It is no secret that I have CPTSD and OCD. Of course, over the years, I’ve learned to adapt and to take care of myself appropriately. And that includes a lot of different things.
Lately, I’ve noticed a trend on social media wherein people are encouraged to ask their friends or family if they have emotional space or if they’re in the right frame of mind to do something or to listen to the problems of their friends. And I have an internal conflict about this.
I fully support the concept of asking someone if they feel up to doing something. Having CPTSD, I may be fine for weeks or even months and then something out of the blue may totally zap me. Also, I’m extremely introverted and, often, life outside my home holds little interest for me. I mean, that’s just me. When we have friends or loved ones that we know are living with an issue, it’s a good, respectful, and caring action to ask if they are up to doing something or accepting them as they are if they change their mind or if they try and things don’t work out as you’d hoped.
But, here’s where I fall off the bandwagon. We’re a society that encourages people to reach out if they are struggling because we don’t want people feeling alone or committing suicide. And yet now there is a popular double-standard of them now needing to ask, “Hey how are you feeling and can you listen to me because I’m really struggling?”
I mean, as it stands, people do not reach out because they feel like they are a burden to their friends, family, and sometimes to society as a whole. So to create a new societal rule that makes them first ask whether they’re being a burden is inhumane at best. And it isn’t their fault.
How to Improve & Repair Your Emotional Availability
I fully understand the need to protect how we feel. Society is no where near what it used to be. It’s gotten worse in some respects, and yet it’s also improved in others compared to decades past. Yet, the last thing any of us need to do is make those who are struggling feel like they’ve confirmed we feel like they’re a burden or an inconvenience.
The onus is on each of us to determine how we can, at an individual level improve or repair our emotional availability. Here is some practical advice from me, someone with CPTSD who was suicidal years ago, to you:
- Do not depend on any one person to make you feel happy. It isn’t their job to fulfill you just as it is not your job to be the catalyst of all that is happiness and unicorns for another person. Happiness is and must remain an inside job. Otherwise, you will never even find contentment because your self-worth in that whether you are deserving of happiness is directly tied to one person. If they leave or they’re unable to meet your standard, you’re automatically unhappy. And it isn’t their fault. It is your own fault. You must learn how to make yourself happy.
- Spend less time arguing with strangers online. Seriously. It makes you miserable. It creates unhappiness in your spirit and takes away from your emotional availability because you’re tied up in bullshit where you screaming your opinion and name calling another human won’t make a goddamn bit of difference anyway. And then you’re all worried and exhausted because no matter how much TYPING IN ALL CAPS AT STRANGERS ABOUT HOW THEY ARE DESTROYING YOUR WAY OF LIFE OR WHAT COULD BE doesn’t change anything except how you feel inside.
- Spend less time on social media. Yes, I’m serious. If all you do is find the worst possible things to read regarding politics and the human condition, and you’re only reading thing that support your personal beliefs, you’re worrying yourself to death and burning out your emotional availability. Limit your time on social media and with negative media. You already know both sides are biased and aren’t going to tell you the full truth.
- Change your personal mantra. “But I don’t have a mantra, you crazy hippie!” Yes you do. It’s the thoughts you continually think about yourself, about others, and about the world. And they wear you the fuck out. I know. I’ve dealt with it. I continue to deal with it from time to time. I am not saying that you need to lie to yourself or delude yourself. I am saying that you need to take stock and counter the lies you know your brain tells you.
- Get a hobby. Do something besides stare at a screen. Get many hobbies. Learn to knit. Learn to use a loom. Learn yoga. I don’t know, but do something that takes you away from the screen and brings you fully present into the real world for at least a little bit.
- Exercise. Gasp. I know. How dare I suggest such an atrocity. Exercise is a great outlet for all of that pent up rage and faux-offense you’re carrying. It also creates happy hormones. No, you don’t have to become a powerlifter or a marathon runner. But do something. There are a lot of free workout videos for all fitness levels on both YouTube and Amazon Prime. Start with 15 minutes per day of some sort of exercise and try to work up to 30 minutes or an hour.
- Get outside even if you don’t feel like it. And I often do not feel like it. You don’t have to go out into public. Go out in your yard and get some fresh air for just ten minutes. Bring a timer. Listen to a guided meditation through headphones. Weed the garden. Throw a frisbee for your dog.
Getting away from the constant drama that comes with social media is the best prescription for improving and repairing your emotional availability. I hope those tips help you as much as they helped and continue to help me.