Tag Archives: social media

The things you don’t see on Facebook…

As I write this, I’m sitting on the chaise end of an enormous comfy couch located in a gorgeous penthouse suite at the tippy top of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Lagoon Tower in Honolulu, Hawaii. I have a view of Diamondhead Crater and Waikiki Beach through the gauzy balcony curtains. This moment is 100% Facebook-able. Not unlike the large number of other Facebook-able and Instagram-worthy moments I’ve posted since departing the chilly Wisconsin fall in favor of the sandy beaches, aqua ocean, and tropical climes of Oahu early Saturday morning.

intro pic

I posted about the upgrade to first class on the 6+ hour flight en route from Salt Lake City to Honolulu that Seth gifted to me and the mai tai I was offered the second I sat down. It was super sweet of Seth and definitely a cush way to travel, I think I captured that… but I didn’t describe the anxiety the began to plague me the second we left our house on Friday evening. I didn’t describe the panic it turned into before we boarded that plane in SLC. The heartbeat that wouldn’t slow down, the breaths that became increasingly difficult to take, the feeling that something was stuck in my throat and sitting on my chest, the tears that wouldn’t stop coming, over and over again for almost the entire 6+ hours.

This is what anxiety looks like. (On me, in that particular moment.) Not exactly a new profile picture.
This is what anxiety looks like. (On me, in that particular moment.) Not exactly a new profile picture.

We met our friends in the airport — I quickly confessed my unwavering anxiety to Melissa and she rapidly and genuinely assured me that she loves me no matter what. I believed her. Mostly. But not entirely, because anxiety…

But then again, gratitude, you know? And this place, this vacation, these friends — so much gratitude. And we were in Hawaii, and I was wearing a beautiful lei, and I posted a (tired) selfie with the words “Aloha!” and a smattering of super fitting emoji. I posted a snapshot of our view and showed everyone the perfection that surrounded me. And it was good.


Chris came to join us from his hustle bustle, fancy wedding-in-the-mountains lifestyle on Sunday afternoon and he made dinner plans for us at Roy’s Waikiki. (Have you been there? This sentence, how is this my life?) As we piled into the car and headed down the beach, I felt the panic rise again. There were tears burning the back of my eyes and a tightness in my chest I couldn’t swallow away. There was no reason, yet over pre-dinner drinks Halekulani, Seth put a hand on my back and asked me if I was ok and I lost it. Lost it and couldn’t get it back. There was this picture that Chris took, and it’s nice. But I can see the white knuckle grip my fingers have on my own arms, the strained smile, the panic…


Dinner was lovely. I had a perfectly cooked local butterfish in a deliciously complex orange sauce followed by a few bites of chocolate souffle perfection for dessert. That’s all Facebook-worthy, Twitter-perfect… but the moments in the fancy bathroom spent messaging my mental illness guru (<3 <3 <3) and fighting tears and the constriction in my chest at the table… not those. Those (plus Seth’s, shall we say, insistent urging) were enough to convince me to message my psychiatric nurse practitioner about perhaps calling something in for me — a temporary solution to get me through the flights home before I get back to Wisconsin and into the clinic.

I was so hesitant to take the drugs. Depression is my thing. Not anxiety. This is not me. Was not me? And the Hawaiian restrictions on prescriptions for anxiolytic drugs that wouldn’t allow the local pharmacy to fill the Rx faxed in by my provider (I get it though, Hawaii, I really do — and I’m totally not upset) and the necessity to seek out a walk-in clinic and explain my situation all over again nearly did me in. Fortunately, my sweet husband and amazing friends didn’t give up on me and, with their encouragement, I did what I needed to do to get some help. I went to some weird places and walked some strange roads through Honolulu on Tuesday, but met the “helpers” that Mr. Rogers (the elderly, sweater-wearing, shoe-changing variety) tells us about and got the help that I needed for now.

It was on Monday, as I pondered the absolute absurdity of my goings-on that I thought about all that I was showing and all that I wasn’t and how utterly ridiculous it is for me to know with absolute certainty that that is true about myself, but to constantly and consistently doubt the same must-be-fact about others. We don’t post selfies in the lobby of the Japanese-only (except apparently not because they treated me) walk-in clinic we stumble into while in Hawaii. We don’t become facebook friends with the also Japanese MA who hugged me when I told her I had a miscarriage a few weeks ago and then told me about her own journey through IVF with no success; the woman with whom I shared a surprisingly sweet moment of sadness and mutual understanding. We don’t chat about the kind Walgreens clerk who explained Hawaiian prescription laws and then discussed our mutual love of the Packers and cheese with me while waiting for my sketchy almost-in-Japanese-but-from-a-Hawaii-licensed-prescriber prescription for valium to be filled. Nope. We post the leis and the luaus and the sunset and the smiles. Because those are the things that belong on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever the kids are using these days.

But then again… Tuesday night happened too. And while some of it made it to Facebook, the most amazing bits are relegated forever to my memory because, well:

black sky

iPhones, at least in my hands, don’t take pictures of stars. Facebook can’t really capture the beauty of Melissa’s face when she looked up and nearly screamed, completely giddy from altitude and excitement, “is that THE MILK from the Milky Way?!! Am I seeing the milk???” You guys… it was the milk. The faint light of millions and billions of stars in our beautiful and enormous and amazing and mind boggling galaxy. The milk.

But not just that. It was the whole trip. The warm sun and strong breeze on the ground in Kona while we ate lunch overlooking a little harbor. The stop at the little abandoned sheep station for dinner on our way up. The stars, the stars, the stars. I saw Cassiopeia and followed her arrow to the north star. We saw a dusty little nebula, a star cluster that might as well have been fluorescently stained cells in a dish (the feeling that I had seen that before, wow), and even a glimmer of the “nearby” spiral andromeda galaxy.

The next day, we came back to Oahu early and then headed to the Polynesian Cultural Center as Super Ambassadors where our sweet guide Danica took us from island to island where we heard music and helped to make it, watched beautiful dances and shook our hips as best we could when they taught us how. The Maori gave me goosebumps, the Samoans made me laugh hysterically, and the Ha Breath of Life show brought tears to my eyes in a truly good way.

music in fiji

I took pictures in all those places, at all those times. Facebook-worthy, Instagram-perfect pictures — but there’s no way to capture it all. I can show you the pictures, but I can’t show you the best parts. I can’t describe to you how beautiful my friend was when she saw that milk, how happy my husband was to have finally made it to the top of Mauna Kea. There’s no way to adequately explain the feelings, the real meat of the experience.

And that’s really my point I think. I can post things about my miscarriage, my grief over the loss of our first baby, and the consequent (I think) anxiety and panic I’m experiencing. But even if you know, even if you have experienced it yourself, you haven’t had my experience and I haven’t had yours, so there’s a whole depth there, beyond social media and even the words, words, words I share here, that we really can’t cross. Similarly, you have had beautiful experiences — weddings days and amazing vacations, deep and important friendships and tiny perfect moments — and so have I, but again, there’s a depth of experience that make these things so personal, so uniquely our own, that no amount of photo sharing or photo shopping can ever really capture or convey what it meant to be there, to have lived it.

But it can give us a clue — a clue that something is worth digging in over. Several years ago, when a friend of mind posted something hinting at depression, I messaged her. And a couple days ago, when I found myself in that fancy bathroom, we had another nuanced and deep conversation, despite the panic, that was exactly what I needed in that moment. Similarly, Aunt Becky, PhD, saw our pictures of the sunset from Mauna Kea on the Big Island and was reminded of her own sunrise trip to the top of Maui’s Haleakala and shared her own beautiful photos, reminders of another beautiful experience, with me.

Life is so complicated and messy, yet it sets up up for so many moments that are beautiful beyond words. Sometimes we manage to capture some of that beauty and little snapshots of frustration or grief. It’s not the whole truth, though. It can’t be. We can only live what’s real and show the highlight reel. There’s no other way to go about it. And, for me, it’s so important to remember that the beautiful, picture perfect moments are only a very small fraction of the story, but that all of the experience matters.


On Monday night I was in a complete state (as I imagine a genteel southern woman would delicately call the messy ball of anxiety I had become). I went up to our room, took a sleeping pill, and came back down to say goodnight. But my sweet friend Melissa saved me from myself. We went out onto that beautiful penthouse balcony and I sobbed about my miscarriage, the struggle with infertility, the unfairness of it all… the pain, the grief, the self-pity. I unloaded it all. It was not pretty. And then I couldn’t stop apologizing because one of my biggest fears before we left was being the ruiner of vacation — I couldn’t bare the thought of ruining this beautiful trip for people I love so much. Instead, my friend said to me, with the most Melissa-y quiet confidence the likes of which I have never seen in another person, that she was sure we would look back on this trip someday and be grateful for this moment. This moment that felt so ugly and pathetic, yet truly was deepening and strengthening for our friendship. She talked about how well we’ve walked together through the highest of highs (our vacation dossier is ridiculous) and how this was truly our first opportunity to run our friendship through the lowest of lows. She’s right, of course. And those are the things you would never see on Facebook.

What Hatha Yoga with Rudra Taught Me About the “Like” Button

A friend of mine from back in the day (Y-town for LIFE) recently posted an interesting entry on her blog and it got me thinking for days. It just kept popping back and back and back into my head. I loved what she said, but I also had a million alternative thoughts about the topic floating around and kind of wanted to write a rebuttal. It’s one thing to just come out here to this space and point-by-point rebut someone like Matt Walsh whose goal in life seems to be to get people riled up (and is he ever good at it!), but it’s different when it’s the musings of a friend… so I asked her what she thought.

I hemmed and hawed about it for a while because I didn’t want her to think I was some sort of jerk, but I just felt like I had so much to say and I wanted to discuss… here… with you… I finally got up the courage to send her a message while I sat on the runway in Lacrosse waiting to be re-fueled and re-flight planned and was just about out of things to do so I messaged Kacey. Her response was so excellent! She was totally cool with me running with her topic du jour (she’s kind of just cool like that in general) and so here we go! (Let’s check real quick on the jerk thing… Kacey? Or perhaps we should wait until the end…)


Kacey’s basic premise, and please forgive me if I’m misinterpreting, was that social media platforms like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and the like, tend to be self-centered and focused on a culture of “look at me!” … that the desire for shares and likes and comments and such is really a desperate need to be acknowledged. And that that’s why many of us do it– to get the like or the comment or the share, to be acknowledged.

I don’t necessarily disagree, exactly, my rebuttal is more the notion that, at least in my mind, that all of that is ok. It’s ok to ask people to acknowledge you. (Hence the large number of times I’ve actually used the phrase “ACKNOWLEDGE MEEEEE!” both in this space and in real life… it’s like Kacey was speaking directly to me!)

It was so interesting to me that Kacey and I could do the same thing (blog) and use the same types of social media and ultimately take away such a different message from it. I was fascinated by that and I kept turning the notion of WHY that was over and over and over in my head until I think I finally stumbled upon something when I received an email reply from my long lost friend Lotisha who is Pauly-Shore-style in the army now. Literally.

Lotisha and I were labmates back in DC and I just adore her. She’s the tiniest person with the biggest attitude and after I got over being terrified of her I realized that I actually looooved her. And one of the things Lotisha and I loved to do together (besides give mice gonorrhea) was take fitness classes. Mostly through Montgomery County. And it was with Lotisha that I took my first ever yoga class. Hatha Yoga with Rudra.

I went into yoga class expecting a workout with emphasis on strength and flexibility. Rurda, however, was a sweatpants-wearing, afro-haired, Costa-Rica-yoga-retreat-bound man who was way into yoga as a practice, not just as an exercise, and during our first class he taught us what the word namaste meant.

According to Rudra, saying namaste to someone else or even to yourself was equivalent to saying “I salute the inner light within you.” I of course looked it up after that and it’s hard to say if that’s true exactly, except that it is widely acknowledged as a respectful greeting or goodbye. Regardless, I like what Rudra said. A lot. (Now. Then I was all “oh snap, this is weird, I don’t think I like it,” but I was wrong as I so often find myself to be.) And I think, to me, the “like” button is really more of a namaste button– a way to acknowledge the “inner light” of another person’s activity, selfie, food choice, witty quip, photo-of-babies-doing-baby-stuff, whatever. The thing about it, whatever it is, that resonates with me.


Of course like any other living, breathing human, Facebook also infuriates me at times. It incites major jealousy, constantly feeding my little green monster (30-ish? on Facebook? there’s LOTS of babies, of which I can have none). And, although this may surprise you, this big square head of mine doesn’t often photograph very well and the pictures I do end up posting tend to be the very best chin down, tongue-to-roof-of-mouth, least squinty eyed, minimal frizz, good angle photos that happen. When given the opportunity to paint yourself, why not paint your best self… the self you feel most comfortable with? Leave the dirty laundry for the old blog.

The important thing, for me anyway, is the attitude I choose to approach it with. I can’t possibly be the only one painting my best face out there… which means other people probably aren’t always as gorgeous/happy/un-double-chinned as they appear. Right? (Although I suspect the babies are for the most part real. The monster! So green!) The thing is, I see these perfect posts, these lovely brush strokes on social media because I choose to and because I enjoy it. I am apparently totally cool with voyeurism and I love to see what people are up to. I also love that it keeps me connected with people I otherwise wouldn’t be connected to. Like Kacey! And her blog!

Even amongst the perfect pictures and the happy statuses though, we do still catch glimpses of the truth. And when we recognize those things, those little winks that were meant just for us, we can acknowledge them in another way altogether– it’s the behind-the-scenes connections that might be a little more meaningful.

Because of Facebook, I re-connected with Dawn. Erika recognized my hurt and cheers me on day after day. Kacey and I are blog buddies. Nicole and I became friends, like real friends, long after college.

Because of Twitter, I got a couple blog posts re-tweeted by the Chris Lema and traffic, traffic, traffic on account. It let me keep up with my friend Dr. Kanth on his interview journey.

Because of Instagram, I get to keep up with #ohellabella and to see a #dailydoseofaddisyn. I also get sneak peaks into Mindy Kaling‘s life (yessss!).

And because of this blog, regardless of whether you like it, read it, share it, comment on it… or not… I have an outlet. I can share my words with anyone who happens to stumble across them. I share my ideas with people who are free to agree or disagree. Read on or roll their eyes. Whatevs.


That’s the beauty of the internet. It’s let’s us connect.

Or not.



Or keep scrolling.


You choose.


End rebuttal.


How about now, Kacey? Not a jerk, right? Just more rambling along the same lines. We’re all friends here 🙂