For some reason, Friday nights are a particularly difficult time for me. It’s not because I have FOMO about parties or anything like that – even before my illness, I wasn’t much of a party animal anyway. It’s more to do with the fact that social media is like a desolate wasteland during the late hours of Fridays. As someone who relies heavily on social media as a way to communicate, this can be torture. Where ‘healthy, normal’ people would simply be occupied on a Friday night or at least have someone to talk to – or, at the very least, be capable of picking up a phone and initiating the contact – I’m not. None of these things come easily to me. This – lack of socialising – is part one of the problem.
Part two is to do with self-expression. Like anyone else trying to build a brand on social media, I have to make sure my feed is interesting, appealing and not ‘too much’ – but not too little, either, because then I feel out of touch with the world. Can you imagine the pressure when you have schizophrenia and need to live up to these ‘expectations’ knowing that, if you don’t, you risk alienating your followers or tarnishing the online presence you’ve worked so hard to establish? Of course, I could just quit social media entirely and leave it all behind – remove that particular stress – but, then, how else would I feel like I’m reaching out into the world and staying connected? I already sit at my computer all day – I might as well do it wisely!
It’s like having a psychiatrist appointment two weeks from now when you need to talk RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Schizophrenia doesn’t like to wait. It requires immediate attention, whether it’s at a ‘convenient’ 2 pm on a Tuesday or in the middle of a Saturday night! But, inevitably, on the day of your psychiatrist appointment, you’ll be fine and coping well with life – and it will be at the most inopportune time, three days later, that you’ll suddenly feel like everything is too much and need to talk things through, but by then the opportunity has passed and you’ll just have to wait until you can see your psychiatrist again, however quickly their busy schedule will allow it. (Psychiatrists are human, too – they can’t just drop everything and see you in an instant when they have other patients, responsibilities, families etc.) Up, down, rinse, repeat!
Self-expression is vital for anyone, but with schizophrenia, it can be all-consuming. We don’t have much going on in our lives (thanks to our low threshold for stress) and part of the illness is a tendency to fixate on things (due to our impaired ‘executive function’) – so, the gap that would normally be filled with regular everyday activities is very much empty, and we have little means to direct our energy elsewhere. Plus, again, verbal communication is so difficult that it’s often avoided – and, then, what does one do to share one’s thoughts? When you can’t express yourself the ‘normal’ way, you have to find alternative pathways – but, even with the blog I put so much thought and energy into, I’m not guaranteed that people will read it. ((😣)) – So, naturally, I appreciate when people do – thank you!
All I know is – the more people I reach – the more I feel like I’m being heard. Like I’m ‘doing it right’, and will, one day, get where I want to be. This does not mean I’m ‘unhappy’ with where I am right now – not at all. I appreciate every step of the way, every moment in life I can. ‘Wanting more’ doesn’t mean ‘greedy’ or ‘ruthless’, either. For me, ‘wanting more’ is just me expressing my drive and ambition, two integral parts of my personality. Without my drive, without my ambition, I wouldn’t have had my first book published – nor have come this far in my recovery. And, to be honest, it’s more than just ‘wanting more’ – it’s KNOWING what I’m capable of, and having an innate urge to MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Communication is difficult, though, even for the best of us – and, again, there is no guarantee my points will be interpreted exactly the way I intend them to.
So, I’m not saying everyone should log onto Twitter in the middle of their dinner party with friends, to see what Georgia has posted during her uneventful Friday evening (unless, of course, that’s something you suddenly feel a strong inclination to do – in which case, feel free 😉). I’m just trying to highlight one of the many problems of this foul disease, in the hope that someone reads it and understands.
Thank you for reading.
P.S. This post is not meant as a ‘pity party’, and please don’t now feel obliged to write to me on Friday evenings 😀 My point is that my need for communication often falls outside ‘office hours’, if you see what I mean – and my capacity for communication is very limited, but this doesn’t mean I don’t still need it. Unfortunately, timing is key, but difficult to get right. I hope I explained this OK.