You Decide What Your Mind Is Exposed To and Don’t Apologize For It!
Growing up, my dad was always into politics and I enjoyed watching and learning with him. One of my favorite things to do would be to watch the news with my dad and talk about some of the controversial issues facing our country or the world. If I was doing something around the house, I would have CNN on in the background. Or, if I wasn’t able to get out of bed, I would watch the news all day long in an effort to feel like an educated and semi productive human being.
My dad always told me that in order to be an intelligent person in society, you HAD to know what was going on in the world. As time went on and things on the news became more and more depressing, I slowly backed away from exposing myself to it. I also would avoid news articles and even local news channels. With all I was dealing with in my own life, seeing all of the terribleness that was going on around the world would just upset me. Plus, there was nothing I could do about it so I was really exposing myself to it in order to be what my dad would call an “intelligent human being.”
Mental health is fragile…
I remember the exact moment I realized my mental health was fragile and I needed to do everything possible not to expose myself to negative things, if I could avoid it. I was always a huge Greys Anatomy fan and after being inpatient for a couple weeks, my doctor discharged me on the night that the show was on. I remember being so excited to watch it in my own home and on my own comfy couch with my dogs. As soon as I saw the inside of an operating room on the show, I started covering my eyes and screaming “turn it off! Turn it off!” to my parents. At first, my dad gave me the “come on Ris….” look but when I continued to try to barricade my head in pillows and find the remote to at least mute it, I think both my parents realized I didn’t have any control over my reaction. I would have ran to another room if I wasn’t just home from surgery with a tube in my stomach.
This was the beginning of me no longer wanting to watch the news or really know much detail about what was going on in the world. To me, I had enough trouble handling all that was going on in my own little world that to add in the depressing news was something I could no longer handle. The emotions I felt after seeing something or reading something on the news were so negative that I eventually stopped exposing myself to it all together. If a family member or friend would bring up something tragic that happened, I would try my best not to internalize it. I would sing songs in my head or think about a funny sitcom as to not be rude.
I always felt badly about this. I felt like by not learning or caring to learn about some of the things facing our country that I was somehow a bad person. Or, an ignorant person, as my dad would say. I believed this to be true for many, many years.
However, I now realize that I have every right to decide what my mind/body will be exposed to and what it won’t be. There are way too many things out of my control that destroy my mental health so adding on something else negative voluntarily is not something I am willing to do anymore. There are times when I still feel badly about it but most of the time, I have accepted that this is where I am in life. Hopefully, my own little world and life will improve so much with time that I will be emotionally able to handle seeing and learning about all that is going on on a bigger scale. But, until that time, I am going to continue doing what is best for me.
Can you relate at all? Are you able to watch the news without it depressing you? Do you find the news somewhat distracting? Is it too much to handle when you’re going through a lot with your IBD? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!