IntrepidWoman's Journey

Posts Tagged ‘addiction

In my experience, Facebook is an addiction. I deactivated my FB page 3 days ago and it has been an eye-opener. For the rest of day one, I continually stopped to check FB and experienced frustration that it was gone. For the next two evenings, I did not know what to do with myself so ended up knitting, reading a news site briefly, and going to bed earlier that most nights previously.

On day 2, I made a list of things that needed done and accomplished every single one that day! Before, I would make a list and take at least a week to accomplish it as hours swept away while I was in front of my IPad. Evenings often turned into early mornings; sometimes I would not go to bed before 2 AM and then sleep in the next day. The last 2 nights I have been tired from being active, and have gone to bed instead of sitting in front of the computer. It makes early mornings so much easier and days so much more productive!

I cannot get back the many hours that I have spent on Facebook since I retired at the end of August in 2014, but I can move forward into creative, exciting and gratifying accomplishments from this point onward.

In the last 3 days I have been knitting, volunteered to accompany my grandson’s class to the local museum to learn about immigration in early Lethbridge and southern Alberta, helped the class on another day to learn to knit so they can take part in a yarn bombing for a local festival coming up near the end of the month, shredded a lot of paperwork and cleaned out some bins from my move that were stacked in the closet for a rainy day, AND completed a list of ‘things to do’ that had been hanging around for several days.

I still want to check Facebook, when I get up, when I am eating a meal, and anytime I am not doing something. I miss the people, I think. Maybe not. A lot of them were like me, posting several times a day to show photos, put up quotes and describe daily activities. These are people I do not spend real time with. They are only in my life through FB. The few who are my ‘real’ friends will still be in contact by phone and we will still get together in person to share tidbits about our lives.

The online draw may be the convenience of being part of a community, even while wearing your pjs, and not having to make the effort to go out into the real world. Like most addictions, it begins slowly, and before you realize it, you need your ‘fix’ more often until it dominates your life. Sounds extreme, but think about it.

I made the pledge to deactivate for 30 days. I am only 3 days into it. I know I will make the 30 days, but I wonder if I will want to go back to being active on FB on December 2nd. I kind of hope not.

I have 27 days left to create a real life! My right-brain, creative side is hollaring, “You go girl!” My left-brain, analytical side is moaning, “Life is scary. FB is easier.”

The challenge has begun!

Change in life is constant. Our journey has forks in the road; we constantly have people enter and leave our lives as we trudge along through time. We move, we change jobs, (and sometime partners) and do our best to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Each of our paths is unique, but is filled with valleys and mountain tops. Life is often hard; we experience pain, loneliness and sorrow. Life is also glorious, filled with joy, love, and hope. If it was not for the valleys, could we really appreciate the mountain tops?

For me, retirement has been one of the biggest changes in my life. I moved through the adult years as a single parent struggling to juggle family and finances and finally stepped off the hamster wheel 21 days after my 66th birthday. My first year after was spent just recovering from life’s hectic pace. I was so exhausted!

Now in my second year, I am on a journey to cleanse my body and become the best I can be. Chronic illnesses have plagued me for many years. After a near-death experience in February 2013, and the recent realization that my life expectancy is not way into the future, I have taken control of my physical self.

First thing was to research to find out why there is so much chronic disease, obesity, and early deaths due to so many cancers and the effects of high blood pressure and diabetes. It all comes back to what we eat and the amount of exercise we get. Desk job + processed foods in the stores and quick-and-dirty drive-thru meals all add up to an unhealthy life style. Research has proven it. There is lots of data out there. Nothing new here, but changing it however, is not easy. We live on treadmills. Ours lives are super busy. We are raising our kids to be super busy as well and in between work and chauffering kids to lessons, we are thankful for the chicken nuggets and drive-thru coffee.

It is life. It is how it is. It has evolved over time to this. I have the privilege now, in the winter of my life, to make big changes and it is going well. My taste buds have changed after a few months of eating fresh foods, juicing vegetables and fruit daily, riding an exercise bike and taking yoga and NIA. I rarely eat bread products and have sworn off processed meats and most processed foods. Research has helped me locate locally grown and raised food where I live. Life is good. My energy is through the roof. Physically, I feel better every day.

But… Isn’t there always a but? My poor brain continues to suffer from information overload. Easy access to social media fills my head daily with the horrors of murders and natural disasters. The provincial and federal elections this year were full of hateful statements and images. I have witnessed how abuse and bullying are alive and growing on the internet.

So, what to do about it? I get up, have my hot lemon water and turn on my computer to Facebook, then read emails, then news sites. I end the day the same way. I check in during the day when I am at home. (At least when I worked, I could only do it in the morning and at night.) Some of what I see is good. I like pictures of ex-students and their families and seeing how their lives are unfolding. I enjoy posts from long-time friends and knowing what is going on at Jack’s school and in my neighborhood. Facebook has become the window to my retired life, but I have been sitting in front of it way too much, reading about other people’s lives instead of living my own.

The elements of negativity in social media are pulling me down, mentally and spiritally. As I gain energy and improve my physical self, my mental self is deteriorating.

My addiction to social media is keeping me from real-life experiences. It is time to do something about that. Tucked into my fleece sheets last night, trying to clear my head and go to sleep, I decided to go off Facebook for a month. If I can learn to love vegetables over chocolate, surely I can learn to love real people interactions over FB interactions. There is much more to me than being a Facebook troll!

I am going to deactivate my account today. For 30 days. I would like to never go back, but time will tell. Just as I crave a little chocolate once in a while and hope to learn to eat it in moderation some day, my desire is to limit FB to maybe once a week for only for a few minutes. Maybe I could eat a piece of chocolate when I check Facebook? I would have to turn it off when the chocolate is gone. Lofty goal! Better to say I could drink a freshly-made vegetable juice while I check FB for a few minutes once a week.

I will be back on December 2nd to check in. Wish me luck. I will have 30 days to make art, interact with real people and connect more strongly to my Higher Power. I will still have email, but I think Messenger will be gone with FB.

Now I am going to make my vegetable juice, and while I sip it, read Facebook, then press ‘Deactivate’. The rest of the day will be an exciting, blank canvas!

It is all about finding balance in one’s life, as well as living it to be our very best! Every single day.

Too much of a good thing for me has included: chocolate, art supplies, buying wool and knitting scarves, and exercise programs. I thought that meant I was OCD, but it does not fit the criteria. I do not wash my hands a lot, just sometimes after a lot of chocolate.

I have eaten enough chocolate bars in my lifetime to build a fort, knit enough scarves to warm over 40 necks, filled an old trunk with enough art supplies to last 5 years and spent the last few months taking chair yoga, NIA and riding an exercise bike as if my life depended on it.

My life does depend on it so I have been burning down the fort, found a place to sell my scarves for cheap, gave a bag of wool to Jack’s class for a project, began reading ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), to get over the fear of creating, and continued going to yoga, NIA and riding my exercise bike except when having a fibromyalgia flare up.

I have also been researching chronic illnesses and their connection to how and what we eat. Documentaries that have become my friends include: “Fat, Sick and Almost Dead”, “Food Inc.”, “Vegucated”, “Hungry for Change”, “Forks Over Knives”, and “Food Matters”.

Watching how food is altered, processed and poisoned and how animals are raised and slaughtered has not turned me into a vegetarian, although it should have, but it has made me change my ways.

I am astounded by the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, many cancers and heart diseases that can be directly connected to what we eat. The proof is out there through studies of eating habits around the world.

Because my first year of retirement was dedicated to recovering from work exhaustion, getting up when my eyes opened, reading every book I could get my hands on physically and digitally, and spending more time with family and friends, it went by quickly. My second year began with goal setting, facing my sorry, sick self and pulling up my big girl panties.

Actually, a diagnosis of another chronic disease in July was the jolt I needed. My one big goal now is to dance at my grandchildren’s weddings. To that end, I have met with a nurse every few weeks at the medical clinic to discuss nutrition, found and watched all those documentaries, joined exercise programs at the seniors’ centre and stopped eating mindlessly to fix what ails me. The eating and non-exercise were causing what ails me.

After a few months of this total self-care, I have had my blood pressure medication cut in half, lowered my blood sugar so that I am no longer considered to be pre-diabetic, lost nearly 30 pounds and 4.75 inches off my waist. I still have a long way to go but I am on the road.

I am putting this out there to be accountable. That is scary but necessary. It has not been an easy process. I have stumbled and emotionally beat myself up, but have kept my eyes on the dancing ahead.

Joe Cross has taught me about juicing and micro nutrients, and learning about nutrition has taught me to stay away from bread and processed foods as much as possible. I gave up caffeine.

I am not on a diet. I do not deprive myself. My tastebuds have changed because of juicing dark green vegetables and fruit and from having a local vegetable share this summer with Noble Gardens. I just signed up for a winter share because they grow without chemical pesticides and I am supporting a family business.

I also gave away my Keurig so I would have more room on the counter for my juicing machine and cutting board. My energy level has quadrupled. I have gone from a walking zombie with chronic fatigue and multiple aches and pains to looking for things to do like clean out closets and wash windows.

There. It is out there. I am accountable to you now. That should make me lose a pound or two, just by sweating at the thought!

If I have more than one alcoholic drink, I am asleep in the corner. Many years ago, I was married to an alcoholic who could party all night, won the at-party award for funniest stand-up comedian when drinking and who asked what was wrong with me because I did not have the same stamina. He was funny, but he was drunk and often.

I do have an addictive personality however, and it has come to the surface in many forms other than alcohol. The latest is Facebook. This world of connecting with people you’d lost track of and then following their posts of what they ate for breakfast and who they are ticked off at today had become my world.

It started innocently enough. I signed up, found people from my past and delighted in catching up with their lives.  Then I was spending long evenings just hanging on-line, commenting here and there and even checking for updates as soon as I got up in the morning. After each day in the work world, I would unlock that front door at home and head straight for the computer. Between cooking, cleaning, watching a tv show, I would gravitate back to the computer, checking my email, then FB.

It all seemed innocent enough because it was a gradual slide into this obsession. One day I realized how ridiculous it was. Ninety of those ninety-eight people are not part of my real life. I am not going to make the effort to visit them, nor will they likely ever visit me. I really don’t give a rat’s tail that “R” had a busy day and wishes it was the weekend, or that another “R” is sitting in a cafe having a ‘Mucho Grando Poopo, extra-large’, or that “M”‘s daughter is beyond awesome in the school operetta.

So, what have I been doing on there? Standing on my own soapbox, in front of a sea of faceless computer screens, I have been sharing MY anecdotes about life and family. Do those ninety-eight people care that my grandkids are beyond cute and smart or that I have a new drama of the week in my life? A few people, my A list, take time to comment, as I do on their updates.

But Facebook should be like that one drink, occasional and just a brief encounter. As an addiction for me, it had gone too far.

Since the beginning of my FB journey, I have suffered the massive sharing of materialistic opulence at Christmas, the constant wishing it was Friday, the complaints against lazy husbands, bad hockey and more snow. I witnessed a one-day event that continued on FB for well over a year and an emotionally charged group who began in-fighting over a local news event.

I saw people at their worst and people at their best. I presented myself at my worst and maybe at my best (debatable), but I am finally finished. I have de-activated my account.

The first few days were difficult. I wanted to constantly ‘check’ what was happening on FB. I held back, saying I would stay off for a week, and what a week it was! I got so many other things accomplished! I read an awesome book, did household purging and thought about other things besides FB and its ‘peeps’.

I finally did check in on day 7. I had missed a few hundred posts. My mouse scurried through them. Same old, same old. I was let down and elated at the same time. Then I deactivated my account again and will attempt a 2 week hiatus this time. My goal – to either close my page for good or only drop in once a month.

In all fairness, I do miss the ‘friends’ who wrote with wit and gave me a daily laugh. I miss “P” and “S” whose anecdotal stories about their children were delightful, and “L” who is a born writer and expecting her first child with so much joy and gratitude after a long struggle to get pregnant. I miss “S” who tells stories of his escapades teaching in Asia.

In two weeks, I will go back to FB and find out what these few are up to, but I will not go back full-time. I have things to do and important decisions to make about my own life, and I want my free time to be exactly that, free, not attached to my FB page.

BTW – I found a FB addiction site on-line. People were expressing similar sentiments as mine, but I decided not to join. Everyone there had transferred their addiction from FB to this new site.


Historically Speaking

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