Up until a few years ago, my life was mostly lived “in the real world.” The internet was a useful tool, but it wasn’t so much a means of with others. My human contacts happened mostly in person, and I wasn’t very good about maintaining connections with people I no longer saw in person for whatever reason.
Things started to change four years ago. I had quit my job because it was negatively impacting my mental health, but I ended up having a relapse of my depression anyway. By early 2017, I had cut all but one friend out of my life, and I’d stopped talking to my family. Dealing with people was just too hard, and everyone felt like they were in a whole different world from me, so I just didn’t feel like I could relate.
I started blogging in fall 2017, and that was the first time I ever started to have a sense of community online. I had mostly stayed away from social media prior to that, aside from a brief Farmville-focused stint on Facebook a few years prior to that.
As time has gone on, the amount I was able to work gradually tapered off, and it’s now been a year that I haven’t worked at all, so that’s had a huge impact on my life outside of home. I have one in-person friend who I rarely see, but talk to or text daily. I have limited contact with my parents, and see my brother and baby niece occasionally. I used to go to dance classes regularly, but stopped a couple of years ago because I was finding it too hard to tolerate being around people.
For the last year, my movement has been really slowed down, which further reduced my ability to get out of the house. Then, of course, there’s been COVID. Then there was worsening of the depression-related psychomotor slowing, which meant speech impairment. That made interacting in person especially difficult, draining, and unpleasant.
Now, the vast majority of my life is spent online. I’ve got the guinea pigs, basic tasks of being an adult, and contact with my brother and friend, but aside from that, I’m on my laptop. It works well for me and the limitations of my illness, but overall, it’s been a major shift in how I live my day-to-day life.
That old life has started to feel really, really distant. I don’t miss it, exactly, because I have no interest in that life now, but it’s a contrast. My life now, which is mostly online, is influenced heavily by what’s workable within the confines of ongoing symptoms of illness.
I wouldn’t have guessed when I started this blog that blogging and other writing and everything that has gone along with that would become such a big part of my life. Five years ago, I would never have guessed that a shift like this would happen. I’m very grateful to have this online oasis as a safe place where I can function at my best given the functional deficits that I have to live with.
What does your balance between in-person and online life look like?