A little over a week ago, I made the decision to take a break from social media. Yes, I am now officially on hiatus from Facebook and Twitter. I may share my blog posts there but for now, I am sticking with my decision not to log on, check messages, etc. until further notice. Any comments on my blog posts will not be visible to me unless they are posted directly through WordPress.
A break from social media may sound like no big deal to some people but for me it has been huge. Since chronic pain moved in (uninvited) and decided to take up residence in my life, my contact with the outside world has diminished. I have never been a social creature, so that consequence of chronic pain isn’t all that devastating for me. However, when my life started to change, I found myself turning to social media for support, social interaction, education, and raising awareness for Endometriosis, chronic pain, and a few issues that go along with it. That part has been great and I have met some wonderful people along the way.
If it has been so great, then you might be asking yourself why would she take a break or choose to stop participating? Here is the answer. Social media, specifically Facebook, can be a cruel and depressing place for someone whose life is severely limited by chronic illness and maybe even more so for someone with infertility. There are only so many happy family vacation photos, pregnancy announcements, baby pictures, and back-to-school posts that you can endure before you start going insane. Those of you with chronic pain and/or infertility (especially infertility) will know EXACTLY what I mean. Other people probably won’t be reading this blog but if they are and know me well, they will understand how much it affects me. I want more than anything to be happy for everyone and share their joy in those moments but at the same time I feel like someone is ripping my heart out every time I am reminded of the things I so desperately want but will most likely never have (a normal pain free life and the chance to be a mommy).
I have been heavily involved with social media for years now, so I have gotten used to the aforementioned challenges to a certain extent and while they are part of the reason for my social media “vacation”, they are not the ONLY reason.
The final straw came with a slew of negativity, most of which happened over the course of one week. The most hurtful was a personal attack from a now former Facebook “friend” who posted some very insulting, hypocritical, and judgemental opinions about me, my struggles with chronic illness, how I deal with them, and even my treatment options. That topic is deserving of its own separate blog post so I will elaborate more on it later but it was at that point when I realized that even if you are trying to do something good for yourself and others, that there are cruel people out there who will try to break your spirit. I am not a naive idiot who didn’t already know that to a certain degree but I had yet to experience it on such a personal level. The very same day, I witnessed a fellow EndoSister experience even worse personal attacks while trying to raise funds for a surgery which she desperately needs. That too ignited a rage and sadness inside me which is unhealthy and something that I don’t need and honestly just can’t deal with right now. As if those things weren’t enough, shortly afterwards, the City in which I live and for which I work was going through the process of enacting a very controversial but much needed anti-discrimination ordinance which brought out a lot of ignorance and hate, which was impossible to avoid on both Facebook and Twitter (complete with protesters scattered throughout town and uninvited “robocalls” to our citizens). I try to stay out of political issues as much as possible because I feel they are a conflict of interest, given my career in local government. This was a topic that was very difficult for me to withhold my opinion on though because civil rights and anti-discrimination are things that I hold close to my heart and believe are so important and necessary, and although they shouldn’t be a problem in the 21st century, they clearly still are. I did post one status update on the topic and shortly afterwards I lost a few more Facebook “friends” which has become a common occurrence for me since I started raising awareness for Endometriosis and chronic pain, which I understand makes some people uncomfortable. I expected to lose a few “friends” over the civil rights issue but the others that I periodically lose for unknown reasons or because they are uncomfortable facing the reality of the pain that millions of people suffer with in silence, makes me very sad (especially when some of them are family members). I am trying to give people a voice and I am thankful for those who tough it out, through my sometimes painful posts, and remain strong enough to be my friends. I know that it may get old for those who don’t share the same struggles in life but please know that your support is appreciated. The final piece of the puzzle leading up to my hiatus came with the rescheduling of a commonly used pain medication, enacting stronger regulations, and making it more difficult to access for the millions of patients who suffer with often untreated or under-treated chronic pain. Naturally, this too hits close to home and the endless judgemental, ignorant, and cruel comments on the many Facebook posts surrounding the issue are something which also make me so angry and emotional but something over which I have no control and can do nothing about.
Living with chronic pain, infertility, and reproductive disorders such as Endometriosis and PCOS can leave you hormonally imbalanced and ultra-sensitive to things which others might consider insignificant. I am thankful that I recognized the effect that all of this was having on me when I did so that I could make a decision to pull-back, at least for a little while, before I let my emotions spiral even further out-of-control, because when that happens to someone with chronic illness there are physical consequences in addition to psychological and emotional ones and that can be detrimental to our health. I can’t afford anymore setbacks because I have to remain strong, as the sole source of income, insurance, and financial support for my little family.
For now, this social media hiatus is the right choice for me. I already feel a little better emotionally and have freed up enough time to update this blog after months of inactivity. I also have more time to focus on my husband, watch movies together, and do the few activities together which we are still able to enjoy. Have no fear Facebook friends and Twitter followers, for I will be back when the time is right. Even with all of the inevitable negativity on social media, the friendship and support communities which I have found there are something I cherish, make it all worthwhile, and are not something that I have any intention of abandoning forever.
See you soon! 🙂