Since my daughter’s death in February 2013, and Baby J’s birth in February 2014 (the significance of them being a year apart is not lost on me!), I’ve been suffering with anxiety. I talked a little about how this escalated after the birth of my son this year, and how with my weakened physical strength, my mental strength gave way to waves of anxiety that shook me and my hubby up for a while.
After the birth and things had settled, I found a kind of routine, dropping my children off at school and then spending my mornings with Baby J and daytime telly (something I’m not used to as a WAHM). Programmes like the Wright Stuff and This Morning became my main source of company. I quite enjoyed the gossip shows as they were light-hearted and sometimes informative.
But then I found my anxiety was getting worse.
If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you’ll understand how panic often creates panic. So, as I half-heartedly watched these programmes, I found I was absorbing every piece of information and would obsess about the bad stuff, sometimes turning to Google (gah! That makes everything so much worse!).
Inevitably each day, even hour, the programmes would always includes a mix of shocking, alarming, depressing, judgemental or downright spiteful news items. I was becoming increasingly agitated by the stories, and found, as well as my own worries and grief, I felt like I was carrying around the worries and grief of the entire world!
So, exactly two months ago, on 6th August, I turned off the News and stopped Googling about health worries.
If the News was on TV, I would turn over to another channel, even sometimes the Disney channel if a good Pixar film was on.
I unfollowed all the News pages on Twitter and Facebook, which had totally clogged up my feed with their inflammatory headlines.
I stopped buying or reading newspapers and magazines. (The only news I follow is my local newspaper, as they have done a lot to support our fundraising in the past but even still I make myself ignore their more worrying storylines.)
To give you an example of what I mean, I’ve broken my rule for this post and have had a look online at the example headlines that I’m talking about. I have deliberately taken these from the Daily Mail’s website because this is the kind of news that is portrayed on daytime TV news and magazine-style shows, and would often still be shown on more respected news programmes such as BBC News.
Shocking: Golden autumn is here: Beautiful Britain enjoys a final dry day – but brace yourself, heavy rain, flooding and 70mph winds are on their way
Alarming: Ebola could hit UK ‘within three weeks’: Scientists warn of 50% chance virus will spread here
Depressing: One in three employers say more and more staff are missing work to look after their elderly relatives or children
Judgemental: I lost my libido after giving birth
Spiteful: Strictly wooden! Judy Murray gets volley of Twitter abuse for ‘arthritic’ tennis themed cha cha routine on last night’s show
I’m a Comms person by trade and so turning off the news is a big deal. Don’t get me wrong, I see the benefits news programmes have informing us of important events. However, I’ve noticed over the years that all the news sources have changed their approach and seem to build on public anxiety rather than tell it as it is.
One look through this horribly depressing website and I’m already feeling a little more on edge. Oh no, the weather’s going to be awful, will it be safe for my hubby to travel? Am I going to get Ebola? What happens if we get ill and we can’t work? Should I be feeling guilty for not jumping back in the sack with my hubby after I had my baby?
For people who are less inclined to worry or be bothered by things they read, this is nothing, but to someone who is living with anxiety following the loss of a child as well as being a ‘neurotic’ new mum trying not to worry about every little thing, reading world news just adds to the pressure and creates an almost General Anxiety Disorder – where you don’t really know what you’re anxious about, you just are!
Someone suffering with anxiety needs to massively reduce their worries, not add to them! So, while I still need to heal, I will keep my focus on my immediate surroundings – my family, my home, my work, my community. My experiment to turn off the News has worked and I will ease my mind by watching ‘Enchanted’ on repeat if necessary (I love the ‘fluffy’ outlook on life in that film!).
Am I alone in this? I’d love to know what you think of the way we are fed news 24/7 and if you have noticed it upping your anxiety levels.