Fighting Isolation, 280 Characters at a Time
Desperate times call for desperate measures. So I joined Twitter.
Social media, we are relentlessly warned, is detrimental to one’s mental health. A simple cursory search reveals every major news and mental health organization commenting and reporting as much. Indeed, data and research tell us that social media users, especially children and teens, should be cautious of their digital presence, as it creates the risk of increased anxiety, peer pressure, bullying, and countless other issues. All that is true, and yes-situationally-people should use caution. There are millions of cautionary tales and viral mistakes to be found regarding the brave new digital frontier. It is enough to drive a sane person crazy.
But in my case, social media helps me keep the crazy at bay.
I was always one of those people eschewing and hateful towards social media. A private person and somewhat of a homebody even in the best of times, I never felt a pressing need to share every detail of every minute with the world. But in the past 18 months I have been on a strange and unexpected journey in life that changed that. A serious, life-threatening medical issue arose that changed my life forever.
The issue arose from complications of a surgery I had years ago, while on active duty. As it turned out, that surgery had been botched, to use the nicest word I can. Nobody, not even the doctors, knew just how badly until they went in for what was to be a routine surgery - which turned out to be anything but. More issues and complications presented, and this necessitated extended hospital stays, multiple surgeries, rehab, and the end of life as I knew it physically. A complete recalibration of life to the “new normal”, as the health professionals maddeningly keep calling it. The physical demands, such as the 70-pound weight loss and strength erosion, learning to walk again, and complete change in dietary and other day to day needs, was difficult but mostly expected. What was occurring medically was always patiently explained to me by the providers who took amazing care of me.
What I didn’t count on, or expect, was the mental and emotional toll.