Doctor’s Orders

Dogs TV

Yesterday afternoon I saw my psychiatrist at group therapy. After confessing that I’ve been spending over ten hours a day (honestly, probably far more) on social media and that I’ve been unable to fall asleep at night, my psychiatrist told me that I am socially overstimulating myself. He pointed out that my online activity is a form of social stimulation and reminded me that social stimulation triggers hypomania in me. He also pointed out that I went from no social interaction outside my family in January to over ten hours a day in July. So, my dose of Depakote® (divalproex sodium) has been increased by an additional 250 mg a day, and I have to limit the hours I spend online, especially at night after dinner.

Dinner serves as an organizing and defining event of the day for me. Family dinner time is more or less unplugged; although, honestly, we do allow our son his iPhone on which he watches YouTube videos. We sit in front of the TV as we eat. The three humans in the family enjoy unwinding and more or less passively watching the television as we alternate between watching our son’s favorite shows (“The Simpsons”) and our shows, shared favorites include “The Big Bang Theory” and old “Twilight Zones”. Even our huge labradoodle Thumper joins in watching. Thumper has been a member of our family since my son was six which makes him nearly eight-years-old now. For a dog his size, he’s well past middle-aged. Our younger, smarter, more rambunctious poodle Coco does not find the television nearly as interesting. He’s more curious about the physical world around him. Coco has earned the nicknames The Scientist and Quality Control, for he always notices and has to inspect by touching his nose to and licking anything new or different as soon as he enters a room.

Okay, so here’s my new plan (in addition to more Depakote): dinner, TV, then READ. I’m okay if I use a black background screen with dim grey text while reading in bed beside my sleeping husband. What I must NOT do, because it stimulates me and interferes with my sleep, is switch back and forth to surf the Internet to research something that I read nor can I check on social media and email. I MUST limit social interaction if I am to tamp down this hypomania.

Last night, I must confess (and to my husband’s gentle dismay and disapproval), after dinner and leisurely watching TV while playing solitaire (relaxing, not stimulating), I did quickly go through my email before heading up to bed. I didn’t want to wake up to fifty emails. I already had over twenty. I have reset notifications on my various devices, so that there is no sense of urgency. No more badges telling me how many tweets, Facebook posts, or emails I have. I never allowed them noise-making notifications — OBNOXIOUS. The only apps I allow to notify me are cell phone text messages (mostly from my husband and my son and I want to communicate readily with them) and phone calls (again, mostly from family).

Let’s see how it goes…

30 thoughts on “Doctor’s Orders

  1. rosewiltshire July 13, 2014 / 1:03 am

    I can relate to a lot of this. I’ve turned off the notifications and make sure I take breaks some evenings from social media. I think it gives some kind of a dopamine hit whenever you see something new and you can become addicted & overstimulated. Hope the sleep starts improving for you it makes a heck of a difference xx

    Like

  2. lulufille July 12, 2014 / 10:08 pm

    Unfortunately, I think this over-stimulation is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in our society. I, myself, struggle with this, and it’s extremely detrimental to my sleep habits. I hope to follow your lead and cut down on some screen time myself! Best of luck to you! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  3. Zephyr July 11, 2014 / 7:24 am

    Great post ! Social media can be over stimulating for many people. Especially us. I hope and pray that you be better soon. I can totally relate to the increase in Depakote, I myself recently had 250 mgs added. Hope you feel great soon. You are already doing a great job. Stay blessed !

    Like

    • Kitt O'Malley July 11, 2014 / 3:42 pm

      Thanks, Zephyr. Already, I’ve been able to fall asleep before midnight. I’m not waiting too long before taking clonazepam, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. stockdalewolfe July 10, 2014 / 3:47 pm

    You did it again!! An enlightening post that so many of us can relate to and an eye opener. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us because it is so instructive. My husband calls my phone “the infernal machine” and hates email and thinks I spend way too much time on the computer but really the phone is the thing he hates. I should add, he is a psychiatric social worker. I would not dream of telling my Doc how much time I spend on social media– have given him a rough idea. When I am manic I start following tons of people and, as a consequence, get hundreds of emails of new posts and comments. But I don’t read them all. The thing that gets me is if someone “likes” a post of mine, I feel obliged to visit their site. The more “likes” you get, well, you get the idea. And the really bad thing I do is if I can’t sleep, I check the email. Plus I am an animal rights armchair activist which keeps me busy as well. Housework suffers and so does my mind. The result is a dysphoric mood with mania and an inability to read anything longer than 10 pages. So listen to your therapist and protect yourself. Social media does take a toll. Husband is right and so is your Doc.
    P.S. And I am not even on FB– too revealing for me. Twitter is useful for getting stuff “out there” but I wonder about it otherwise and don’t really tweet but have started, thanks to you, tweeting a post I like.

    Like

    • Kitt O'Malley July 10, 2014 / 5:44 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Stockdale. I, too, start following too many great bloggers out there. Will continue to blog and try to find right balance without tipping the scales.

      Like

  5. dyane July 9, 2014 / 8:44 pm

    This has really hit close to home for me! What an outstanding, candid blog post. I am glad you have such a great, caring doctor. You have inspired me to cut down my use of social media, especially in the evenings. I prefer to read books then myself.

    I don’t become hypomanic from too much social media; I become exhausted and overwhelmed. I feel as if I am experiencing certain aspects of ADD. Moreover, I use social media to procrastinate doing chores and projects that I not only need to do but yearn to do, I.e. the book.

    Here’s to a more healthy usage of this technology! I don’t want it to be all or nothing. Again I seek to follow that lovely proverb “moderation in all things”! Thank you for writing such a relevant piece!

    Like

    • Kitt O'Malley July 10, 2014 / 5:47 pm

      Dyane, good luck finding the right healthy balance. Will continue to blog and to tweet out posts I want to pass on to others.

      Like

      • dyane July 10, 2014 / 5:50 pm

        I wrote about your Dr. Orders post and linked to your blog in tomorrow’s post. Thanks for the inspiration yet again!

        Like

  6. bipolar2what July 9, 2014 / 5:42 pm

    I am starting to hide people on Facebook that trigger me. Mainly one friend. It is brutal watching her have plenty of time for other friends and watching her children grow. Because I am not allowed to be a part of her life anymore. Her choice. I used to be honorary aunt. Now I am nothing. It feels like a death. I can’t keep looking at the photos of what I am missing. Dagger to my heart.
    I hope this doesn’t mean you will stop blogging. My therapist workbook actually says blogging is a pleasurable activity that can distract yourself from painful emotions.

    Like

    • Kitt O'Malley July 10, 2014 / 5:49 pm

      With Facebook I’m trying to get a handle on grouping my close friends and family so that I can quickly scan posts, but still find myself overwhelmed! Twitter can be difficult. I like to tweet great posts I’ve read, but find it difficult to communicate clearly in 140 characters without being misunderstood. I will, of course, continue to blog.

      Like

      • bipolar2what July 10, 2014 / 6:38 pm

        Great. Glad to hear. Wish you well with the other media. I let tv suck me in way to often. That is one I need to work on.

        Like

  7. glenn2point0 July 9, 2014 / 5:38 pm

    Hi Kitt, right there with you with having to change my behaviours so as not to overstimulate. Like you I read ebooks and I have the night mode set to a black background with a soft amber color. I also make sure my brightness is set to very low. I will then nod off after a very short time. The low brightness even helps if I do check emails or my WordPress notifications. Watching videos is a no go as it does stimulate the sense and my alertness.
    I hope the higher dosage meds goes well for you.
    cheers, Glenn

    Like

  8. Doreen Bench July 9, 2014 / 3:11 pm

    I’m so glad you are blogging about this. It’s so true that social media is a huge trigger for hypomania – I know it can be for me and I really have to moderate as best I can. Best to you and your goals!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley July 10, 2014 / 5:50 pm

      Thank you, Doreen! Love that you are cycling. Next week we will be cycling at Mammoth. I’ll post some pictures.

      Like

  9. sf July 9, 2014 / 12:32 pm

    Your doc’s a wise one. I wonder if more docs should advise folks to get off of social media more. I remember how a woman in a ladies’ Bible study group had once mentioned that she wished we wasn’t on social media cuz she’d get more done with her time each day. I think everyone else in that class could have absolutely related to what she said, but didn’t wanna come out and say so (including me). There was one blogger whom I had read here on WP who had made a post about why she wasn’t on Twitter and Facebook. According to her, she just didn’t feel she had any use for them. I agree with her on that in regards to Twitter. Although more celebrities actually have and use Twitter accounts more than Facebook, what’s my reason for following them? I could care less about their Crossfit workouts, etc. Hahaha! Anyhow, I had gotten myself off of Facebook, but do re-open my account from time to time to see if I’m missing out on anything important in my friends’ lives back home. A couple of my co-workers had passed away, which I didn’t know until much later, which I would have known about had I been a frequent Facebook user. So I’m once in awhile checking what’s up on there. The problem I have with FB is that they don’t really delete your account when you click to deactivate it. It just remains dormant with all your content there. That was on the news about a year ago, that it’s sorta a privacy issue if they don’t really delete the account your wanting to be off the Internet forever (which I guess won’t ever be the case with anything we put up there in the first place). Anyhow, so that’s how I go on and off of FB. I delete it and then sign back on again, and it’s still there. It’s nuts. Haha!

    Please take care as you take your medication, follow your doc’s orders, spend some great quality time with your family and pets, and read ’em books. Have you ever read the entire Narnia books by C.S. Lewis before? I think there are 7 books in all. I didn’t care for the movie much (Liam Neeson’s voice for the lion bugged the heck outta me – haha!), so I just bought the book from my library’s book sale (for just a buck!) and it had all of the volumes in it. I was intending to get it to give as a gift to a Narnia-lovin’ friend someday, but had ended up reading the entire thing myself. Well, in case you hadn’t read that one yet, just wanted to suggest it to ya.
    I’m not really good at book reviews (can’t articulate much ’bout books really), but had mentioned about the book in this post: http://untitledpress.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/how-narnia-reminded-me/

    Thanks for always leavin’ such very nice comments on my blog and for makin’ a stop-by when ya do. :oD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley July 9, 2014 / 12:42 pm

      Thank you. We own the Narnia series of books, but for some reason my son doesn’t like them. I LOVE C.S. Lewis. I do most of my reading in the dark on my iPad in bed. Works for me as long as I don’t toggle between reading and surfing the Internet and checking on social media. I’ve been using it as a book reader for years and enjoy it, don’t need a light to read, very calming in the dark with a black screen and faint text. I have quite a list of books in my Kindle app for me to read because I’ve met many writers and want to read their work. Thanks again for the support!

      Liked by 1 person

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s