My Social Media Confession

Social Media Confession

 

I don’t consider myself to have a diagnosable issue with OCD.

I have a lot of rituals and routines that seem to provide me with some relief from anxiety, but they are largely invisible and don’t cause problems. Does it really matter that I turn on the playroom light every time I turn on our house alarm, or that I take the empty hangers out of my husband’s closet the moment he travels so that I don’t have a visual reminder that he’s gone for the week, or that I have to eat my frozen enchilada meal oriented in the right direction? Is it the end of the world that I have parking spots I prefer (the ones that are directly next to a sidewalk, for instance) or that I like to arrive at important doctor’s appointments at least ten minutes early? Our household philosophy is “It’s not a problem until itโ€™s a problem.” That may sound silly, but what it means is that we try to give ourselves leeway about our quirks. If they start to get out of hand, then we give it our undivided attention to try to get it back to manageable. It’s a little like when you know the house is gotten a bit messy, but you don’t obsess over it. Then you trip over a basketball and land on Legos and yell, “This is why we don’t let it get this bad around here! Time to clean up, now!” All of our family quirks are like that, when it is a problem we fix it, but we don’t consider it a problem until it really is one.

Well, my OCD tendencies are becoming a problem, in one very specific area โ€“ my phone.

I am going to confess something I’m a bit ashamed of. Every morning I have to check my social media. HAVE to. It has become something that causes me a lot of anxiety and distress if I

A. Don’t do it at all.

B. Do it out of order.

Or

C. Don’t complete my rounds.

I HAVE to check Facebook, then my e-mail, then Pinterest, then Timehop, then Instagram, then WordPress, then Buzzfeed. It takes a ridiculous amount of time. Most mornings I am up too early anyways, so my rounds don’t interfere with anyone or anything else. I’ve tried to slow down but I find myself extremely anxious at not completing this routine. It bothers me immensely. I feel very unsettled and cannot move on with the other things I need to do. There is no good reason for this compulsion, and the interference with daily life โ€“ this is when you get into diagnosable territory. This is when it becomes a real problem and not just a “quirk”.

This morning, though, was the worst. My oldest had to wake me up at seven because I needed to get up and make lunches and give my youngest a bath. I knew I was running late. I knew I had forgotten to plug in my phone, so it was on very low battery. I knew that my oldest had been sweetly responsible in waking me up, and that he had been up for an hour and wanted to chat. What I did, instead of making breakfast or actually talking with my son, was I stood next to the charger with my phone plugged in, checking my rounds and ignoring him. I nodded and didn’t make eye contact, and I said, “uh-huh” in response to every question, and I left him out. He barely seemed to notice how much I had just invalidated him, how I had just demonstrated how much more important my rituals and my phone were than anything he had to say. That was the saddest part of all, his acceptance that he should play second fiddle to my anxieties and to a stranger’s comments on Facebook, and that he still loved me and felt no resentment towards me over it. It’s not a problem until it’s a problem. It is a very big problem.

I don’t have a resolution to this problem yet. But it sure as hell has gotten my undivided attention now. I am going to fix this, because my son shouldn’t have to be happy with scraps of divided attention; he shouldnโ€™t have to share me with an iPhone.

Adrenaline Nights

Blood sugar

I am up again in the middle of the night. That makes, I don’t know, twenty or so nights in a row. It’s the hypoglycemia, low blood sugar waking me up for a midnight feeding and sometimes again at four AM. Like having a squalling newborn. The exhaustion in between feedings makes it almost impossible not to pass out immediately, and on those nights I get more sleep. Occasionally adrenaline has done some of the work to raise my blood sugar for me, but then it keeps me up like I had done moonlit espresso shots. Tonight is an adrenaline night. The first few adrenaline nights, when I think about it now, astound me. Each time I had thought I had heard one of my children yelling for me, a loud “MOM”, the kind that accompanies a kid who suddenly realizes he is going to throw up right that second. I would jump out of bed, run to the boy’s room and realize that both of them were one hundred percent sound asleep. It happened once after I knew I was waking up with lows, and I marveled at my brain’s ability to jolt me awake for my own good. Pretty clever, if you ask me, using auditory hallucinations to ensure I didn’t just slip into a coma.

Adrenaline nights wake you up with a jittery, nervous stomach that make anxiety unavoidable. The hours before you are able to sleep again double and redouble the anxiety, and now you suddenly have hours of insomniac time to fill. All by your lonesome. In a spooky, silent and dark house. With access to Google. The first few adrenaline nights were filled with research, scouring reputable medical sites and not so reputable message boards for the answer to the questions, “Why is this happening to me?” and “What can I do to fix this?” Once my bloodshot eyes burned out from the glare of the computer screen, I would refresh them with copious tears the result of other questions, “What if?” and “Why me?” This cycle sometimes lasts four or five hours, before the adrenaline that woke me really leaves me be.

Time can make it better, experience with the adrenaline nights makes it better. I don’t research anymore. I cycle through Facebook, then Pinterest, then Buzzfeed, then Instagram, then the miniature food jewelry pages on Etsy. After those run out it becomes time for an old DVR’d CBS Sunday Morning, My Grandmother’s Ravioli or Treehouse Masters. Absolutely no news, no doom and gloom, no medical jargon, no negativity. It helps.

What also helps is just knowing the moment has come when I am no longer the only one awake in the house. Several times I have been able to fall into a deep peaceful sleep the moment my oldest padded downstairs, said hi and then asked to play on the iPad. Or when my youngest has begun to realize that if he wakes up in the middle of the night I am more likely to be downstairs on the couch than I am in bed, and a few times has snuggled up with me and we’ve both been able to fall back asleep.

I don’t think tonight will work out, though. I have to fast for a blood test, one that might give me answers if only I can stick it out through the night without eating anything before eight in the morning. They asked for ten hours without food, when the longest I have managed in months is six. Adrenaline already woke me up at 12:30, and I have only had two hours of interrupted sleep so far this evening. We will see.