Fighting the Urge of Phone Addiction

Awareness of a technology addiction is one thing. Trying to change habits that are so ingrained in your psyche is a whole other beast. I’ve known for years now how dependent I am on technology. I’ve joked about it with family and friends. Joking about it makes it not real. Joking about it makes it a silly habit.

It wasn’t until Apple had a software update called screentime that shows how much time you spend on your phone that I was faced with the reality of what my casual phone habit had become. Once I could see the hours I raked up by numbers and data instead of estimates in my head, things didn’t change, at least not right away. I’d continue my old habits despite the evidence I spend too much had looming in my head several times. A few times, I even took off screentime so I didn’t have to know how many hours I was spending on my phone.

These last few months have been difficult and I found myself slipping into the habit of checking my phone at least every few minutes, if not every thirty seconds. I knew I had a lot going on so I thought it was okay to be distracted. That’s how I’ve always coped with unexpected shifts and major changes in my life. It comes as natural to me as breathing.

It’s not until I have distracted myself long enough that I can begin to really process and accept what is happening that I become aware of how much of a time suck a small screen can be. The worst part is being aware of a bad habit and trying to control it instead of allowing it to control me. It’s a battle within myself, my conscious mind trying to step into my subconscious. It takes time and hard work to change bad habits. Trial and error without judgment or criticism of myself are hard. Elimination of it all together only lasts for so long. Blocking of apps cost money. Setting controls and time constraints don’t work when I know the password.

Finally, I had enough of this and I asked my mom put in a passcode into my phone so I wasn’t able to extend past the limits I had set for myself. From 10 pm to 9 am, a lot of the apps on my phone are blocked off. This allows me to begin and end my day by doing other things or using my phone in a more productive way. For apps I use the most (i.e. Instagram), I have a two hour limit within that eleven-hour time span to be on it and when time’s up, I no longer have access to it unless I ask my mom to put in the code, which is surprisingly rare.

Now, a lot of you might be reading this and think, “two hours is a long time to be on an app.” I know it is. I could be doing more productive things with my time. However, I used to spend so much more time on that app, the number is too high for me to want to share it. Two hours is a reasonable and big drop from how much time I was spending on it before. It forces me to balance things in a way I wasn’t able to before. With only having a limited amount of time on an app, I have to prioritize my time if I want to check it throughout the day. Because once time’s up, I have to wait until tomorrow to check it again.

It’s been a real learning lesson for me. It’s better than eliminating it altogether and I’ve had to hold myself accountable for this habit I had unknowingly created. Obviously, I’m not the only one who has a social media/phone habit. Apple wouldn’t have created this screentime feature if only a few people had a problem. There wouldn’t be apps like Forest that forces you to step away from your phone any time from 10 minutes to two hours in exchange to build a tree and create a forest to have you focus and be present in your life. In the Apple app store, it’s said that over 2 million people in 126 countries have used this app in order to control their screentime.

The urge to always be on my phone is real. It’s both comforting and terrifying to know that I’m not the only one who spends too much time on my phone. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to spend less time on social media. I’m trying to break bad habits and find balance in my life. After months and years of struggling with my social media activity, I’m beginning to find balance and change how I use social media.

We’re living in a time where social media and the news cycle is both addictive and overwhelming. How much is too much? When living in a digital age, how do you find balance between using your time online vs. offline? How do you stay focused on what matters? Are you aware of how much time you’re spending on your phone? If you were able to see it in numbers, would you be willing to change?

There’s a real urge to look at your phone whenever you can. You only feel it when you’re trying to fight yourself from looking at it. All of this technology is still very new and it will be interesting to see what the future brings. Smartphones are already becoming less exciting with the updates not being extravagant enough for people wanting to upgrade their phones.

I’ve been reading articles about smartphone addiction and I came across this article worth reading. The fact that there’s shame around how much we use our phones is crazy to me. And yet, I don’t want to admit how many hours a day I was on my phone before I really began to find a balance because it’s embarrassing. I once told some people about how much I was on when it was on the low spectrum for me and they were appalled by how much time I was spending.

But then, once some of them started using screentime and began seeing their minutes add up, they began to change their tune. One of them even told me, “I didn’t realize how quickly all that time added up until I actually saw the numbers.” What can we do to fight this habit? It’s different for every person. For me, I try not to have my phone on or around me when I’m around other people. Setting time limits, build a tree with the Forest app, and leaving my phone in another room when I’m trying to not have it around me.

The first step is being aware of how you use your phone and why you gravitate towards it. The next step is to make a change. It’s not easy fighting the urge of a bad habit but if we want our future to be controlled by people and not robots, we need to begin the process now before it’s too late.

No Point of Reference

With each passing day, I’ve come to realize that for the last twenty-five years I have lived in my body, I haven’t really known the skin I’ve lived in. In the sense that I don’t pay attention to something until I’m forced to look at it by way of injury or illness.

The same questions run through my head every time as I try to access memories I do not have. Has this always been this way? Has this changed? What is different about this? Could it be different? Maybe? Or am I just now seeing this for the first time? These questions are better than what I automatically told myself when I was dealing with things as a teenager. I’m going to die. What I’m experiencing will kill me sooner than I wish. Somehow everything leads to death. I’d imagine myself having a different life from this one very minor but must be a life-altering moment for me. Of course, none of what I imagined actually happened and thankfully, my extreme anxiety has morphed into obsessive questioning (I know they both sound bad but at least one seems slightly more productive.)

Because I don’t pay attention to my body and it’s apparent creeks and shapes, when something out of the norm happens, I’m left feeling like a blind duck, waddling down an unfamiliar street. Without a point of reference, I’m left assessing a body part I haven’t paid too much attention to and asking the questions above while reminding myself not to panic, this may have been always been my normal and I just haven’t noticed it until now.

Referencing an old memory with my body when encountering present questioning is never ideal. I overcompensate for lost memories by creating stories in my head that are probably not true but they must be real because they’re the only things that give me comfort in this very moment. My thyroid has always been this size. Of course, my left hip has always popped. I did hear that noise coming from my left side while I was in the air. I can still walk. My eyes can squint again. That’s a stress zit, not a hormonal pimple. Most of these are true, while some are rationalized statements that don’t necessarily add up to the reality I live in but choose to believe at the moment so I don’t return to that younger version of myself.

This year has been a lot. I’ve realized how much I’ve grown and areas of my life where growth could be good for me. One thing I’ve realized from so many unexpected health issues throughout my life is how much I choose to ignore something until I’m forced to feel it. I do this in many aspects in my life, but my body in particular, has made me realize how much of my own skin and bones I do not know out of fear of what could happen if I do acknowledge it. Though I’m no longer a teenager, I must admit that fear and jumping to conclusions still lingers. Forgotten moments don’t help and questioning or telling myself false truths are good for a little while but not for a lifetime. In moments like these, I often wish I knew more about my body so when I’m in pain or something looks or feels off, I know what’s my normal. Maybe by writing this, I can develop reference points that will keep me from worrying as much in the future.

Unexpected Detours

I’ve been blogging for a few years now. And if I’m being honest, some weeks I don’t know what I should write about. I used to plan out what I would say but now I just wing it the day of. I know I should be better at planning things and get back into the habit of knowing what I want to say before I say it.

This isn’t a post about a struggle of blogging or writer’s block. It’s about feeling exhausted and tired after a long day and you choose not to write or post anything on the designated day. It’s about realizing that planning to do something doesn’t always work in your favor. Sometimes, life has a funny way of changing your plans with unexpected detours.

Two weeks ago, I woke up experiencing double vision. Tuesday I was feeling fine. Wednesday morning, I was seeing double and having eye pain. For the last two weeks, I’ve either had eye double or strain in one or both of my eyes. I’ve gone to multiple doctors, had an MRI, and been poked more times than I prefer. And I still don’t have a definite answer.

I think the most frustrating part about it is being told different things by different doctors. The neurologist ophthalmologist says one thing, the endocrinologist says another. It’s a lot of back and forth. Right now, the thinking is this could be caused by my thyroid. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s back in February. The neurologist ophthalmologist is pretty certain that my eye problem is caused by Graves’. I got a blood test to see if this is the case. It’s strange because the blood test I got last month and last week for my Hashimoto’s didn’t show any signs of Graves’.

Right now, I don’t know what’s causing this. The endocrinologist says Hashimoto’s can cause eye problems while the neurologist ophthalmologist says it’s very rare for Hashimoto’s to cause eye problems. Until I get the results of my blood test results, I have no way of knowing one way or the other. On Monday, I was at the neurologist ophthalmologist for a good three hours, which pretty much exhausted me for the day, hence why I didn’t post on Monday.

Writing is therapy for me. It allows me to write the thoughts that have been circling in my head for the last two weeks.  I’ve been reading a lot more, both books and articles. I’ve been leaning on what makes me happy. Playing with my cat, watching Friends and This Is Us. I know I will be okay. If this is indeed thyroid related, it can take six months or longer for this to go away. That’s a long time but I’ve learned that time moves faster the older I get.

My Essay Is Now Published!!

I won’t be posting a review today. Instead, I have some very exciting news. One of my essays is published!! I wrote this essay for a class in the spring of 2017. It’s about my journey to beginning to acknowledge my stutter and how that coincided with finding my passion for writing.

For almost a year, I had submitted this piece to different publications and received one rejection after another. I had gotten a DM from Z Publishing on Twitter in late April, asking if I was interested in submitting a piece for their upcoming emerging writers from Colorado anthology. I decided that this was going to be the last piece I would submit this piece to before completely rewriting it. I had submitted my essay in early May and forgot about it for about a month.

In the middle of June, I thought I didn’t get it because I hadn’t heard from them. But, by the end of the month, I got an email congratulating me on having my essay being accepted for publication. I’m still on cloud nine and can’t believe this is happening. This is only the beginning!

If you want to read my entire essay, “Finding My Voice,” you can purchase Colorado’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction on Amazon or Z Publishing.

#HowDemiHasHelpedMe

Yesterday, it was reported Demi Lovato was rushed to the hospital because of an overdose. Some were reporting it was a heroin overdose. No matter what it was, hearing this news broke my heart. I’ve been a fan of Demi’s for over a decade and her music has really helped in times where I didn’t have strength. Through her songs, I found a place where I could be vulnerable and acknowledge some of my problems I was facing at the time. She gave strength when I needed it. She was a friend when it felt like I didn’t have anyone else. Demi really helped me through some difficult times.

Last month, Demi released a song called Sober. The chorus and the last few lines left me in tears. 

Momma, I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore
And daddy, please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor
To the ones who never left me
We’ve been down this road before
I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore

I’m sorry that I’m here again
I promise I’ll get help
It wasn’t my intention
I’m sorry to myself

I remember where I was when I first heard this song. I was driving south, the Rocky Mountains to my right. It was a hot summer day in June and the blue sky was almost a teal color with tiny clouds scattered above me. It was a moment where I didn’t feel as though I was focused on what was ahead. I was too busy playing the song on repeat, trying to remember the moment, thinking I would one day write about it. I don’t know why I thought this. And I never thought I’d be sharing this story now.

No one knows what someone else is going through. No one knows just how deep people’s demons can drag them. No one knows what’s going on internally. It’s scary to work through your problems. It’s difficult to ask for help. Sometimes it takes going to the bottom, where you think no one can see you in order to want to begin working your way back to the light. Inner demons can do a lot of harm. Reach out to the people you love and make sure they’re okay. If you see someone struggling, ask if they’re okay or go and find someone that can help. Look out for one another.

Demi’s family released a statement saying how thankful they are for all the love and support Demi has been getting. Life is a long road that can end sooner than you think. Fortunately, Demi is still alive. My heart goes out to her and anyone who is struggling with addiction.

You’re not alone.

 

Suicide: 1-800-273-TALK

Self Harm: 1-800-366-8288

Addiction: 1-800-662-4357

Eating Disorders: 1-800-931-2237

Domestic Violence: 1-800-799-SAFE

Grief: 1-800-395-5755