Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why I Needed a Break From Facebook

I have stayed on Facebook for a lot longer than I should. The truth is, for a long time I really enjoyed having it. It was the only way I stayed in touch with a lot of people in my life. Friends who had moved away or just gotten busy. It enabled me to share pictures and stories of my kids and any adventures we were having with family that I rarely ever saw. It gave me a place to let my brain throw up when I needed to get things off my chest. It allowed me to remain safely in my own world and still feel a part of the rest of the world and the lives of my friends...which as someone suffering from mental illness, it allowed me to straddle both worlds safely. Or so I thought.

In reality, it had begun picking away at me. It was swallowing me.

I was drowning in sensationalized misery.

There are so many good things that come from social media, but it's a fine line to walk. Eventually I had to realize that I needed a break.

Every day was spent scrolling through anxiety triggers. Horrible pictures of tragedy shared over and over again by news outlets, bloggers, and ordinary people. I couldn't handle seeing these pictures and videos over and over again. Having to "Hide This" ten or fifteen times in a day just to keep from breaking down in the bathroom. I'm an empath. I have severe anxiety. All it takes is an image to reduce me to a pile of tears and snot on the floor for two days.

I was inundated with opinions. Things I was doing wrong as a mother. Things I was doing wrong as a wife. Things I was doing wrong as a daughter. Things I was doing wrong as a sister. Things I was doing wrong as a human. As a friend. As an adult. As a driver. As a gardener. As a bill payer. Do I need to go on? What is worse is my need to comment on all of it. The posts. The blogs. The horribly spelled memes.

I was exhausted by how much nonsense and misinformation was constantly shared, re-shared, and made viral. I was tired of feeling the need to comment on that crap too.

I was overwhelmed by everyone's good fortune while I seemed to be wallowing in ordinary life. Did everyone else REALLY have it that easy? They had great jobs. They made lots of money. They never had to choose between paying the electric bill and the rent, or the car payment and the cable, or the insurance and the phone bill. They always had money for vacations and new cars. They always took their kids on day trips and to super fun restaurants. We were eating hot dogs for the third time this week.

It seemed everyone was fit and fabulous, and I am here struggling to get my medication/pregnancy weight to just stay the hell under 200 lbs. People are constantly posting pictures from marathons and mud runs and yoga poses and gym mirror shots and flattering Crossfit shots of jumping on boxes and shit. I am over here sweating my way through 25 jumping jacks every day and hiking up the street pushing a stroller, dreaming of cupcakes and eating salad and my weight is barely budging. Everyone looks fab. I look like a cow. Then a picture of myself from six years ago would pop up, I would remember that I still had those jeans in the closet, and I would sink even deeper.

I was so tired of feeling isolated. My stressful job, my depression and anxiety, my devotion as a mother has kept me as an introvert the last few years. I am not an unhappy person, but I struggle with mental disorders that affect me deeply and keep me to myself a lot. That are hard to talk about and even harder to make anyone understand who doesn't know from experience just how complicated it is. How hard it is to get myself out of the safety of my home. I think I am an ok person to hang out with, but people don't really ask you to hang out anymore after a while. Plus, I am usually with my kids. I am happiest there. But to see everyone you know out and about and hanging out with their friends makes you feel a little...well, diseased. You feel lonely. You feel replaced. You feel a little bitter. Mostly you just feel invisible.

One day you would realize someone had blocked you. I would drive myself crazy trying to figure out why...even if it was someone that I didn't give a rat's ass about. It would destroy me to know that I did something or shared an opinion or a photo or something that disgusted someone to the extent that they could not see any fragment of my existence anymore.

I was really over the vanity aspect of it all. Everyone takes the occasional selfie. I take them with my kids, and struggling with my weight, I would happily post ones where I looked good. There are folks who post them every. Single. Day. It doesn't matter how much I like you, I eventually grow tired of seeing the many versions of your face.

Mostly though, I was just tired of spending so much time and effort in a place that made me feel so bad about myself. A place so competitive. So full of anger, hate, misery...often hidden behind smiles and inspirational quotes. The negativity was draining.

I needed to let my head clear. To remember that I was important. That I didn't need validation from 600+ people, most of whom didn't think about me at all, ever, unless they saw a picture of me as they scrolled their news feed. I have a list of friends who probably don't even like me. Hell, I don't even know if my family likes me most of the time based on Facebook, and I really can't be bothered wondering anymore.

So I didn't block anyone (unless they are harassing you with pictures of their wiener or being a fucking pervert, I think that is childish anyway) or unfriend anyone or agonize over any of that. I just disconnected. I am sure I will go back eventually, but not now. Not for a while.

There is too much sunshine outside. And I don't need to tell anyone about it.

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