Social Media Anxiety

Social Media Axiety

Social media is a blessing to me. I interact with few people in real life, so my internet acquaintances give me a sense of companionship and community.

Yet, I struggle with social media anxiety. I gaze at glowing pages of insightful words.  I read and react—internally.

I long to respond, but my thoughts are like a shattered vase. The effort to restore the vase, splinter by splinter, dazzles me.  I return to an easier task, usually a visual or intellectual project.

Why do in flit in and out of the social media scene?

Part of it is diminished social need.  I don’t reach out, I draw in. I reflect, dissect and recharge.  My social interaction capacity is finite and largely consumed by my family. Excess mental energy fuels forays into Twitter, Facebook, and blogdom.

My intolerance of change also impacts my participation in social media. Small events disrupt my equilibrium, fueling anxiety. I freeze up. Liev’s trip to the emergency room left me with a few quivery, obsessive days. Larger occurrences interrupt the flow of my life—I must use all my strength to manage my responsibilities. Little remains for cheery comments or thoughtful dialogue.

Schedule changes, unexpected home maintenance, visits from relatives—despite my reaction to them, these are small changes.  A profound change impacts your thinking and outlook. Liev’s autism diagnosis was a profound change.

And now, we face another prodigious change. Like Liev’s autism diagnosis, this will transform our life in wonderful and unexpected ways.  I am not managing my online relationships well while I wrestle with new information.

Tourette's Awareness

I shall return, soon.

XO

Lori

Compulsive Pestering and My Autistic Child

boozle

This spring my son hinked my boozle.

After an episode of Curious George, he sauntered up to me and gave me a probing glance. In an instant, his hands leaped up to my bosom. “Hink! Hink!” he exclaimed as he honked my motherly bits.

I gasped in surprise. “It is not okay to hink mama.”

I lectured him on boundaries, explaining that a woman’s bosom is for feeding babies.

Our conversation devolved into an anxious personal space inquisition. My son wanted diagrams detailing a child’s age and allowable “hinking.” Our afternoon of graph making closed with chalk driveway charts. Local dog walkers lingered during their peregrinations for days.

Our afternoon of social instruction left me feeling victorious.  Appropriateness is a difficult lesson for autistic individuals, especially young autistic individuals.

A few weeks later, I chatted with Liev’s case manager, Crystalyn. She asked me, “What is a boozle?”

Perplexed, I questioned her until it became clear that “boozle” was his mispronunciation of “bosom.”

Liev had been annoying teachers with his “hinks.”  I explained the situation and told her my strategy was to ignore him and redirect him to shoulder squeezing.

Sporadic outbreaks of boozle hinking peppered the remainder of the school year.  Liev hinked most when he felt ill. I could gauge a fever by hinks per hour.

Summer vacation detonated the atom bomb of boozle hinks. My son became a tiny, diabolical Benny Hill. His twitchy, pinchy fingers bedeviled me so much I expected to hear Yackety Sax on a loop in the background.

Benny

The fact that my usual tricks failed shocked me. I asked for advice and tried new methods. Every intervention failed or only worked for a single day. I did not understand what I was missing.

Eventually, my husband and I concluded that Liev was trapped in a “hinking loop.”  Anxious about summer changes, Liev became obsessed with hinking.  Squeezing or poking me relieved an internal pressure.  Even though he had firm and consistent consequences, with enough anxiety he’d hink until his fingers dropped off.

I needed to be patient, ignore, and re-direct.  I gritted my teeth, nevertheless.

Weeks flitted by and hinking diminished as our summer schedule became routine.

Then one day, my husband took Liev out to pick flowers. Egor helped Liev fill a plastic shoebox with daisies. With abundant joy, Liev presented them to me. “Oh!” I gasped. “What lovely flowers! You are the sweetest little boy on the planet!” I extended my arms for a hug. Liev took three ecstatic hops toward me and poked my bosom. “Hink! Hink!” he said sweetly and hugged me.

My husband and I laughed aloud. A loving glow shined in Liev’s eyes. His hinks were indeed neurological hiccups, pint-size impulsive bursts of energy generated by a brain completely thrilled and overloaded by giving his Mama flowers.

Digital elements by Sherrie Drumond. Benny Hill is from “The Ultimate Benny Hill Album.”

Reflections on Socializing

I struggle knowing what to say. Trapped in a line, chatting with others is easy since it’s always about the weather or if you are having a nice day. Outside of that, I bombard people with questions to find an engaging topic. Once that mutual link is detected, I can relax and speak authentically.

This strategy flatters some, especially folks with a grand passion lurking. The positive energy of an eager speaker is delightful, and if we like the same thing, nothing else matters. Unfortunately, many are put off my intensity and give me the “Bitch, please” look. At a recent gathering, a thirty-something scooted her chair two steps away from me, as if she feared I would grab her by the shoulders and shake her, asking, “Do you like rocks? Plants? How about zombies? Everybody likes zombies!” I think she needed more wine.

Today I had coffee for the second time with Mandy, the mother on one of Liev’s classmates. We met last year while dropping off our autistic sons for preschool. While the other mothers bonded through common complaints, she stood out as a mother who accepted her son.

During our first coffee a few weeks ago, she squirmed under my intense interrogation. Shifting in her seat, she flinched at my twitchiness since nervous me is like a found footage film of an alien invasion. Today, however, I found just the right questions to ask, and we had a lovely time. Mandy is a superfan of the Twilight franchise and glows with the enthusiasm of a person who builds worlds in her head.  Although I went through my vampire phase in 1991, her sweet infatuation with the book series charmed me.

Mandy also gave me a present! Since I responded to a list of books Mandy had posted on Facebook, stating that I had never read Harry Potter, she gifted me the first book. “How could a civilized person not read Harry Potter!” She quipped.  Her sweet and thoughtful gesture touched me. She also packed up her collection of sequels for me to borrow, since she was sure I would love Potter. 

Her gift made me anxious. How on earth am I to read fantasy? Magic, prophecies, and deus ex machina bore me in a profound, existential way. I couldn’t make it through one novel of Lord of the Rings, let alone seven volumes of popular fantasy. I will try it. I might like it. Alan Rickman is in those Potter movies, right? 😍