I love Twitter. It connects me so easily and readily to like minded souls and organisations. It forges ties which an ill-fitting introvert like me would really struggle to effect alone, not being socially adept. But I can’t deal with it any more and here’s why.
It is not the first time my mental health has been poor – but I am suffering from very bad anxiety right now, to the point of constant, non-stop obsession. To be specific, climate change anxiety. I am not going to talk about the ins and outs of climate change as it is so triggering and disturbing I would rather not bring it up. But we all know that modern living from root to branch is the problem and that habits need to be changed. In order to allay anxiety, I’ve started, slowly, not enough (NEVER enough, that is impossible) to make some changes.
The problem is Twitter and the news.
When I go on to twitter or listen to the radio, there is always someone who earnestly feels the need to retweet the fact/opinion that it doesn’t matter what I do and it’s a risible waste of time and things are getting worse and worse faster and faster. My efforts to reduce plastic use are laughable. My garden is pointless. It doesn’t make a difference whether I join the Green Party, as I have done, or not. It’s so hard to motivate outwards toward making a positive change and then there’s always an article saying we are doomed and reminding me of the harm and damage we humans have done and continue to do (again I am not mentioning details due to my *severe* anxiety on the subject)
Today after months and months of enduring people blithely retweeting these grim articles and then cheerfully going about their day while mine was utterly destroyed and I was forced to give up what I had planned to do because of the wave of depression that would burn through me like an illegal gorse fire started by an Irish farmer – after one two many tweets like this, I gave one or two of the tweeters a tongue lashing. I called them out for being irresponsible and cruel. That is not to say that those folk were more at fault than anyone else, but they just decided to pollute my timeline at the wrong time. The article that took the final, solitary, unique and recherche biscuit was by a man in the Guardian who said individual changes were a waste of time and only corporate reform would make any difference. I don’t deny the need for corporate reform, but mocking the pathetic little work I did to try and ease my overwhelming, crushing, constant sense of guilt at being human and fouling everything – mocking that *just* to be able to have a dig ag neoliberalism and cheer on Corbyn – was that really necessary? Did it occur to the author that many many many of us are scared witless and just trying our best and feel his blithe dismissal is just plain cruel?
Unfortunately the person who retweeted that (and which someone else tweeted into my TL) is someone who has a lot of influence in the book industry, and I hope to continue a long-term career as a novelist. I may have shot myself in the foot a little there, since even the mildest mannered people don’t like being yelled at on twitter so why should they take any interest in my work when I’m arguing with them elsewhere? I can’t blame them, really.
Yet in some ways it’s a relief to stop pretending I fit in or am a part of the Irish establishment. I always knew I was teetering on a precipice there. The intention was to stay quiet and stick to author brand, whatever that is, until the other books were done, but my mental health just couldn’t quite make it that far. I’m just not like those other authors and I have to accept that. It’s not as if this misery I’m going through is helping me even write.
I’ve done a lot of writing but have to accept that historical fiction just has a longer arc. But when you feel you don’t even have the right to write, that it’s an absurd privilege when the planet is in such danger, when Climate Change is constantly, constantly reminding you of the endangered animals and the pointlessless of the endeavour, it’s a real exercise of will to keep going.
But I’m keeping going. Nulla dies sine linea, even it’s just one linea.
I don’t know what else to say really. I guess my author brand is shot. Maybe, to be honest, that’s a massive fucking relief. I couldn’t keep going with it.
Anyway I have so little mental discipline I might be gone all of five minutes. But probably longer. I think I need some intervention for this wave after wave after wave of bloody anxiety. If you want to stay in touch, leave a comment on this blog post or use the contact form. It will log your address and I will drop everyone who comments a “thank-you” mail.
Yours in exhaustion