Confronting My Issues After A Social Media Overdose

WARNING: I’m going to be extraordinarily honest here. If you don’t want to hear about ugliness in my life, do not read this.

As always, I have to start this post with an explanation for why I haven’t written as much as I’d like here. The very real, very happy truth is I’ve been way too busy with a screenplay which I put to bed yesterday. Yay accomplishments. The very real, very dark truth is I’ve also been struggling hard with my mental illness.

I’m mentally ill. There shouldn’t be a sense of horror at saying that. I am. Of course I am. I’m diagnosed! But I’m starting to confront the scary truth that it might go a bit deeper than I like. This all stems from my apocalyptic fixation I’ve written on before. I’m starting to see how real it is and how susceptible I am.

In the last month, the specter of doomsday has been an almost daily occurrence. There was at least one moment where I went to the movies and came out relieved there wasn’t nuclear war. Then the health care war has raged. That’s led to talk that democracy is dead. And the last part, well the last part triggered me.

The episode I had on Thursday was the ugliest in my entire life. I really think it was. What triggered it was a sudden, very massive overdose of people declaring the sky had fallen. That the government was definitely going full eugenics. That a coup had already happened. That was the only way this awful bill could’ve passed. That we were all going to die.

Today I step back and I see what I read for what it is: A bit much if I’m nice and paranoid delusions if I’m saying what I truly think. Things just aren’t that bad and I think they might not ever get near that. But if you factor in my susceptibility to such talk and my intense emotions over a bill that stands to harm my family, yes I snapped.

All that happened was I screamed and cried a bit until I was talked down logically. Amanda really helped. But the emotions I felt were so intense that removed from the situation, I saw them for what they are: a form of psychosis. And if any event leaves me feeling less certain about social media, it’s this one.

It’s not a new idea for me that I need to consider leaving twitter for my own mental health. After the election and after a few other incidents, I took days off. I’m currently on limited use. mostly for the hype on Guardians 2. It’s really not the worst idea for me.

The problem is social media is addictive. That feed gets to you. Your notifications tab is a drug. When it’s in full blast with 8+ notifications, you have done something right. The reaction I got to the Silbermann issue post was really intense.

It also helps deal with loneliness. my friends have moved away and I’m slowly making new ones. Yes, I’ve got Amanda but I need more. I want to just talk comics & movies. I don’t think it’s so wrong to want an outlet. I don’t have many here.

But that’s one of the evil things about social media. There’s a frequent sense you need to have the correct discussion. If you’re not political 25/8 then you don’t care. You’ll be ignored. You need to be at your angriest all the time.

I noted this after the election of 2004: Being hyperpolitical is a skin I don’t wear well because it requires me to argue constantly and know what I’m supposed to say at every moment. I’m not good at that. I’m not good at being apathetic, but I’m really not good at living every moment in constant war.

But perhaps the hardest thing for me about social media is this: I’m bombarded with input nonstop. I get overstimulated easy. And if I’m bombarded with bleak imagery from, well I’ll be blunt questionable authority, then yes I snap. Because social media isn’t designed to filter arguments. The Wall Street Journal has the same respect as a drunk spewing paranoia there.

I’m a journalist by training. When I admit to these issues, I’m often asked why my job doesn’t trigger the same response. Easy. Being at a newspaper means I’m surrounded by filters. There’s a wall on the information I get that means it’s accurate. Hyperbole gets drained. And I’ve got bad news: Blogs are REALLY awful information sources. Even the “best” have far less accuracy than the Wall Street Journal or The Washington Times.

So this is where I am. I’m looking at what caused the episode and I’m making changes. I pruned my feed last night. I started blocking out the sources I know trigger me. Not to put my head in the sand–please read the two paragraphs up top–but to get healthier. If something is causing episodes of paranoia then NO it is not healthy to indulge in it.

I’m of course still in therapy. That I may never leave. I’m ok with that. I’m going to look into getting on stronger medication too. I’m not sure I want to keep living as if this is just what I am. I have more wrong than just depression and anxiety. That’s ok.

But most importantly, I’m looking hard at social media. It’s an addiction. There are no healthy addictions in the end.

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