Digital exhaustion

Aren’t you exhausted? Haven’t you had enough? Artificiality digitally sprinkled in our lives; comments, likes, a peep hole into people’s superficial lives, more lies, hurt hearts, hiding behind smiling faces, silent disdain and judgement; a deperate craving for validation in lieu of privacy given to armies or marketers, hornily lusting after your everyday thoughts, feelingsl your passions, it’s all a commodity to them.Nothing but one neverending marketplace, one algorithmic shift in mediocrity and we’ve all fallen for it, our need to feel connected in an even increasingly disconnected world is their gain and our loss. Seems over dramatic to a certain extent but I’m not the one who feels their souls crushed by this addictive chaotic online space, I’m just more apt to admit it

Unplugging from social media

I wanted to make a blog update about how I have stopped using social media and I wanted to use this as a diary and track my progress and hopefully inspire anyone who reads it. As many of you know, I have struggled so much with social media and its effects on my mental health. I used it addictively, I compared myself to people and I began to define myself and take on my online persona as if it was an extension of the real life.  Five days ago, I deactivated my Facebook account after feeling triggered by pretty much everything on Facebook. I had done this before and only managed half a day to a day, I never made much progress. Sometimes I’d not post for a week but I’d still be on the site all day, scrolling or interacting in groups and continuing to be triggered by all the stimuli on my screen. But this time felt different, I have been having a mental health breakdown and something in me snapped and I felt that my sanity was at stake. That night I deactivated the account; my mind was racing so fast that I tossed and turned awake for nearly four hours, this was dire. I knew that social media didn’t cause my anxiety and leaving it wouldn’t cure it but it was a major stressor and it needed to be removed.

The first day or so, I was very anxious, I kept thinking about everything I was missing, I woke up and automatically thought to check my phone for notifications and of course none were there.  I wondered if I had made a mistake, if I was going to log back in, I thought maybe it was a bad idea, I needed mental health support and all my “friends” were on there, I’d miss them. I wondered if they would notice that I was gone. I missed the validation, the attention, the feeling of having something to say and have people listen. I missed the likes and the comments and in thinking about it, I realized how little all of that meant. Reactions and comments have no value in the world, I haven’t achieved anything, it doesn’t get me closer to my goals or to making friends in the here and now.  But yet I lived for it, to the point where it destroyed my mental health.

The more time away from social media I was, the clearer things became, I had insight. I was able to see that I, like everyone else, had created an online persona and I essentially believed my own hype, I was a mental health advocate, I was sensitive, I was altruistic, I lived to help others, it was total bullshit, At the end of the day, it was all about me, how much attention I could receive, painting myself in the best ( and most sympathetic light), it was all about being in the spotlight and I loved it. Is my story genuine? Yes. Are my feelings the truth? Certainly so. But my reasons for sharing them are questionable, even to myself. I got a certain reaction when I share certain things, so I continued, behavior reinforced. If I was depressed, I’d ramp it up, to get the validation I needed to make me feel heard. And Facebook and its algorithms enforce this narcissistic behavior; because that’s what it is narcissism is: obsession with self.  The sadder you are or the angrier you get, the more Facebook show it in your followers newsfeeds, people love controversy. It hurts to write and it makes me sick but if I am to heal and grow as a person and be an advocate, I need to speak the truth, even if that truth is ugly. I am determined to do my part to spread the consequences on mental health from using social media sites, it’s serious. And I find it rather ironic to discuss mental health on a platform that is so detrimental to mental health.

But so far, there have been so positive effects, like I said earlier, I’ve gained insight and clarity as the days pass by. I am more focused and present where I am. When I am at home talking with my family, I never look at my phone and my mind is focused on what they are saying as opposed  the need to constantly check social media hundreds of times a day. I am taking more walks, I am writing and blogging more. I am praying day and night, starting therapy and am sleeping better. I’ve even tried to read before bed, which is something I never did before. I never realized how distracted I was and what an effect that social media had on my moods and how I saw myself. Its only been five days but I feel proud of myself, I take it a day at a time. But I hope to use this experience to help others trapped in social media addiction. There is recovery, it’s hard as hell and it’s lonely at first but it’s worth it when you no longer compare yourself to other’s highlight reels, you no longer have to be something you are not to impress people you’ve never met and you can focus on those around you who are presently in your life. There is hope and hopefully together we’ll beat this. Who’s with me? Unplug and get your life back.

Social media addiction

I am hopelessly addicted to social media, I am on there all day, constantly posting, seeking validation, I live for those likes and comments, I love the rush of my notifications bell going off, it makes me feel connected in a world wherein reality I feel totally isolated ( even before Covid 19). I feel like people understand me online, they judge me less, I can edit myself, I can delete posts, I can create an image of myself that makes me seem cooler and more interesting than I really am. I can live a lie and omit my glaring flaws, that’s what social media is all about

A lot of people knock social media but I actually receive tons of positive support online and it’s such an amazing feeling, I feel like I belong, I run groups, I do live Facebook videos, I am vulnerable, I put myself out there for the world to see and people respond, I have never felt understood and now I do, I should be happy, right? I am but I’m not and therein lies the problem, the joy of feeling connected is short-lived and I log off of social media feeling exhausted and frustrated by the whole thing.

Yes, I get support and I feel connected but I also feel overwhelmed ( even when I get more than enough praise), too many comments, too many messages, too much being in the spotlight, it’s unnerving at times and this constant need to be heard takes everything out of me. Because when the notifications go from a flood to a trickle ( and it always does), I need to make the next post that will get even more likes or comments and I have to respond to everyone to ensure my posts stays in everyone’s feed ( that’s how social media works, you don’t interact with others, you disappear) And to make matter’s worse, the social media algorithm buries our posts so that only a few people can see them and we never see the posts from the friends we care about, so we miss 95% of the movie and only get the end credits. And it makes us feel we are being ignored when in reality social media is toying with our emotions and controlling what posts we see, while our mental health deteriorates as a result,  it becomes an obsession to stay relevant.

And if the amount of likes or comments doesn’t bother me, it’s scrolling endlessly through my newsfeed ( again interacting with others so they will continue to see my posts.) I  see nothing but smiling faces, people with stable relationships, better jobs, more money; taking nice vacations, eating really delicious looking meals, more friends, the list goes on. And of course, after scrolling, I tell myself that it’s a lie, people are only posting their best moments ( a greatest hits album of their life, while mine is the b side) and I’m at home in my pajamas eating microwave spaghetti. People are fake on social media, just like they are in real life, so it shouldn’t be a surprise but it certainly feels real while I’m scrolling. And suddenly I’m comparing myself to my friends on Facebook, I’m not good enough or handsome enough or have enough friends, I am perpetually focused on what I don’t have instead of counting the many blessings I do have.

Lately, I have gotten zero joy out of being on social media, it doesn’t matter how many likes or comments or messages I get, nothing can quell my loneliness or frustration, nothing can satisfy me and I am just numb to the whole experience ( aside from the advocacy work I am doing with other advocates, that gives me joy) I feel a sense of anger and resentment at social media as a whole and it’s no longer healthy, even if I am advocating for mental health, being on social media has become counterproductive and it has hurt my creativity as well, my blog has taken a nosedive since all my energy went toward Facebook and Instagram, it’s a shame, really.

I have been logged out of all social media for two days now and while I feel anxious, I also feel relieved that I no longer have to see highlight reels or worry about likes or comments. My only reason for being on social media at this point is watch videos related to mental health that are a part of advocacy, aside from that I am no longer making posts of my own, I am no longer scrolling, I am taking an extended hiatus from social media, it is the only way to get better and recover from the damaged caused by these addictive platforms.  I can heal, I know I can do it and so can you.

Facing the past

About ten years ago, I had just created a Facebook account and I only had a few friends ( about 10 or 15 people from work and that was it) and I rarely talked to them online. Suddenly I got a friend request from some people in my past and I hadn’t spoken to them in a very long time. I accepted the request and I found myself adding everyone I knew from my childhood and I realized, they weren’t kids anymore, they were adults with families of their own, living their own lives, it made sense logically but not emotionally, like I wanted them to be same as I left them all those years ago. I felt inadequate because I was still struggling with disabilities and mental health issues, I thought back to how I always compared myself negatively to them, the memories flooded backed.

I added people I knew from 12 steps and a lot them were people that I didn’t want to think about ( I had a terrible experience being there) but I added them because I curious to see how their lives turned out and maybe we could reconnect in a positive way. I could feel my anxiety rise and as I saw these long-forgotten faces, I thought to myself “Would they accept me? What would I say to them?” I knew that I had to come to terms with the past that I had tried to bury in my own mind, I wasn’t ready.

I felt scared in front of my computer, knots in my stomach, I got comments and messages from all these people asking how I was after such a long time, it may have meant little to them but it meant a whole lot to me, I actually felt my whole world crashing on me in instant. I messaged a woman I barely knew in 12 steps but she was happy to hear from me, I think she was a waitress somewhere close to where my grandparents had lived when I was a kid and I talked to another old friend who I had known in an alternative school that I later saw in 12 steps, he was about to get married and I remember him saying at the time that he known my brother ( maybe it was through 12 steps) but he was a good guy and a friend,

As I’m talking to all of these people from the past, I kept thinking “What have I done, I’m scared of them” I was listening to music, it was George Harrison, I just lay on the floor, feeling all these intense emotions coming back to the surface; buried feelings, feelings of fear, sadness, trauma, regret that I missed so much. But in that instant ( I didn’t realize it) I began to heal, I couldn’t run away anymore. I had to face my past, in order to move forward. Fear is not the answer, sometimes we gain strength in our most painful moments.

 

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Social media, the anxious trap

I feel really overwhelmed with social media right now, I’m not feeling ignored, in fact, I’m getting love and support than ever and it’s much appreciated, it’s surreal actually to feel like my words and thoughts are resonating with so many people in a such a positive way.

But with all that, it’s tiring, maybe it’s me sharing my brother’s story about suicide live or maybe it’s me posting too much and relying too much on the validation of other’s ( it’s so easy to get hung up on likes and comment and then place your self-worth on that) Maybe it’s seeing post after post where everyone seems happier and more productive than I ( Who isn’t running a group and making live videos these days?) And I know it’s a facade but it still causes anxiety. I also have my own successes but I still can’t help but compare to others in a negative light, I’m never good enough despite my best efforts. Maybe it’s the fact that I never see the posts from the people I care about the most and they never see mine ( or so they say, they most likely skipped through my posts on their newsfeed). Maybe it’s desperately wanting to reconnect with people who don’t want to reconnect with me ( that hurts,)

And some of this is my anxious thinking, it’s hard to tell what is anxiety and reality at times. I just know social media is getting old and very frustrating. I am focusing on my groups at the moment but not on posting or scrolling through my newsfeed ( what an awful waste of time that is), maybe this will help my anxiety. But the worst part is very few people will bother to read this whole post, they make skim it but not absorb the message.

It seems to be that the more connected we are online, the more truly disconnected we are in person, life is funny that way. Sometimes I wish I could throw my computer and phone in the ocean, move to a tropical island and liberate myself from this digital prison, it’s a trap, a crutch and it’s doing harm to us all. 📱😥😒

Life update

It has been such a long time since I have written an update. I am sorry, my advocacy on social media takes up so much of my energy. I have connected with hundreds of people in so many positive ways, I am amazed actually.  I have been doing Facebook lives and I created a mental health group on there and it is flourishing. I am now flooded with messages and comments and it so difficult to keep up and I just haven’t had time to blog but very good things are happening.

I wrote earlier about trying to get a substitution for the required math class which was the only class I had left. I fought the school and pushed for them to either waive the class or give me a substation, I wasn’t optimistic I’d get either. I have a learning disability in math and I failed the course three times even with accommodations, I was hopeless and thought I’d never get my degree. But low and behold, after several meetings, I got a notice that they were going to substitute my math class with Astronomy, no equations or multiplication, heck yeah.  It was a miracle and a prayer answered. And not only did they substitute my class, but I also have the scholarship to help me finish school, my books and tuition are paid for, by the grace of God.

 

So today was my first class and I was anxious because I have had such difficulties the last few semesters, but I went and got through it. The teacher seemed really nice and the classroom is small plus I was able to get the accommodations I need from disability services. I just know I am going to have to really focus and study this semester, this is it, the last hurray and I really want this degree, I don’t want to piss it away, so I have to be determined and I’m going to study my ass off, that’s what I’ll do.  I am just so proud that I have come this far, I never thought in a million years that I’d be this close to a college degree but here I am, a goal realized.

Like I stated earlier, my advocacy has really grown by leaps and bounds, I am reaching more people than I could have ever imagined. I am connected with therapists. Authors, therapists, advocates, entrepreneurs and through networking, my mental health advocacy is growing every day and I feel I am making a huge difference. I have hundreds of people tell me how my words have resonated with them and I am so humbled.  I even am going to be on a mental health podcast and possibly volunteer for a mental health radio show including being a guest, I mean it’s crazy, this wasn’t even possible 4 or 5 months and here I am., I couldn’t be more optimistic.

My volunteer work has also been going well but I won’t be able to help as much because I have school on those days but I will see them at church and will visit when I can, I am so incredibly grateful for all the wonderful things happening in my life at the moment, I pray it continues. And I am going to make more of an effort to update my blog. Thank you as always for listening.

 

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Writing for myself

I made a post last night about giving up writing, I was was frustrated at the lack of feedback I have gotten across all platforms and the irony is that when I made this post, I got the feedback that I had one wanted. But in reading the comments on my blog and Facebook, I realized something, my writing at times has been self serving. It hasn’t been about a means of therapy for myself ( which is what it started out to be), it hasn’t been about helping people although I thought it ( other than myself), it’s been about getting validation, feedback, praise, and that’s not why we write.

I think we should write for ourselves, because we are confident in our words, thoughts and feelings and not worry so much about how our writing is perceived.  Oftentimes, my ego gets in the way, a part of me wants to get credit for being a “Great writer”, when the only critic that matters is myself.   Writing is about expressing oneself and speaking from the heart, that’s how I started. I started out sharing the rawest deepest feelings, I hadn’t shared with anyone and it was so cathartic, I felt this weight off my shoulders and when I realized my writing was affecting people in a positive way, I soared but sadly I took the praise too seriously and that’s where I am today.

I also play into the comparison game, I look at other bloggers and posters on social media and see they get more reactions or shares or comments or whatever and I compare myself negatively as if the amount of likes adds to the value of my writing.  I see other people getting published or writing for magazines and getting accolades and that makes me feel inferior, when I should be happy for fellow writers.. I mean, I have never even tried to publish to an online magazine, I am full of fear and self doubt.   I am  mess of a person with a bit or narcissism sprinkled in, it’s about me, I must have the attention and praise or else I am the worst person on the planet. Man, that sounds terrible but it’s the truth.

So right now I am working on writing, posting on social media without focusing on feedback. Whether I get 1 like and comment or a millions reactions, I am going to share my writing with confidence, with the hopes that it can resonate with just one person ( whether they give me feedback or not)

It is going to be a long road, I am person who struggles with self-worth and constantly needs validation. I don’t know where it come from but it’s always been with me. I used to actually ask people if they liked me ( which of course backfired) and old habits die hard.  If I could only learn to love myself enough where I didn’t external need validation ( because that is unpredictable).   I pray that whatever is going on with me will pass and I can be me again.  Thank you as always for the love and support and putting up with  my bullshit, it’s appreciated

Before the internet

I keep thinking about small window of time in my life before the internet, I was 12 the first time I used it. We went from a 286 Dos computer with a floppy disc and a mouse to a brand computer with a mouse, CD-drive and this new thing called the internet

 

I thought it was so cool that I could read a newspaper in another country, I could chat with anyone in the world, I could look at news headlines of any place I wanted, it seemed like the most incredible thing to me, like so much freedom

 

Looking back I miss the days before though. I miss not knowing what my friends were up to at all times of the day, They were not interested in my every thought and the feeling was mutual I miss not being flooded with negative new stories 24 hours a day and biased opinionated news online ( I mean we had CNN but it was nothing like it is now). I miss days where people actually talked to each other face to face. We were less connected in a sense in yet we were way more connected than we are now. We have the world at our finger tips and can talk to our friends anytime of day and yet we couldn’t be lonelier

 

We had our privacy, no one was reading our messages or using our thoughts and feelings ( data) to sell to the highest bidder. Kids could have a meltdown in public and not worry about some jack ass recording it and uploading it Youtube. They had bullies, but bullying stopped in the school yard and kids were safe in their own homes unlike now, where they are barraged with harassing text messages and mocked on social media

 

The internet was supposed to make the world a better place but in many ways it has made things worse. It’s addicting; full of porn and violent images and nothing of substance or value. People have so much knowledge on their phones in their pockets and they choose to look at bullshit and remain willfully ignorant.

 

Somedays I think we’d be better off without the internet but we can’t go back and we have a generation that doesn’t know a world without the internet. In fact I was the last generation to have gone through my whole childhood without the internet and it was great, we survived, in fact we thrived and we were happier because we didn’t have it.

The dangers of sharing on social media

I was thinking about sharing mental health struggles the other day and the anxiety of being so public. I wonder why I share so much and if I am being judged. Sometimes I regret what I share.

 

But another thought came up and that was the fact that these days, we have very little privacy and it isn’t just our friends and family who are reading our posts. Anyone with the right software can access our social media ( even if we make our posts friends only as opposed to public)

 

We live in a judgemental world and the stigma about mental illness is still very strong and empathy is weakening in our society and there are consequences of sharing too much, beyond our social circles.

 

Something I had never thought about was employers. In their screen process, they hire ‘third party companies to scan social media accounts of potential employees ( which is a gross violation of privacy by the way) And if our social media activity is less than favorable in their eyes ( ie sharing information about personal mental health struggles, it can ruin our chances for better jobs.

 

I find this tactic to be immoral and upsetting. I realize that everything we put on social media is public but it in a sense this is all our personal space to express ourselves to connect with others. Employers checking our social media is the real life equivalent of them breaking into your house, looking at your photo albums, reading your journal, spying on you when you are out social; it;s just wrong and creepy and totally invasive.

 

That being said, despite that, I will continue to speak out about my struggles because I know it is helping people, I want with all of my heart to end the stigma and I can’t do that by being silent or fearful of a judgmental, ignorant world. I know I am helping people and this is my calling and if it means someone in a third party spying company may see it so be it. I’m just trying to make the world a better place and I’m proud of it and if I am judged, than I’ll be judged. I am who I am. ❤ ✌

 

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Church music

We have just been past Easter and I went to a great church with my parents on good Friday, it was actually quite powerful. At the end of the service, we were instructed to walk out in silence, as a way of just taken the sermon in, which made the service that much more powerful. As we were walking out I was annoyed because the people around me were talking among themselves and I keep thinking ” Don’t they have any respect, they can’t be quiet for the 2 minutes it takes to walk out the church?” I said to my mom when we got outside in the parking lot ” This is just like when people clap after a musical interlude in church, it really annoys me because, this isn’t a concert hall, it’s a holy place and you are just supposed to reflect on the music you have heard or maybe be in prayer but the clap cheapens the whole thing, it’s not necessary, sometimes there’s no other response but silence.

It makes me think about something else. As an advocate and a writer a part of me wants feedback on whatever I have written. Like most people, I want a response   And I am slowly realizing that not everything needs an immediate response ( much like the clapping in church).  Sometimes the important thing is that reader of my words, just take it in, reflect on it and that what I say makes a difference. I have said this in many ways but  I like this analogy and am going to use it when my I start questioning whether people are reacting in positive way. It makes no difference the amount of feedback I get,  what’s important are that my words affecting people ( without or without a response) in a meaninful way   So whether my post gets a million likes or crickets, I have faith that this will make a difference in someone’s life. Thank you for reading

Dave