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It was just a feeling, not even a thought that I was aware of. Just a feeling that started to physically determine itself in long nights that attacked my ability to sleep and relax. With each turn of my shoulder, each smarting, blink of my eyes, and a little less sleep one thought would be followed by another and then another until my head was full of uncontrollable pictures of the past and of the future.
My nighttime companions are now fear and anxiety.
It began with Facebook, my playground for positive thought sharing. "Hi" to friends as invitations were sent out, a congratulatory place to compliment, my place to view works of art by my favorite pre-Raphaelite artists. I prided myself in only having friends that I had met in person and that I always posted positive photographs and quotes. Encouraged by my new confidence in social media, I decided to open a Twitter account.
As a young woman, I had been a staunch pacifist, not an activist, but a believer in compassion and empathy and equal rights. Racism was a state of being that repulsed me. During my years of motherhood and working with disabled people, these issues seemed to take a back seat as I put my compassion and positive energy into caring for my family and the clients at work.
In this last year reading Twitter, I have come to realize how my life had diluted that idealistic young girl, that the words of my heroes like Maya Angelou and John Lennon, to name a few, had become buried inside myself. I suddenly found the angst of my youth ignited as though ready to do battle.
The Twitter adversaries are real. Untouchable creatures of authority. I became perplexed by my inability to reach out and be heard. Twitter, I believe, is the arena for self-righteous thought. To my detriment, I found I could match any pompous tweet with my own. Although I could remain respectful in my correspondence. I believe that abusive language will not be taken seriously or dismissed. I stick to facts while condemning the next slanderous tweet. Some people agree with me, but there are so many people filled with anger and hate. It is depressing to be called "a lover of terrorists" when that is not what I am trying to say. I feel I was not being listened to but I would not engage in an argument. I would reiterate that "You are entitled to your opinion, as I am mine, but as you don't know me you are wrong." I found terminology to insult someone's beliefs is especially annoying. With a sigh, I tweet "How is a snowflake an insult? Snowflakes are beautiful, individual, and together they are strong. Can't they create a helluva storm?"
I am insulted not only personally but on a collective level. I am working class, I follow history and the fight of working men and women to have equal rights, health care, and jobs. I come from the northeast of England wherein 1936, 200 men had marched 300 miles from Jarrow to London demanding jobs and an end to extreme poverty. I believe in the social values of equality, I love my country, however troubled its history. I have watched documentaries about the history of the Americas, Europe, and China. I am not an expert but I am anxious that some people cannot see history repeating itself. My own country is about to commit suicide by leaving the EU or is it? I angrily maintain that the Brexit vote is a racist vote I hold my head in shame at the tweets from the far right who are exuding their hate for Muslims.
Today I got up from my unslept bed, groggy with a pervading headache and heard the President of the United States talking about the possibility of World War 3. Where will this end? Always old men sending young men and women to war. For what goal?
In the quest for peace? That's the shame of it all. Hiding the truth of their end game. I can feel my anxiety rise again after a restless night...
Some days I log out of Twitter and Facebook because I am aware of the hypnotic effect of the world's news and tribulations is increasingly having on me. Yet eventually, the fear of not knowing what the President is tweeting and my own government is doing is too much to bear. I am anxious without Twitter, as much as with it. So I log back on.
This afternoon I decided I need to find a compromise. My anxiety engages my depression through an inability to be heard and help solve the problems of the world. I desperately need to get a good night's sleep and put an end to the recurring topic of conversation that throws questions in the air with no definable answer.
I believe I have upheld my integrity as a compassionate person. I need to treasure this and use it in all the aspects of my family, friendships, and working life, in the hope of finding some personal peace. Accepting social media is a platform for all opinions and that I cannot control anyone's responses or change their beliefs is something I must muse on until it is my first thought when logging on.
Finally, I truly believe that part of me will always be that idealistic teenager while my adult self is beginning to recognize that social media can be bad for my mental health... but only if I let it.