I've been very impressed with my doctor recently. During the past few visits, after speaking about my throat issues, rather than just kicking me out and moving on to the next patient he has taken the time to inquire about my mental health.
Going from a very busy, high profile job, plus commuting up to four hours a day, to almost nothing is a big jump. To then stay that way for what will be four months is such a shift in mindset. Not to mention the frustration at being incapacitated in this way for so long.
He was pleased and surprised when I said I had been taking a philosophy course and I think this helped to demonstrate that I was largely okay.
I’ll admit it’s been a struggle at times and I have felt incredibly down, being unable to do something so natural as speak for so long is tough, but I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Of course, the transition back to work will be equally as hard, maybe even harder, so a focus on my mental as well as my physical health is of paramount importance.
My move away from social networks, combined with a desire to take positive action through meditation, learning and hand written notes, is a direct response to realising that my mental health was in danger were I to carry on the way I was.
With no metrics or stats to concern myself with, having also removed them from the blog, I am able to concentrate on creation and discussion without any added pressure.
Quality not quantity.
There have been numerous studies linking social media use to mental health issues but a new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England illustrates how damaging it can be to children. The report makes recommendations that schools should be more actively involved in preparing children for the emotional impact and demands of social as well as the traditional messages of online safety.
Social networks were intended to connect, inform and empower - they still can when used responsibly - but the ever greater imposition of algorithms makes this harder to achieve. That we should even have to consider the need to emotionally prepare our children shows just have far removed from the original vision we have become.
Comparing ourselves to our peers is nothing new - I struggled to find my place and identity as a teenager in the 80’s long before the internet - but the modern social infrastructure of the web exposes us to much wider spheres of influence and amplifies these struggles a thousand fold.
With the networks themselves apparently unwilling (or unable) to address certain issues we must be responsible for our own welfare and that of our children. For some that has meant leaving entirely, for others it is finding a way to manage their experience.
What we must do, however, is find our own path and our own reasons for choosing it. Blindly following the mob serves no purpose.
We are all still learning how to live in this environment, with this level of access and exposure. The pace of change has been faster than at any point in history.
Perhaps we need to evolve, as individuals and as a society, in order to cope or maybe we need to moderate our progress and slow the headlong rush we have been on.
But one thing is for certain: the current climate is unsustainable.