Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Facebook - A REALITY CHECK!!

Some thoughts on PMDD and Facebook....

So, those of you in their 30's, like me, remember the internet growing from an amazing idea that 'one day, everyone could have the internet in their own home', to what now seems to be something that's integral to everyone's day to day life.

I remember getting the internet for the first time. I was living with my husband and had just had my first child. In those days, I would email occasionally, download free screensavers and visit the odd website. Looking back, the internet then was like one of those huge shopping centres that open up. Full of potential, but only half the shops are occupied and going there feels like a waste of time.

Over the years, I have become more hooked, and have blogged on various sites, attempted to build and run websites and participated on online forums. Before Facebook, I would use chat rooms to meet new people online... The net then, was still quite a lonely place to be unless you had lots of real life friends online too.
After my marriage ended at the ripe old age of 25, I found myself tied to the house with a 3 year old. There was no company, not much of a social life, so blogging, chatting and uploading my artwork to various sites kept me busy. The internet became my friend, my outlet and 'hobby'.

Then came Facebook.

I was a late joiner and an even later user. I sat on Facebook not knowing what to do for about a year.... I found a few school friends, and it was nice to get in touch, but there was a reason you lost touch with around 90% of your school mates in the first place. You make friends at school because you are stuck there with them everyday.. they may live near you and share the same bus. It doesn't mean you will actually really get on that well, like them, or want to stay in touch for the rest of your lives. For some, revisiting the old school days can bring up painful emotions and memories you'd rather not be reminding of.

I was considering deleting my profile but then I searched for my half brother who I'd only ever met once, and I found him! It was through meeting my half brother and sister on Facebook that I became a fan. It was my window into their world, it was a way of staying in contact. I had a reason to stay on Facebook!
I've never been very good at staying in touch. The PMDD means there are a whole other bag of issues surrounding trust and friendships. And lets face it, before email and Facebook, how many letters did you write to stay in touch with people?  
How often did you use the phone to call up random people from your past? It all requires effort, and nowadays Facebook is the laziest option.

As a sufferer of PMDD, I was then faced with all sorts of new emotions to deal with.
I had experienced similar stuff before as a member of a busy online forum. Sometimes people would say horrible stuff, or delete you, and you are left with a weird mixture of emotions over someone you don't even know in the real world. On Facebook, this is even more prevalent.

PMDD does crazy things to your mind and perceptions. What 'normal' clear headed 'you' would shrug off, the PMDD'ing 'you', feels, like a stab in the heart. Someone deletes your friendship, deletes a comment, argues or even worse.. blocks you... it can cause a premenstrual mind to implode with all manner of negative feeling and thoughts.... then the paranoia and awkwardness sets in... do I ask why? Should I contact them? They must hate me.. I'm so horrible... etc

Facebook does provide a shoutbox to the world, and this is mostly, a good thing. Unfortunately though, during PMDD rages, outbursts or breakdowns, it can be a volatile place to be. Status messages, so commonly cause a whole string of issues. In the dysphoric PMDD state, you may post something really out of order, you may even know it's out of order, but, something pushes you to do it anyway.. YOU DONT CARE... it's gotta be said... I want everyone to know... whatever...
We then have to deal with comments back. In a PMDD rage, sometimes kind comments will enrage you further (depending on who they come from), negative comments will make you feel like crap, and some people (like other PMDD or depression sufferers you have in your friends list) might even encourage you to feel worse by joining in with your misery... None of which are beneficial to you calming down and riding the wave till the feeling subsides, in fact, all it does is aggravate the situations.

Before Facebook, addressing the world like this would not have even been possible!

You will cause yourself more pain and stress if you use Facebook statuses to share your woe's. How many people in your friends list really care? How many do you know in real life? How many do you actually really like and want to always keep in your life?

When I feel I am about to write something that is unnecessary, I will sit for a moment and consider what it says.. is it directed at someone? If it is, that's not fair... If it's something really negative.. do people really need to see it? All you are doing is perpetuating the feeling, or even worse, lighting a firework that might blow at any point, and probably up in your face, leaving you feeling really stupid, hurt, and guilty.

You are better off writing it all out and posting it to a support group, or direct to one of your more trusted friends. Striking up a conversation with someone, asking for help or sharing is far more productive then moaning to a crowd... of which only a few are even listening..

If you desperately want to post how bad you are feeling to the world, then have a little image search first.. find a picture that describes how you feel, a photograph, a drawing.. maybe you might find a quote that sums it up, or words from a poem. Share in it a different form. Help it evolve from raw, angry destructive emotion into something more beautiful and creative. Post a video of a song that describes the feeling...

Facebook is a great thing.. but you HAVE to look after yourselves. If Facebook becomes a source of more angst and problems, then it's time to get a reality check. If you can't use it without freaking out, getting upset, destroying relationships and friendships then take a break. 

If it causes you to spiral into negative thinking patterns about how unpopular you are, how much everyone hates you, how useless you are etc, then get the hell off the net and go take a walk, have a bath and bring your focus back to your real life, your real friends and family and well.. REALITY!!

We never had Facebook before... we never had to see what the girl who sat next to us in maths wore on her wedding day, we've never had hundreds of peoples lives there, in front of us, for us to compare to, scrutinise, and be jealous of. The fact that we let Facebook become such a source of emotion is worrying, and if you suffer with mental health problems, it can bring up a minefield of negative emotions. We have to be in control. No-one can monitor our use but us. No-one can turn off the computer for you and make you do something else instead. You have to take responsibility. If you are having a really bad time, and Facebook starts upsetting you... then recognise that, recognise that NOW is not a good time to be logged in. Take a break for a bit.. visit some other websites... move away from social interaction when you know there's a storm brewing.

I'm sure, most women with PMDD will know the feeling of hitting a friend with a statement that you know is gonna cause trouble. You have to remember that our bolts out of the blue, of our truth at that moment is usually a shock to others and they will obviously react accordingly (unless they REALLY know you). We are then left with a mess to clear up, or a ruined friendship and feelings of being a horrible human being.... The easiest way to avoid this, is to avoid Facebook at this time, at least, avoid posting negative status messages and learn some restraint and control when you want to share a negative state of feeling. Be creative!

Here's a little thought for you...

What if the plug to the internet was pulled tomorrow? What if you woke up and the net wasn't there? What if there was NO FACEBOOK?!!

Who would you share with? Who would you go to to talk with? What would you do with yourself?

It's good to spend time in real life! Facebook is a virtual reality... It has it's benefits, and can be a source of fun and entertainment, but it isnt REAL. It's a cyberworld of people, most of whom you haven't met, and full of unreal situations and stressors.

Look after yourself, don't let the PMDD ruin things just because the platform exists to do so. Switch off the laptop and go somewhere nice... visit someone local, bake, walk... create, spend your time differently when you feel crap... you can always take photo's of your journeys and creations and upload them when you feel better! I mean.. if it really did happen, if for what ever reason we lost our internet world tomorrow, what would you have? Who would you have?

It's good to keep a foot in the 'real world'. Pretend the internet doesn't exist for a day!


kristykick said...

I think I love you!!! You have said everything I am thinking! Namaste!

Cat said...


Thank-you Kristykick!

Doris said...

Wow, you really made such a great point! TY for posting this & reminding me that there IS life after FB. You have a wonderful writing skill. Keep up the great work!

Cat said...


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