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Television and Depression

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Is watching more television a symptom of depression?

Does television help depression?

If I don’t consider television good or bad, how can it inform me about my mental health?

I watch more television when I’m emotionally and physically exhausted. It seems to calm me down, let my brain rest. I even get excited about watching some programs which is more than I can say about my life right now.  This week I’m looking forward to the season finale of Elementary. I just watched the end of Survivor –fans vs. favorites where MY FAVORITE  – Cochran won!  I also like David Letterman, Craig Ferguson and The Closer. Why these shows?  Letterman and Ferguson are so clearly people with mental health issues. It delights me to see them swing in mood and hold down major television positions.  Cochran admitted he has an anxiety disorder whereas it was clear many of the other Survivors were a little out there but they would never admit it. Sherlock is trying so hard to resist recovery that every piece of it seems precious. The Closer is addicted to chocolate.  So I’ve decided that all TV isn’t bad. In a way, it’s a window to recovery when  I can’t talk to people anymore.  I  prefer shows in which the lead characters have an unhappy love life.  I don’t think that’s much to ask.

Nerds are us!

Nerds are us!

I once had a roommate who when asked about her day would reply with details from the lives of all the characters she had watched on TV that day. I caught myself doing that yesterday. That’s too much. That’s why I’m writing today. That, and there is nothing on TV I can stand watching.  Too much TV is like too much chocolate. I feel bad the next day because I lost time I could have been writing or reading. Then again, given the nature of depression I really can’t do those things so I’m just berating myself.  I  confess  that I’m feeling guilty about my TV excess when I only get two channels. No cable, no PBS, no Netflix, or Amazon Prime although I do stream Doctor Who and The BBC’s Sherlock.  If I had more access I might watch more only because I would feel bad about paying for something I didn’t use. I’m just too damn snobby to watch most shows.

 When I’m really irritated I can’t watch TV at all. I notice that I can’t watch commercials, except for the one with the very handsome man stocking the shelves with fruit juice. I can watch him forever. He is an antidepressant.

I can barely watch the tribal council on Survivor. I feel awful when people get tricked on sit-coms but that doesn’t happen much anymore because there aren’t many sitcoms. I  watch Big Bang Theory once in a great while. How much can one watch a show like that without becoming dumbed out by the predictability of it? That’s so sad because the people are supposed to be smart but the show set ups are just as silly as any old sitcom. Even The Family Guy doesn’t shock me. It bores me. Anyone can talk dirty, I should know.   I don’t like any kind of mutilation of people or torture but I guess some people do, or believe because unspeakable evil happens in real life, it’s okay to watch and learn from it on television

I’m usually quite an active person but I’ve become what most people would describe as a nervous wreck.  I get wound up and can’t unwind so I talk fast,  can’t find my keys,  have to dump out my purse in parking lots,  can’t be around anyone without picking them apart. I decided to take a vacation this weekend, in my room. The general public might call this “taking it easy.” It’s not something I’m very familiar with.

  I read some essays, watched two episodes of Doctor Who, then the above mentioned television shows. I ate some trail mix, well, all the trail mix.  I napped and I didn’t exercise which is probably why I’m writing now, not because I can’t sleep, which I can’t but because I need to redeem myself.

I’m afraid of falling off the abyss of age, sloth, loneliness. I know I need to give my brain a rest but I fear it’s the start of a spiral.  I flatter myself. What kind of spiral am I imagining? I keep reminding myself that I’m the same age as The President of The United States. It’s going to be pretty much all downhill for him from now on unless they invent something like King of The World or The Universe.  I can only go up. Right now I have a respectable job and make a good enough living but I’m thinking I might need to be more adventurous in my work life.  I’m not sure what that is.  I’m probably not going to find it on television though.

I found my depression echoed on many blogs I read today.  There are many hopeful writers out there, many with more time and bravery than I.  There are also many who are keeping us informed of way too many things I care nothing about. I have never and hope to never read a Mommy blog. I have read a few Baking blogs but refuse to succumb to the beautiful photos and the cheesecloth.  My kitchen is a no cheesecloth zone.  I want adventure, not cheesecloth.

  I would like to time travel and am looking forward to the new movie about the gal who goes to a Jane Austen convention, like a Star Trek convention but backwards.   I will be going to Paris and pretending that I’m there in another time period.  Not like I’m going to pretend to get the plague or get rounded up by Nazi’s but rather to feel the humanity of millions of souls who lived and dreamed there.

 Perhaps that’s why I still watch television. Other people are watching it at the same time, probably not many because I’m in Alaska, but a few.  I can’t make people read my blog but I can tune into the same channel they’re on and be with them in a sense.  How very sad but comforting.

I read some humor blogs today but nothing made me laugh. There was a smell of snark around most of it.   You don’t even want to look at The GQ mother’s day cards. Trust me on this one.  It was a grey day. Another day on top of the dirt as they say, and I chose to watch television.   The idea was not to do anything. I accomplished that. We’ll see if I can live with it.  I’ve already wasted one day and I will regret it unless I can find some benefit in it.  That’s the tricky thing with depression. There’s no energy to cook or clean, bike or run but plenty of anxiety about not doing it.  So I did not run, bike or swim but I did sign up for a triathlon. That means my anxiety will kick in and get me out the door. Look what anxiety did for Cochran!


About polarflares

My head is so big because it has so many holes and air gets in.

2 responses »

  1. Does television help depression? thrive or diminish?

    • Both. It can soothe depression just like when we are sick it’s fun to turn it on while we rest but really the resting is what is helping. It can also hurt if we focus on the wrong things such as why does everyone else have such a good life. That’s why I like to watch unhappy people on TV!


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