I get overwhelmed by huge amounts of information and it really hurts my head. My last consultant said he thought it was because I had become a person with bipolar disorder who was more manic than depressed when for years it had been the other way around.
I began taking photos after my dad died and there was money from the sale of our childhood home and the aforementioned consultant and I both agreed that it was a wonderful way to block out the information that constantly threatened to overwhelm me and it gave me a focus that I hadn’t had before.
I still get overwhelmed by things outside my head. Noise on television or sounds that seep in through the windows. The chorus of non-stop chatter on the street that I can’t block out with a bubble made with my mind. My dog barking, my cats purring and even my rats shifting things about in my cage all overwhelm me.
At time I go into periods of dissociation during which I don’t recognise my surroundings and I get lost even though I’m possibly close to home. Sometimes I can find my way back home because I know where it is even though I don’t feel it’s there. It’s an incredibly frightening experience.
One of the ways I try to minimise being overwhelmed is by following small amounts of people on Twitter and have less than 60 friends on Facebook. I can cope with that amount and it means that it’s a good way of getting to reality on the days that reality avoids me.
Recently David Bowie died and I was one of the first people in my timeline to tweet the breaking news report. I didn’t add a comment or say how much I would miss him because I won’t. I wasn’t a fan of his music, I knew (and still know) little about him.
Very quickly my timeline was full of tweets about David Bowie, how wonderful he was, how people were shocked, how they were in tears and how devastated they were. I’m sure that some of these people were sincere and I’m quite sure that a lot of the retweets I was seeing was about jumping on a bandwagon and not sincerity.
I tweeted that it all felt like overkill and ended the tweet with a set of abbreviations that indicated I was swearing. I did that because in a matter of minutes I was totally overwhelmed by it all. Twitter had gone from being a link to reality to a place of the kind I used it to get away from.
Immediately I was unfollowed by some people, soft blocked and blocked by others and berated for not allowing people to grieve; the word “belittling” was used. It was clear that whilst people could shout with grief I wasn’t allowed to be overwhelmed or speak of it and it felt that my words were deliberately misinterpreted. I felt bullied and by people who had always spoken of equality and how important it was. I’m quite sure that more people will unfollow me when they read this but that’s there choice and I won’t argue with them about it.
Later in the day I deleted that tweet and published a series of tweets that explained how and why I felt. I was rounded upon and told I was rude and vicious by people who admitted that they hadn’t read the tweets but they thought their actions were justified because I wasn’t grieving over David Bowie.
The times the crowd rounds on you so viciously is far more often than it should be. It’s a form of mob rule. I have had messages in the past from people who have said that the bullying of me that they witnessed was horrible but they felt that they couldn’t intervene because they were afraid that they would be bullied too.
This shouldn’t happen. If free speech is fine for one person then it’s fine for all people. I shouldn’t have been verbally abused for being different and not being able to cope even if I was in a minority. If social media is my lifeline then I have a right to use it in the way that works best for me. I bite my tongue several times a day when I disagree with somebody I’ve grown to care for (both on and off line) though sometimes I do let people know what I feel.
So, I’m overwhelmed, feeling bullied and still not grieving for David Bowie but I’m okay and when I return to Twitter in a few days I’ll still be me. A slightly more apprehensive me but still me.