Chapter 5: Part II: www.keepoffthe web.com

Search for “depression” online and it can be reassuring to find so many other people with similar tales. It helps you to realize that you are not alone. You become aware of how common an issue it is and of how successfully it can be treated. But… there are also stories of people with depression who discovered that it was only the tip of the iceberg. It was an early sign of Parkinson’s Disease or a brain tumor. Or it was never cured and resulted in the “unmentionable” … suicide (yep… said it!). The depressed person’s brain often magnifies the negative and ignores the positive. I found that the undesirable stories stuck like glue in my mind, while the positive stories just drifted away down stream. The question is, how to access reassuring, factual information without dragging yourself further down as you fixate on the negative? Not that all of the negative should be ignored at the risk of not getting an accurate picture. My initial advice here is trust the professionals. Leave it to the doctors to analyze your symptoms. However, if you find this hard to do, then don’t worry, for I have a solution… the ‘Interweb Buddy’.

“During my depression, I had a friend who went above and beyond to help me get through.”

During my depression, I had a friend who went above and beyond to help me get through. She kept me company when I couldn’t get myself out of the house and my wife couldn’t be there. She made so many cups of chamomile tea for me (it’s calming, O.K.!) that she nearly wore out our kettle. She answered despondent texts in the middle of the night and constantly checked on me to make sure that I hadn’t switched from ‘passive’ to ‘active’. How does this relate to our Internet issue? The answer is that she became my human internet filter. I would give her a list of my symptoms. She would then look them up, use her somewhat balanced, rational mind to filter through all the information and give me an equally rational overview of all that I might need to know. It was perfect. I trusted her analysis of the information and she became adept at knowing how much or how little material to share with me in order to preserve my peace of mind and yet ensure that I was well-informed.

“It can pull your mood down quicker than a knee to the groin.”

So, my friends, step away from the laptop, put down your tablet, and pocket your phone. In fact, refrain from all digital surfing for the time being and hand that duty to your ‘Interweb Buddy’ – the friend or family member whose judgment you still trust.

Trust me, depression makes you fragile. Negative information can pack a hefty punch. It can pull your mood down quicker than a knee to the groin. Keep away from it. This is not the time.

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