Navigating Internet Use with Mental Illness - A Journal


#62

Really curious about the decisions regarding NoSurf’s future that led you to resign as a mod…if you don’t feel like discussing them publicly just let me know and I’ll send you an email.


#63

Do you know that feeling when you exit a longterm bad situation and just then realize how bad it has gotten? Like when exiting a toxic friendship/relationship or getting out of a bad living situation or leaving a bad job?

It’s like only when you get out and feel the other side, or feel life without it, and can be objective again is when you realize how much it really affected, maybe even harmed you. Some things just have the ability to crawl up on you like the situation getting so slowly worse that it seems like everything’s normal and nothing changed much until you’re out. And then you realize just how much you let slide, how you really let down yourself and let your guard down and just took it. Maybe laughed it off, maybe made excuses for it, downplayed it in your head, just accepted thing after thing, didn’t make it known it crossed your limits. You realize: If it would’ve been like this in the beginning, I wouldn’t have endured this at all. I would’ve called it quits immediately. But since it ramped up so slowly, it just always became the new normal, the exception, the outlier, a mishap in the otherwise normal thing. It was so hard to spot.

Do you know that feeling when something happens that isn’t even super bad in comparison to other things that have happened to you but it’s hitting that sore spot? That spot where other more hurtful things have hit and it feels like that new thing is hitting that bruise? On its own maybe it wouldn’t have caused harm, but it hurts when so much else has already happened in that regard.

It seems like I can’t guard myself against that, and like I have been repeatedly letting myself down. It’s easy to become cynical and bitter about that and what happened. Especially when you see a pattern of how this always happens to you but you still can’t stop it.
I think I’ve taken good care of most of my NoSurf goals and changed into the opposite of my Internet addicted self and what she felt. However, I think I have neglected some parts, like online boundaries and selfcare, and still suck at it.

I’m gonna take a 2 week break of this forum to take my time to heal and hopefully return. Kinda realized all this while listening to Ariana Grande’s ‘get well soon’ song. I need to take better care of myself in that regard and take my time with it or else it’s gonna become worse and I’m gonna be bitter about it.

See you then. Email address is in a post above.


#64

I’m returning 3 days short of the full 2 weeks for some important updates.

The above image is an Email from my teacher. It says I got a 100% in my last exam.

This is a big deal for me, because I used to casually skirt by in school. I was one of those kids who didn’t have to seriously study (except for Math, Physics etc.). I was able to get As, Bs and Cs with just looking at my notes one or two days prior, or in case of subjects like German or English, I didn’t do that at all. If I gave a damn, I could’ve easily been a straight A student, but I valued my free time more than any academic success, or at least I believed that. NoSurf made me realize it wasn’t really the free time I valued, it was the internet addiction taking up so much of my time and putting my focus elsewhere.

The last time I got 100% of the points must have been 6th grade. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get A’s, I just didn’t have all of the possible points.
If I could have put more effort into my grades back then, my path would be very different. I would’ve had access to different university degrees, and I would’ve had a better attitude to studying in university - because my lax approach just didn’t work there. But there’s no regret, because I am happy with how things turned out instead and right now, I can make a difference.
And I already started.

I think I made tremendous changes the past two years, and especially the ones since a year have been the best ones. I really genuinely improved every area of my life, every part of myself. I really feel happy and content, in control of my life, with a clear path, friends, the best girlfriend one could ask for, in our own home that has been coming along so well. I have a great employer, I am happy with the work I do and my first work evaluation was a success as well. I currently do not employ any blockers or restrictions on any of my devices because I don’t need them. I don’t use anything excessively; I have a healthy relationship with Netflix, Spotify and games, and otherwise I only use the internet to send messages/mails, google, order online, or read Cal Newport’s blog.

The time of absence was kind of like a vacation; kinda nice to spend even less time online, even less time concerned with online? Not curious about what’s going on, no responsibilities there, no pressure to check or post or engage people, no pressure to write.
Lots of tea drinking, embroidering, sitting in front of the fireplace, making and eating delicious food, cuddling, laughing with friends, taking a walk through the forest with my dog, reading, listening to music, playing co-op games with my girlfriend, decorating, journaling, being content just sitting there observing and being a little bored but in a good way, being productive with cleaning and school… even the time at work is nice because I really like the people there, the canteen food is nice (yes, I feel like that deserves mentioning because canteen food, as we all know, usually sucks) and it doesn’t feel like tedious work but being in the flow of something while socializing so at the end of the day, you come home… content. The two hour commute is really nice actually because it gives me space between work and home, and some time where I can only sit in the train and do whatever I want. Let’s face it, at home there’s always stuff to do or you should spend it with loved ones, so that commute time is really nice selfcare time where I can care for myself and enjoy alone time and get some stuff done for myself (reading, music, journaling, sometimes Netflix) so the focus is on my loved ones when I get home without me feeling like I have to postpone the stuff I love for others. The only sad thing is that my dog is getting old and sick, but that is unavoidable…

I’m glad I got the opportunity to get to know NoSurf and let it transform my life, and also being able to help grow it for a bit and contribute to it. It certainly helped me a lot.
Now I think it’s time to say goodbye to the forum (and the subreddit, but I haven’t been active there anyway anymore). I think it’s time for me to move on. I always believed that the NoSurf journey ends with leaving NoSurf as well, if you’re a normal member. This is a great place to seek advice, document your progress, and discuss topics in the NoSurf sphere, but if you’ve really been following the ideas well and have progressed til “the end” so to speak, you should discover that keeping this place around is entirely optional and maybe at some point, holding you back even. When I was a mod, of course I planned to stick around despite that because that was about managing a community and growing a project, helping people, spreading the ideas. But I stopped being a mod, and the absence showed me that I think I reached the last step. As an internet addict, at some point it would be good to not rely on blockers anymore because not only having more willpower but also having a different set of ideals and knowing how to spot and react to your triggers so your drug of choice is completely uninteresting to you. And at some point, just as there should be a point where you finish therapy, there should be a point where you leave your support group. You can always come back, but consider it riding the bike without training wheels.
We just have to realize when this place is therapy and a support group and a positive reminder of our goals, and when it is one of the last things keeping us going online again and again. The last thing in our lives emulating some aspects of social media.

I’m glad Nik posted the thread on how to use this forum responsibly. I remember one of the first threads I made on the forum when we still used XenForo forum software was “How can we make this forum less addicting?” and there were some interesting user ideas. Timers, a counter, etc. After a while, the thread got locked, and at some point after the discourse move, I deleted it because it didn’t seem to matter and was buried. I’m glad the ideas are getting taken up again.
I think it’s easy to justify staying here indefinitely because it has such a good cause and a supportive community, so we might stick around a lot longer or we check more often because we deem it central to our journey. That’s the difficulty with a support group that incorporates the stuff it helps against (internet, social media). It sometimes feels like eating a burger; and it’s a proper one, not the McDonalds kind, so we think it’s a little better… and because we ate a salad on the side it’s okay and healthy. Being on this forum is a lot better than generic social media, but that can justify a lot of addictive behaviors as well as justifying downright binges with “I was seeking advice, this is good, reading journals for hours benefits me”. Just something to be mindful of.

I’m glad I made it this far, and I believe in all of you to make it this far as well. Your approaches and journeys have been interesting, even though some of you felt so ashamed or above their past mistakes that they decided to delete their history.

I do not really want to abandon writing, especially writing about digital wellness related topics for practice and in case it helps anyone. I just want a place that I have control over, with no pressure on how many people will see it or how often I should post, and without having to conform to any standards, so I have been thinking about dumping my articles somewhere and working on some stuff whenever I have the time and ideas. Just a space to not give up the practice of writing about stuff I’m passionate about. I’ll let you know if I’ll set anything up, for now I didn’t yet.

I’ll visit the next few days in case someone posts here or sends me a pm, otherwise feel free to contact me at smellit95[at]web[.]de :slight_smile: I won’t visit anymore in 4 days, but of course the account and posts will remain intact (at least I don’t intend to do anything to them).


#65

Hey Ava,

I’m really happy that your life looks like its on a great trajectory, and its all thanks to the work and effort which you’ve put in. You’ve been somewhat of a role model to me in your journey to overcome internet addiction, and I really want to say thanks for the amazing, insightful, and well written posts. Your posts have been beyond helpful, and I really hope that this journal gets stuck to the top of the journal tab, because it is pretty much all anyone would need to get through the NoSurf journey.

I read your journal from start to finish when I joined NoSurf and it was incredibly informative and inspirational, and it really helped me to decided where I wanted to be with my ‘recovery’, understand my internet use, and give me a rough idea of how to develop my life into what I envisioned. And yes, I did justify spending hours on it by saying that it was helpful haha - I’m recognising my internet usage far more now in places where I try an justify it, like here, and am slowly moving away.

I really do believe that anyone’s goal in joining a support group should be to be able to stand on your own and walk away ok. I think you’re making the right decision in moving on, and I’m sure you’ll be just fine in conquering whatever challenges or adventures come your way in the future.

Best of luck and thanks for your invaluable contribution to the community,

Blue.

P.S. If you do decide to start a blog or something, please post the link here/pm me. I’d love to read it!


#66

I’ve been thinking of the forum yesterday, because it‘s the holidays again and I know that tech use usually spikes around that time. People are stuck at home, stuck with family, stuck inside because of bad weather and because everything is closed. And we often use technology to distract ourselves from that and from very difficult feelings and conversations with family, and from the silence and boredom.

So I’ve been meaning to give a quick update to remind you all that it‘s worth it, you‘re not alone, and it‘s possible. :sparkling_heart:

This is the first thing I’m writing online since I left the forum. I don’t use Reddit, I deleted my Tumblr, and I have nothing else since ages. My leave here didn’t change that! I know it is easy to spiral back into bad behaviors and habits once you leave your support group or daily reminder, but it hasn’t happened for me :slight_smile:

The reason you haven’t heard of a separate blog for my articles yet is because I decided there will be none. I technically love writing and sharing support and knowledge of some kind, but it is an online commitment tying me to the online world. It needs to be kept up, updated, checked, and it would fill my thoughts about having to write a new piece or questioning specific parts or sentences, or worrying about negative reactions or unwanted attention. And what the last few weeks have shown me is that I enjoy not having any online commitments, nothing to take care of, no responsibilities in that regard, no anxiety about people with bad intentions interacting with my stuff. Since I was 12 years old, I had social media accounts. I am now 23 years old, that’s 10+ years of the above mentioned stuff. It personally just feels healthier to me to not have to entertain any of it anymore :slight_smile: to not be actively present online is peace of mind to me. I feel comfortable writing this post, because it is obviously in a kind online space and for a good cause, and not something that feels like I have to keep it up and think about it a lot.

So, NoSurfing longterm even without the community is definitely possible!

  • I use my computer every few weeks, usually for school stuff, and internet happens to be disabled (because usually my LAN cable downstairs is unplugged (I use devolo LAN via power lines and outlets) and I am too lazy to plug it back in, and it has also been a good help accidently).
  • I turned ScreenTime back on on my phone and set a time limit of 3h 30min out of curiosity. Turns out I usually spend between 50 minutes and 2 hours on it, depending on the day. I think that’s pretty good. I use it for WhatsApp, Headspace, Duolingo, Banking, Notes, Reminders, Calendar, Recipes and Public Transport. The time usually spikes when I use it for recipes and have the cooking app open while chopping stuff in the kitchen.
  • I cancelled my Spotify premium and replaced it with Duolingo Plus. I had seen the Spotify end of year statistics for my account, and decided that 15.000+ minutes of distraction was crap. I had listened to the same artist for 10 hours too. At some point, you gotta decide if you listen to music because you like it, or if it’s a compulsion, or just something to distract you and fill the silence because you can’t deal with it or your thoughts. Some music also just affects you negatively, and for me personally, it caused some annoying side effects when I try to focus. I was barely finding enough time to practice Swedish, which is more productive and making me a lot happier than music, so I decided to invest into something better than plain entertainment, or a negative comfort.
  • So I‘m usually working, at school, reading, doing embroidery, playing with/walking the dog, being with my girlfriend, journaling, cool trips with her, cooking/baking, studying, practicing Swedish, doing chores… I am planning to join a Badminton club soon as well. We also have the weekly game or movie evening, and I suck so much at Scrabble. I know this maybe doesn’t seem much to people, but there’s only so much time I have, and it’s been good to crack down on my million interests and invest most in the ones that are actually feasible and good for me. I would get a lot less done if I still had social media!
  • I‘m continuing to get A‘s both in exams and as an oral grade, and I‘m vice class spokesperson and get along really well with everyone. My employer is pretty happy with me and I love my work so far, it‘s really fun and worth the 2 hour commute.

Cutting out social media and an active online presence in general has made me a lot calmer, more collected, more focused and has given me more time for myself and the things that matter to me, and have allowed me to process things, decide what is important to me and my life, and to focus well on that. And that’s what I wish for everybody! It’s a nice feeling knowing you don’t need the internet, but it‘s there to make some stuff easier. Like you put it in a place where it actually enriches your life instead of controlling it.

A book I really want to recommend you all is „Daring Greatly“ by Bréné Brown. It has honestly helped me a ton, and should be read by everyone. NoSurf is showing us ways to deal with the technology in our life, but we also need help dealing with the emotions that are uncovered when the tech is quiet. I feel like that is the perfect book for that. It features so much interesting data, realizations, and ways to conquer bad habits we have - all in relation to vulnerability, processing bad emotions like shame, mindfulness, practicing gratitude, setting boundaries etc.
Most importantly, I would like to ask everyone who reads this to read the sub chapter „The Care and Feeding of our Spirits“ (at page 146 in my book). It‘s about so called shadow comforts (frantic attempts to soothe ourselves and our bad feelings, instead of real pleasures nourishing us), and when to draw the line between comfort/pleasure and numbing. I feel like this is a topic central to NoSurf and reading this helps bring some more clarity in what you should allow yourself, and what you should reduce in terms of tech. It saves a lot of trial and error. What I find the most important is that it gives so many examples, and explains differences between genders in handling bad feelings, so it‘s literally good for everyone.

At last: I know it‘s crappy for some people now to be locked inside with not much to do and temptation around the corner, or having to bear bring close to people you dislike, or alone; so you want to numb yourself with excessive hours online. Please remember what‘s on the line: your mental health, physical health, your focus, your peace of mind, your grades, your progress, … you know. Instead of the easy way out that’s gonna end with guilt and return of some symptoms again, choose the one that is better longterm. Read a book, journal your feelings, meditate, practice a language or writing or an instrument, do sports, take a walk, continue the art piece you wanted to finish, make an effort to spend time with people, take a bath, bake cookies, invite people for a game evening, take care of what you’ve been procrastinating on (especially school or uni work!). I am so proud of you for making it this far, just continue on.
Make 2019 a good one.


#67

Ava, you probably won‘t read this but if you ever do, I want you to know that I‘m proud of what you‘ve done and happy that you are content and moving forward.

Have a good 2019 yourself. I‘m sure you will.