I think I need some space. It’s not you, It’s me.
When we first got together, I thought you were everything I wanted. We have 464 friends in common. You were amazing. You understood my narcissism and you propagated it. A constant companion, you were there for me at any time of the day or night, and you showed me fabulous pictures of your family. I felt like we had a real connection. (Except, of course, when my WiFi went out)
I wanted to be with you forever. I couldn’t wait to see you, to chat with you, to tell you about my day, my children’s day, my kitten’s day, my neighbor’s day. If I ever went to the gym, I’d be sure to tell you that too. You had so many likes, and you invited me to numerous events. You kept up with the goings on and relationship statuses of all of our friends. And there is something to be said about never forgetting my birthday—and telling everyone else when mine is so I don’t have to nudge them. And “Throwback Thursday?” How fun is that?
I saw your kindness through the pics you posted of that 13-year-old, one-eyed dogs that needed rescuing. And all those cute, ironical sayings and memes you have? So deep, so inspirational. And the way you help people boil down complex emotions into simple little emojis—brilliant! Who needs therapy?
Then there were the videos you shared with me. I especially enjoyed, “The Truth About Long Term Yurt Living” as part of the glamping trend—I am just so grateful to have increased my knowledge, through our relationship.
But something’s not working. I mean, I know all couples go through a phase where the newness has worn off—where you see each other pluck errant hairs and unclog toilets and pay bills—daily life is not sexy. But it’s more than that. Lately, I have felt like our relationship is not authentic, it feels so, so…two-dimensional. And I have wondered if you have some sort of personality disorder…you make comments like: “Sometimes, I feel like the world is against me (DOT, DOT, DOT)”—and I’m not asking why anymore.
Maybe it was election season that started to tear us apart? Or your need to keep me constantly informed of real and unreal facts, even when I didn’t want to know. Or you telling me about every protest, every phone call I was supposed to make to ensure a better world, when, really, I wanted to pull the covers over my head sometimes, and be left alone.
Then, of course, you have to announce every part of your day to me, ad nauseum? “I went to the doctor, I took a nap, I am going to look at flowers…” Who cares? Your cooking videos and healthy ideas–too perfect, too annoying. No one wants a recipe for a Quinoa Amaranth Burger on a Bulger Wheat Bun. I’m. So. Done. And, no, for the 50 millionth time, I Do Not Want To Play Candy Crush Saga.
You keep posting accomplishments of other people’s kids, which makes me feel like an inadequate mother. And posting pictures of our friends’ beach trips when we can’t afford to take one. Sometimes, I just feel too anti-social to engage in social media, and yet, you keep pulling me in. And you make it much too easy for people to just “unfriend me.”
Oh, and I thought everything could be ok when I told you about my struggle with depression, but then I had doubts. In the midst of an episode, I felt so alone, that I started to describe what depression felt like to you. I wrote: “Not the blues, not ‘a bit down’…nothing that bootstraps, a bit of exercise, or happy thoughts will cure.” I posted. “This shit is all-consuming. It feels like I am in a vat of chewing gum and trying to climb out, like I’m driving in a fog, like the world just suddenly became a horrible, horrible place. Like I’m wearing shit-covered glasses that I cannot remove…”
And then, after examining my friends list and imagining each person reading my post, I had that gut sinking, one-night-stand having, or sent-that-email-to-that-very-wrong-person having, type of regret. As a clinician, I worried that my clients would someday see it. Or people at work would think I could not do my job ever again.
Oh no, what had I done? I scanned through my friends list—staring at each picture. My kids’ teachers, my mom’s friends, mothers of kids at my kids’ preschool (would my kids ever get another playdate invitation?), work colleagues, old high school teachers and friends, and some peripheral acquaintances from other parts of my life…all on my friends list.
And I worried that I had become that poster. The poster with the ever-so-sad sympathy-inducing statements of how hard it is to be me, and how ever so much more difficult my life is than yours.
Before I removed the post, though, comments started coming in. Lovely, supportive comments. Their offerings of support, and statements of identification and empathy without judgment or advice-giving, were so meaningful to me that I bit the bullet and kept it online with you. Wow. Just wow. I felt so loved.
Oh, Facebook, I thought you totally helped make this depression thing more doable. With you, I could look at responses to my posts about Depression when I was ready, or choose not to read them at all. I could be home alone but surrounded by people that cared about me. I could delete or change my statement. It added a whole new aspect to treatment, one in which I could take control. And the importance for people with mental illness taking control when they feel out of control (before control is taken away from them) cannot be overstated.
But you helped me to realize that I don’t really need you. Because of the support I could garner through you, I am ready to tackle my social anxiety and see real people. To be intimate with people actually next to me in real life.
To be honest, I feel socially isolated by you, even codependent. I’m sorry, but I just can’t turn you on anymore. And as much as I get sucked into the light of the screens in my life, the light of my children and my wife are much brighter. I have to write a letter, read a book, call a friend, and see real people. And then, of course, I’ll probably post about it.
Yours truly (sad face emoj),
This post is part of the Here.Now series, which seeks to destigmatize mental health,
and is made possible by UJA-Federation of New York and The Jewish Board.
You can find other educational mental health resources here.