I was hoping to write something a bit more positive for my blog this week, I’m not there yet but I’ve made some decisions I’m feeling optimistic about.
Long story short I’ve been experiencing a lot of anxiety about a certain group of friends for awhile now. Abandonment, lack of support, toxic masculinity and just generally feeling devalued has left me exhausted and stressed.
I was venting to my psych about all of this and finally said “continuing to try is making me feel miserable, I’m not sure why I can’t let it go.” We talked about this for awhile and went through my various hypotheses: I’m too weak, it’s all in my head, I can’t accept that they’d be happier without me, I’m stuck in the past.
We talked in circles while I cried, but all it kept coming back to is that the way things are is incredibly painful for me and I need to start looking after myself better. She suggested I cut them out entirely, but if I’m not capable of that than I should start start distancing myself.
For those who are more mentally healthy it seems like a super obvious solution to just not talk to these people. I’ve been thinking a lot since about how do I, a person with BPD who experiences extreme attachment issues, actually take the first steps towards walking away from people who I love. I’m terribly indecisive and have extreme mood swings, meaning I’ll be fully committed one minute and cave the next.
I still don’t think I’m capable of a clean cut and we have too many mutual friends which only adds to the mess. Social media is a huge birthplace of anxiety these days and is a natural place to start. Still, blocking them seems far too dramatic and sends a pretty strong message, if they actually notice I’ve blocked them (LOL!) that invites a whole lot of questions that I’m not sure I want to get into right now.
I’ve also tried deleting my Facebook in the past but that only really succeeds in stressing out my family, plus Facebook also keeps your account in a digital holding cell for 2 weeks. If you crack in that time it’s back like nothing happened.
I’ve started to formulate a strategy that should at least make it so that I can detox from the situation without rocking too many boats, I figured I’d share it in case others find some use for it.
- Unfollow everyone on Facebook who causes you anxiety
This accounts for about 90% of my Facebook friends as I’ll also be unfollowing that girl I went to high-school with who called me fat that one time and people who are close to my main sources of anxiety. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re in the clear until oh look! That acquaintance you’ll say hello to at parties has changed their profile picture to a group shot that includes your former best friend who squashed your heart into a million pieces. While you’re in there you may as well get rid of anyone who uses incorrect grammar or shares right wing news articles with no context.
- Remove all social media apps from your phone
I use this as a temporary starting measure and it breaks my heart to deprive myself of animal related Snapchats. But giving up footage of cats getting stuck in strange places is a small price to pay for not having to see everyone have fun without me.
I’ll set myself a time limit here, Snapchat doesn’t feel like it needs as much of a heavy penalty as Messenger (AKA: the devil).
- Get a much trusted individual (partner, sister, etc.) to reset your Facebook password
This is a tough one and difficult if you don’t have anyone who you trust that much. Luckily, I live with my partner who has been a source of total support whilst my mental health surely but slowly decays. Generally, when I’m distancing myself from social media he logs on to my account once a day to check if I have messages and gives me access to reply. It can be pretty upsetting to really see how little interaction I have with people if I’m not the one to initiate contact but I feel the distance is necessary.
- Remove numbers, message history and call logs from your phone.
Deleting the numbers of your major sources of anxiety is a no brainer. The important thing is to also get rid of any historical data. If I can scroll through a call log or message history that’s only one extra step I need to take before I dive straight into some self-destructive behaviour. I don’t trust myself not to send messages or call people in a desperate bid to fix things.
When to ease back in?
I’m not sure if actually scrolling through the Facebook news feed has ever been great for my mental health, but I’ve definitely cracked on ‘no Facebook’ decisions before. This is why the preemptive mass unfollowing is always a good move. When I do eventually go back I won’t be bombarded with photographs of people who stress me out and didn’t even realise I’d fallen off the face of the earth. This aside, I have urged my partner to not return my account to me for at least a month. I’ve only been at it for two days now I’ve already noticed a subtle decrease in anxiety.
Those of us with BPD can react particularly negatively to our experiences on social media. I really hope that by sharing my process here I can help others like me develop strategies for stepping away from this source of anxiety.