Online Social Networking Harms Health

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From The BBC:

People’s health could be harmed by social networking sites because they reduce levels of face-to-face contact, an expert claims.

…He also says that evidence suggests that a lack of face-to-face networking could alter the way genes work, upset immune responses, hormone levels, the function of arteries, and influence mental performance.

This, he claims, could increase the risk of health problems as serious as cancer, strokes, heart disease, and dementia.

Wonderful. Websites are the only place where I get any kind of “social interaction” with people at all. Since I got back to university on Monday, I’ve said hello to two of my flatmates and asked how they are… and that’s it. Those are the only words I’ve spoken to people this week. If I was planning on being alive long enough for it to affect me, I’d be pretty worried about my physical health if this article has any truth behind it.

I’m not sure how relevant it is for the rest of the population, certainly people who I know of who use things like Facebook don’t seem to have any trouble socialising face-to-face with people. It hasn’t replaced them going out or anything.

I often worry about the mental effects of such long term isolation that I have partly enforced on myself. I can’t really find any relevant information on the internet, but I’m sure it’s unhealthy to be detached from society for so long. I don’t think I will ever feel a part of it even if I lived to be 100. I’ve never felt accepted as part of a group or even considered an “equal” to people who I’m around since I was a child. I’m working on another post about school and how my SA developed at the moment but can’t seem to concentrate very well.

High Places

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Every time I walk to classes I see that high apartment block calling me over. I want to climb to the 10th floor balcony and drop knowing I’ll have at least a few seconds of release.

I don’t know what to do. It seems like I should talk to someone, but who and what should I say? I don’t know if I want to be talked out of it.

2009

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Another year, I’m surprised that I made it this far. This time last year I was just beginning the journey down the NHS mental health system and it seems to have taken a lot of effort to actually get somewhere, despite the fact that my problems have been enough to personally concern several of the staff I’ve been in contact with. 

I keep looking at the amitriptyline, can I swallow that many pills? The prospect of being 24 and still in this situation is not a pleasant one and it’s rapidly approaching. People seem to act like if you want to kill yourself, you must have something deeply wrong with your brain, or more frequently, that you are just looking for attention. Trust me, I’ve spent more hours of my life avoiding attention than just about anything else. I don’t understand why living is so great, if I had the choice to have not been born, I’d take it in an instant. Nothing happens to make the pain and sadness worth suffering through.

Is living 80-something years of unsatisfying drudgery so laudable? I can’t remember a time in my adult (or adolescent) life that I’ve been happy and I see no reason that will change. The more I discover about life and how harsh and unforgiving it is, the more I want to escape its unrelenting grip. I’ve only ever been happy when I’ve been sheltered from reality. Not knowing what people are like in the real world. I can’t survive outside my protective bubble, much less experience happiness.

It’s generally accepted that it’s harder to make friends as you get older, and I’m almost 14 years without having made one now. Things aren’t going to get any easier. I’m too far behind to ever be normal, too socially retarded and emotionally undeveloped. 

People try to tell me it’s not too late and things can change. I don’t know whether it’s petty of me, but the idea that sometime in the future, maybe 20 years from now, I might be able to make a solitary friend is not really a comfort. I don’t want to be a middle aged loser still living at home and catching the bus. The kind of person people avoid sitting next to and certainly would never want to converse with.

I hope the new year brings happiness for whoever reads this, I’m doubtful that it will for me.

Getting “help”

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I’ve all but given up on making this blog useful, apologies if you came here expecting something helpful.

I had another psychiatrist appointment last week. I faced the dilemma that many people with mental illness have to deal with; whether to say the right things, jump through their metaphorical hoops and and take the easy way out, or whether to face up to the hard task of telling it how it is and facing the consequences of that. Last time I took the first approach, she seemed quite pleased with the progress I was making. In the days leading up to my latest appointment though, I’ve been feeling extremely hopeless and suicidal again. It often seems to disappear as soon as I get the chance to talk to someone about it and I feel like I’m being overly dramatic by bringing it up but this time I was determined to speak the truth about it.

I haven’t been feeling the desperation that I did before, I don’t feel the need to go out there this minute and do it, it’s more of a realisation what my life is going to be like. The horrible truth hangs over me every day, reinforced more and more with every failed social interaction, every rejection, every person staring and laughing. I feel crushing jealousy as I see people with friends, even glancing at groups studying together brings out a great sadness in me. I am totally alone here, and everywhere except in my home. I can no longer see how I’m going to get past the fact that I am hopelessly socially retarded, my appearance scares people and I am incredibly boring. There’s too much to overcome before anyone would even be remotely interested in knowing me, never mind the fact that I’ve already established myself as the weirdo loner here. It could be worse, at least I know a couple of people’s names, but I never dare interrupt their groups to talk to them, even if I could think of something to say.

I managed to tell the psychiatrist that I have been having the thoughts again and then of course I had to talk to the terrifying consultant. He’s incredibly intense, always staring and picks apart everything you say. I already over analyse the way I say every single thing to make sure it’s no misinterpreted but he sends me into overdrive. It can take me 30 seconds to answer a simple question, I get scared he’s going to get angry at what I say, especially after he smashed his fist on the table after I deigned to ask about anti-anxiety medication. The end result of it all was that he didn’t seem to think I was serious about it and just upped my venlafaxine to 225mg and said I’d benefit from one to one psychotherapy. I was referred a couple of months ago but still haven’t heard anything.

I don’t know what to do with myself now. I wish it was possible to transfer a confident person into my situation (of course no normal person would be in this position in the first place) and see what they’d do. I simply have no idea. I could carry on going to lectures, sitting alone and speaking to no-one for practically the entire week. I’m scared of the people my flatmates bring around here, I’ve missed several meals because I’ve been too afraid to leave my room and go into the loud, social atmosphere of the kitchen.

I’m so screwed up, laughter scares me now. If I here a group of people (especially men) laughing it just triggers a fear response inside me. I suppose it’s some kind of Pavlovian response after all the years of mocking and torment but I wish I didn’t feel like it. I don’t have a clue how I’m ever going to be normal*.

* Now I know the usual response to this is that “nobody is normal” or normal people aren’t interesting, but that’s not what I mean. I think most people would agree it is pretty normal to have at least one friend. It’s reasonably normal to be capable of going out somewhere without being crippled by fear of being laughed at and humiliated. I’d love to have someone to talk to, who I didn’t feel like I had to put on a show just to seem like less of a freak to.

I was asked some difficult questions by the consultant; “Have you ever had any close friends?” Not since I was a young child. He asked about when I was about 15; “Lads have mates who they go out and do ‘lad’ things with” he said. Not me. I had people I hung around with in school because I was too scared to leave them (they bullied me as much or worse than the other people) but I never had the slightest desire to spend any more time than absolutely necessary with them. I never saw them outside of school. I’ve been a loner for the vast majority of my life, but that isn’t how I want to be. I’d say the problem is probably made worse by two enormous problems. First, I am not the kind of person people like. I’m no fun to be around, I’m far too quiet and I don’t like drunkenness and parties, I look hideous, I’m probably too arrogant and élitist in my own introverted way. Second, I lack the basic skills that seem to come naturally to other people, probably through trial and error when they were younger and social faux-pas weren’t as heavily punished. I find it incredibly hard to explain just how little I know about how to interact with people, a lot of people think they are “shy” or whatever, but I’ve not come across many as socially maladjusted as me. I know nothing about what people do, I know they don’t spend every waking hour reading or on the computer like me but all I have for reference is what I see on TV and in movies (which I do realise aren’t realistic, by the way). I feel completely out of place as a human adult.

Feeling Better

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I’ve started my lectures properly now which is good because it means less time sitting around with nothing to do. I didn’t really put that much thought into the course itself compared to the social side of things when I was considering whether I could cope at university. Not to brag, but I’ve always been good at computing, it’s the only thing I’ve wanted to do as a career for as long as I can remember. I’ve spent countless hours reading about and messing about with computers and software. Since I’ve been unemployed for so long, I kind of lost my passion for it but now I am back in an environment where I can learn and make use of my skills again it has re-ignited my interest. I really can’t wait to get into the coursework and learn more.

I’m not sure whether it’s being in a new environment or the new medication, but I’m feeling a lot better than I was before I left for uni. I just hope it can continue.

Leaving Home Part 2

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Well I’m sorry it has taken so long to get around to writing this up, as you can imagine I have been extremely busy for the past week and I’m quite drained, both physically and especially mentally. First of all there was the extremely difficult process of moving all my stuff out and the anticipation of what my new home and room mates would be like. Will they like me? What if they make fun of me? Will I be able to manage without my mum?

Saying goodbye was very hard, my mum ended up crying like I expected. I didn’t want her to hang around too long because I know she was going to be upset. Some people’s parents seemed to stay for almost the entire day. After I’d unpacked my stuff, I decided to venture out into the kitchen/common area to meet my other room mates (I’d said hello to a couple of them while unloading the car). It took me a while to psych myself up enough to go in there but I made it. There were loads of people in there, more than the amount who would be in our apartment so I was a bit confused at first since I wasn’t sure who was staying and who wasn’t. I managed to introduce myself and talk a little bit to some of them. I later found out that most people already had friends here, that they had either worked with, known from college or were already friends with. This made me feel a bit sad because I had tried to console myself with the fact that we’d all be in the same boat, i.e. everyone would be on their own and not already have a social group, but this wasn’t the case. Already I was a loner and everyone had got a group of friends.

We all went out together on the first night. It was the first time I’d ever done anything like this, we went to a couple of pubs first which I didn’t mind too much and I managed to chat to them for a little while. Later on when we went to the club though, I just couldn’t stand it. There were too many drunk people and it was so packed, I felt trapped. I stayed for about an hour but when they all went to dance, I couldn’t handle it any more and I had to leave early. I felt so bad for running out on them like that but there was no way I could handle it any more and I didn’t fancy standing about on my own at the side all night long. I ended up leaving them a note explaining that I get panicked in situations like that and why I can’t drink etc. Maybe it was a bad idea, but I didn’t know what else to do.

The next day, no-one was mean to me about it so I guess they understood or at least didn’t hold it against me. They asked me to come to dinner with them which I did and had a good time, felt much better after that. I didn’t go to town with them afterwards though, I think they realise that I am not into clubs and stuff now.

All in all, I think I have been very lucky to be put with this group, they all seem to be nice and even though they are all very confident and outgoing, I have managed to talk to them a little bit and I think we get on alright. I find it much easier to speak to people individually rather than in a group, it’s so intimidating being with a bunch of such loud people.

I think that overall I am coping ok so far. The course starts properly on Monday which I’m looking forward too, the introductory lectures I’ve had so far have been interesting and the course sounds really good. The lecturers are very enthusiastic and involved which is a refreshing change from college where they didn’t bother to turn up a lot of the time.

I wanted to let people know how I’m getting on so far. I’m actually at home for the weekend at the moment so I am a bit more relaxed and should hopefully be able to write a bit more later on. Thanks everyone for all the encouragement and support 🙂