truly terrible feeling. And the negative self-talk overwhelming. I’ll be forced to cancel all plans and as a result I see myself as a failure. I call myself lazy. And I feel weak for surrendering to the depression. Sometimes it can feel like I’m drowning.

Since my accident these dark visits are more frequent. I guess it’s because my brain is working so hard to heal itself that sometimes it can’t make the happy chemicals. The only things I know to do, the only thing I can do, is shut everyone out. 

It’s a strange experience. To be so pulled to adventure and being around others one minute to wanting just the opposite the next. I start to feel like I don’t know who I am. Wondering which one is the real me? Doubting my ability to accomplish something real when I’m always unsure and worried when this will hit…afraid I will let others down. 

This is my battle. It’s part of who I am. I’ve learned to accept it. As I lay here in bed like I have been for the past six hours I know it will pass. My grandmother is in the living room, she comes and checks on me…asking if I am going to come out…I can’t explain this to her. So, I come out and try to feel something…but theres nothing there…just guilt for being this way.

It will pass, like it always does. But right now I’m in the thick of it. For anyone who is suffering from the same thing I’m not going to give you advice. Just letting you know that you’re not alone.