Systemic scleroderma has taught me many things; some useful and interesting, and others relating to the more difficult side of life. When the disease hit me, it was like a tornado wiped out every energy store I had, leaving me empty and depleted. Because of this, I quickly learned the importance of conserving my energy wherever possible.
I think about my energy stores as a bucket of water — the water is my available energy and the bucket is me. Before my scleroderma diagnosis, my bucket was full to the brim. These days it is never filled more than halfway with water, if I’m lucky. If I’m not, then there is a little liquid at the bottom, so I can manage only to shower.
Learning to conserve my energy has been such a valuable lesson, though lately I have been dismayed to find something has been secretly making holes in my bucket. Many of those holes have come about through interactions with other people.
I am a very sensitive person who picks up other people’s “vibes” easily. Socialization drains me. Sadly, some manipulative people will still try to find ways of making use of me despite knowing I have very little energy to give. So, I have learned to be extremely selective when making new friends. These days I don’t take up opportunities to get to know people, simply because I don’t have the energy to offer.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been unwell, which empties my bucket even more. My drain has become more obvious. I’ve realized that my use of social media has punched a huge hole in my bucket.
I do think there are good purposes for social media platforms; after all, they may be where you discovered this column. While social media can be useful for connecting with support communities, there is often an expectation to invite others to view the intimate details of our lives: windows into living rooms, social ups and downs, relationships, opinions, thoughts, and feelings.
This aspect of social media has encouraged me to engage with people at a level that is more intimate than if we were speaking in person. I find it very draining. Posting conflicting or manipulative comments directed toward others seems to be much easier to do from a laptop in the safety of home. This does not create good vibes, even if I am only reading these posts and not participating in the conversations. It’s created a gaping hole in my bucket, so I’ve decided that it has to stop.
My decision to reduce my social media usage has been a good one. I noticed an immediate sense of relief last week when I signed out of my social networks and instant messaging systems. I now check them only briefly once a day.
Patching another drainage hole has resulted in a slowly refilling energy bucket. I am enjoying the increased space to heal and enjoy my own company. I feel more liberated from the noise of the world.
Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.