Shortly before my departure from my church last year, I asked for counsel from a good friend about this decision. She suggested I make a sign that said “choose health,” put it somewhere I’d see it frequently, and follow its advice. In that context, it meant prioritizing my mental health over the demands of a toxic congregation.
Now, as I’m practicing social distancing — working from home, living with just my cat, going out only as needed — “choose health” has a very different meaning.
One thing I’ve developed a skill for is knowing when to step away from social media. Like Ross and Rachel, we’re always on a break, never a breakup.
(Though now that I recall, they did break up on that show, didn’t they?)
This time, I’m taking time away from Facebook and Twitter in particular. There are a few reasons, chief among them a need to reclaim some free time for NaNoWriMo next month. I’m also noticing that I’m getting angry over social media interactions as much as real-world tragedies, which is so very wrong.
I just can’t give the same spite to Ellen befriending George W as kids locked in cages in detention centers. Ellen’s friend group — and no, under no circumstances would I befriend W., just to be clear — don’t really matter.
I would rather reserve my anger for things that matter. Like, you know, the fact that our country is locking kids in cages. But that’s difficult when the topic du jour changes every damn hour on social media.
It’s like being locked in a white room with wall-to-wall computer screens, each displaying a rotating mix of tabloids, tragedy, shouting matches, and cat videos. Eventually the distinctions blur. (I’d like to keep the cat videos, of course.)
Naturally, like coming off of any addictive substance, there’s a serious drop in dopamine during a withdrawal period. Let’s just say I’ve been watching a lot of restoration videos on YouTube lately.
I’ll continue posting here, of course, especially as NaNoWriMo gets into swing. So I’ll see you folks around.
My alarm woke me at 3:30 AM on a Saturday morning, which hadn’t been a regular occurrence for over ten years — not since I worked logistics at a big retail chain. I chugged some coffee/energy drink mix from a can, pulled on my hiking clothes, fed the cat, grabbed my gear, and drove to meet my friends.
My friend Trude had invited me to join her and Diane on a bird safari around Lake Apopka. Trude won it at a church auction; I had to back out when the bids rose above $200. Diane would drive and point out interesting specimens; Trude would take pictures; I, with a tremor that makes it difficult to handle a camera, would observe through binoculars.
Nature is way more interesting with knowledgeable friends and a deliberate pace.
There’s been a persistent numbness lately, as if a circuit board in my brain was shorted in a power surge and lies dead and smoldering. So, so many things have happened — are happening — are about to happen — that they cannot be processed. Like logs down a river, my feelings have caught on the banks and jammed.
After my post about Harvey, we Floridians, as well as those in the Caribbean islands, had to deal with Irma. I evacuated with a friend to Tallahassee for several days to wait out the storm, worried about family and friends who stayed behind. After two weeks of gas shortages, empty grocery stores, and awful traffic, I made it home, my apartment just as I had left it.
And then there was a family crisis.
And then we had to worry about Maria, on the heels of Irma and Jose.
And now TrumpCare is back.
I feel beyond tired. All I want to do is sleep for a week. I know that it’s compassion fatigue, that it’s probably lingering sleep deprivation, that it could be a depressive episode. 2017 hasn’t been a cake walk by any stretch, but it feels like this past month has been the worst. And there are three months left this year.
I need to stay focused. I need to be there for my family, for work, for my writer friends and for my church community. I need to be here for someone I’ve just begun to know. My stories still need me to write them.