Returning to the World
Scrambling back to happiness after an episode of ‘mental health bingo’
There are a few of you out there that have noticed that I’ve been absent from Medium for the past month (and to those I send my deepest affections).
For the three months leading to this absent period, I posted diligently to Medium most days of the week, but like so many before me, I fell away.
At first, I slowed down because the new semester had started and (as a full-time teacher) my plate became suddenly over encumbered.
But not long after this slow-down I had a melt-down, and my joy ground to a complete halt.
I temporarily stopped being a person, and instead assumed the identity of a robot. I put aside what made me me, and instead performed my job as a lifeless object.
What causes this kind of shift?
If you take even a small tour of my Medium backlog, you’ll see that I have some mental health issues.
This isn’t a topic I’m ashamed of, it’s actually a topic I get a lot of joy from talking about.
The more I open the issues lying deep inside, the less ashamed I feel of what I battle with every night when the lights go out.
The most recent battle really knocked me out, and it was a battle I didn’t know I was fighting until it was too late.
It was the battle I would never have predicted.
It was a battle against social media.
Social Freaking Media
I’ve come to the recent conclusion that social media is just like anything else. Some people can handle it, some people can’t.
Thanks to social media, we’re all able to contact absolutely anyone else in the world at any time.
This is an immense power we have no training or preparation to weild.
Through this power, we can use others from a million miles away, and we in turn can be used.
The best and worst thing about social media is its ability to stay hidden. Unfortunately though, the more we think we’re hiding, the more there is to reveal when everything is suddenly brought out into the open.
It turns out that I’m a bad judge of who should and shouldn’t be talked with over social media. This is something I already addressed in a Medium article previously and seem to not have learned from.
It seems some lessons need to be taught more than once unfortunately.
So long story short, I talked too long with the wrong people and was shot down in the heat of battle. I didn’t look out for my own mental health, and was defeated before I knew what was going on.
You know what defeat looks like if you’ve ever really experienced it.
Food has no taste, and you can go for days without thinking about it. All your favourite hobbies seem like an aggravating waste of time.
Suddenly the floor seems preferable to a bed.
Starring at a wall or a couch has never seemed more appealing.
Time means nothing, friends mean nothing, it’s almost a total numbness that takes over 80% of your body.
The remaining 20% is a core of pain that sits somewhere in the middle of your torso. A stabbing feeling that starts from the minute you wake up and assaults you all day long.
In my case, therapy is worth its weight in gold.
Understanding yourself and your triggers are really important. It’s important to understand what breaks you, and know how to strengthen yourself so that they can’t break you in the future.
Know what triggers you badly, and distance yourself from that trigger. While you’re distanced, Undertake strategies that can build your strength for the next time a battle presents itself.
I’ve taken the step of disabling most of my social media accounts (not Facebook), and am learning to live differently. I read more books, and I find more constructive ways to fill my time.
I can’t believe how often I use to check Instagram, and for what?
During the first week of being cut off I found myself searching for the app constantly, because my brain would entirely forget that I’d disabled it.
I badly wanted it back, but day by day the compulsion grew quieter.
I quickly filled in the gaps and now I’m a lot happier for it.
I’m certainly not “fixed” but I’m on a better path. I’ve resumed some of my old activities that use to give me a lot of joy, and I’ll be writing about them here on Medium (so get ready for a lot of fermentation stories).
I’m seeking more love and joy, and I’m finally seeking them out in person, rather than on a screen.
I know that sentence has alienated everyone my age and below, and to you I understand the cringy expression plastered over your face.
But to you I also say, some people can social media, and some can’t.
Make sure you’re someone that can handle that level of connection and exposure, it can take more of a toll than you may suspect.