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Symptoms => General Discussion => Topic started by: BigGreenSee123 on October 18, 2015, 06:35:45 PM

Title: Numbing with TV
Post by: BigGreenSee123 on October 18, 2015, 06:35:45 PM
I guess I have been fortunate in that I've never been entirely hooked by the effects of drugs/alcohol. Though I've had my moments with these, they've never stuck as a go-to means of coping. But I am definitely not without my vices.

Honestly, I think one of my biggest means of escaping the world and disconnecting from myself is to watch a lot of TV. I like that it distracts me. I like that it makes a quiet room/apartment not so quiet. I like that it provides me with pseudo-social comfort. But I have caught myself in the reflection of the screen once or twice before and I can really look like I'm in some semi-conscious, drug-induced state. I don't think it's healthy for me but it's so hard to give up.

I also know I'm ashamed of it. I remember, as a teenager, my step father coming to my room telling me (with a tone of judgment) that I should be outside instead of inside watching TV. Of course, no one could see that my watching TV for hours on end in my room was a sign of increasing depression. But, because of this, it's hard to know just how much of my opinion about TV being unhealthy is warranted, and how much is just a product of me being ashamed that I can get lazy at all.

Anyone else rely on TV as a means of numbing out?
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: Dutch Uncle on October 18, 2015, 07:15:15 PM
I guess I have many addictions/routines/ceremonies to 'numb out'. Alcohol seems to be the only one which has survived in the end, up to the point I became an alcoholic. And while alcohol is still the main 'pitfall', alcoholism as such has passed.

TV is the one of the first habits/addictions I have kicked out when I started living on my own, after the TV that was given to me broke down. I have not owned a TV-set for 25 years now, to the ridicule of many around me. "Where is your TV?", is a common subject of conversation when I have 'new guests' over at my place.
I even used to get state-officials knocking on my door, threatening with a search-warrant if I would not let them in, since I didn't pay any TV-license-tax and they were sure to bust another 'offender'.
True story.  ;D
You're a suspect if you don't watch TV. I guess I'm a "registered offender" nowadays, LOL. I haven't seen them in ages.
So, among my many vices, not watching TV is one of them, apparently.

A wise mentor of me once said: "The sum of all vices [of a person] remains constant." (He was a Dane, so no verbatim quote can be given, we had the conversation in German.) Which I took to mean: Choose your vices wisely. Everybody is stuck with a certain amount, anyway. Whatever they may be.
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: tired on October 18, 2015, 07:22:21 PM
yes nonstop. i listen to it while i do other things so it's not really a waste of time.  i watch/listen to the same shows over and over and over. 

when it stops working (I rotate through a few shows ) and i haven't found a new show, i eat a lot. 

the bad things they say about tv have to do with commercials, unwanted stuff thrown at you, and being sedentary. nowadays you don't have to watch anything you don't absolutely choose to watch and you can take your tv with you, on a netflix or amazon app or even  youtube which i'm watching now. every single episode of monk is on there.  over and over and over again. i've had it on for the past 8 hours and all i've done is clean the house and let me tell you, i got a lot done.
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: woodsgnome on October 18, 2015, 10:14:50 PM
Just me. But in 1987 I realized that I'd watched loads of TV, and did I want to spend the rest of my life using it like a flickering altar sending me all sorts of unidentified flying propaganda?. The rapid-screen flits drove me nuts, and for that and lots of other reasons I threw it out; never got another.

As a classic cptsd Freeze type, per Walker's description, I have a huge tendency to zone out; I just don't do it with a TV ("Tell-a-Vision") around--I'll use reading, music, etc., for instance. Unlike many, I crave silence, and have a nice CD/tape player and musical instruments for sound ambiance. 

I'm alright with TV, just never been tempted to have one again;  accept it as part of whatever "me" is about. Which just doesn't include TV, which shocks people (poor them); they can't figure out how I survive :bigwink:.

TV's around, as is this device I'm typing a message onto. They have their uses. The big danger with any electronic medium is the amount of unsolicited info that floats into the mind's cobwebs. I mean, even if you're not paying attention to ads, the messages are omnipresent--you need this, have to have that, will never be a good person without it. Perhaps it's obvious, but with cptsd already in place, that puts a double whammy on the mind's filters.

I do use radio, but when the commercial stuff hits, instead of zoning out, I tend to listen and think, "what if that speaker were ranting or singing that stupid jingle at my kitchen table?". Talk about "normal"! They are good for laughs, I have to admit; but how can anyone just sit there and let them go by? That's one instance where I'm thankful for my cptsd-induced hypervigilance.

That said, TV did help me survive the abusers of my foo and school. How so? I loved Laurel and Hardy films, only available then via TV. I loved how the poker-faced, supposedly dimwitted but subtly smart Laurel outwitted the huffy-puffy loudmouthed Hardy every time...I just made myself into Stan Laurel and it made life easier to discover I had a funny route past at least a little of the pain. I probably would never experienced that without a TV--but that was then, this is now, you know the rest.
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: BigGreenSee123 on October 18, 2015, 10:33:00 PM
I no longer have cable which I am happy about. But I do have a computer and access to a Netflix account. Many times I've gone on breaks from watching any television shows - it does me some good, I think, but I find it incredibly challenging. It's the quiet. I feel like I can fool myself into thinking I am not alone when the TV is going. But the second it cuts out and I'm back to that quiet - I don't like that.  :sadno:

I don't think, inherently, TV is a bad thing. I just don't like how much I watch it and the reasons I watch it. I think nearly anything can become a bit unhealthy if it's consistently used to escape facing oneself. I think that's what I do.

Plus, I don't want to spend my life numbed out in front of the TV. I want more than hours in my little TV coma on the couch. I find it very challenging, though. I don't know who I am, I don't know what I want from my life, and anything that can keep me from feeling anxiety is so appealing. So, when I do step away I just feel an unnerving dis-ease and loss for what else to do.

That said, I think it's time for me to step away from the media once more. Maybe this time for good...?
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: tired on October 18, 2015, 11:03:05 PM
for me it's the sound.  i like the soothing sounds of people talking.  i pick shows that have good characters and good dialogue and i feel like a kid falling asleep on the couch while grownups are finishing dinner and talking. i like the familiarity of a character in a show that has a long run.  i don't like to watch the shows or follow the plot and frankly i can watch a monk episode many times and still not remember what happens at the end.
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: I like vanilla on October 19, 2015, 03:17:18 AM
I often have TV shows on for background noise (and a 'social' feeling), and to help keep track of time, especially when I have been disassociating a lot.

For me, the numbing out comes from puzzle games on the computer (it used to be puzzle games in puzzle books/magazines) and Facebook - I have stopped both for more than 200 days now (like a recovering addict - which I suppose I am - I kept track of each day at the beginning, now a little less so). I do, however, try to be careful that forums like this one do not become the new substitute. This forum is helpful but also has the potential to keep me on the computer for too long - I always leave the 60 min. timeout active and only sign back on if I get logged out in the middle of a post, immediate logging off once I finish that particular post.
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: tired on October 19, 2015, 09:56:20 AM
I don't have much faith that I can't totally do without any numbing device. I don't know if that's a good thing or even true but lately I don't fight it and I just pick the least toxic addiction. 

I used to have higher hopes for recovery and I believed in absolute freedom but lately I'm discouraged.  I wonder what everyone thinks. Should we keep a bad habit or two as a crutch and just pick benign things that aren't as bad as drugs and alcohol. Or should we aim high and beat this and choose to stay present as much as possible.
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: tired on October 19, 2015, 09:58:17 AM
I'm really not sure about this .  It's not just that I'm depressed I just want to treat this problem realistically.
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: BigGreenSee123 on October 19, 2015, 01:47:45 PM
Should we keep a bad habit or two as a crutch and just pick benign things that aren't as bad as drugs and alcohol. Or should we aim high and beat this and choose to stay present as much as possible.

I think that's a really good question, tired. I was thinking more about cutting out TV and wondering if it's really realistic and/or helpful for me to just give it all up. If the quote Dutch Uncle brought up is true we will always have vices... so maybe some television isn't so bad.

I wonder if there's a middle road I'm not thinking about. Cut back on our vices for the sake of growth but don't cut them out entirely. Basically, moderation. I am terrible with this, though. It's almost easier for me to just go without entirely.
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: Dutch Uncle on October 19, 2015, 02:35:20 PM
Regarding the validity of what I quoted: I think it's safe to say nobody is without vices. We are all human, we all have 'flaws' or peculiarities…
Which is not to say we are stuck in a mode where we cannot cut back, moderate or as has been said: choose less harmful 'vices'.

No vices would mean we need to be perfect. And I know my perfectionism is more often than not a negative influence on my behavior and functionality.
Is perfectionism not one of the 'mortal sins'? It certainly is a 'vice' I could do without. I would be a more pleasant person for myself, and for others. (Though I'm way more 'forgiving' to others if they're not perfect. It's my own perfectionism that makes me uptight in company. I think.  ;D )
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: woodsgnome on October 19, 2015, 02:40:02 PM
The key to deciding the with/without question re TV and other habits might be...how do they feel in relation to one's progress or lack of same regarding their cptsd symptoms? What  level feels comfortable? I have a huge outer critic radar and even voices on a TV/radio device, let alone with pictures, can trigger me. I didn't consciously decide to ditch TV because of that, but noticed I felt better without it.

But for some that may not matter so much, which is great. This isn't limited to cptsd, anyway--it's often just one of those everybody-does-it-this-way/want-to-be-normal lifestyle choices. It's funny, though; I've felt stigmatized by some for not having a set--some even think I'm kidding. Like, uh-oh, strange bird, wonder where he went off the rails. It's crap to have to feel defensive about a simple preference. Weird, eh?

Even without the cptsd/symptom avoidance issue, though, I think I'd probably choose not to have one even if I was "normal" :bigwink:. For me, it's just an appliance that doesn't fit how I live. I don't have a toaster, either. 
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: tired on October 19, 2015, 06:41:11 PM
Coping mechanisms keep us alive but also prevent growth sometimes.  Avoidance is a coping mechanism that keeps me from jumping out a window but also prevents me from achieving a permanent fix.  I would ditch the crutches if I had a safety net. 

Maybe I watch tv because I want to be triggered.  I didn't think of it until now but if I'm triggered I might actually make some progress.  Dunno. 
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: Dutch Uncle on October 19, 2015, 07:13:05 PM
I didn't consciously decide to ditch TV because of that […]
Neither did I.  ;D
If my TV set hadn't broke down, I wouldn't have tossed it out. (presumably)
When it did however, I did have to make a choice.
Since I was low on money.
If I would have had a fortune at my disposal at the time, I might have 'mindlessly' bought a new set, regardless.

The difference "chance" makes in a lifetime, no?
Title: Re: Numbing with TV
Post by: coda on October 19, 2015, 07:40:26 PM
For me, it's company and comfort, almost like a fireplace going in the background. Not so different  than vegging out in front of a computer, but more familiar. Daytime it's usually an all news channel, maybe the old movie station. It definitely makes me feel less alone, and more engaged with the world. I really don't like "entertainment" until after dark, maybe because of old associations. I  used to leave the radio on all the time, now it's TV. And with PBS, streaming movies, and smart, dense shows that rival film, TV is not the wasteland it once was.

I used to be self-conscious about it for the same reasons- and also because admitting it seemed like admitting I didn't have much of a life. But you know what? I need it now, it helps me, and it doesn't hurt me. It keeps the jitters at bay (especially when I can't sleep or my mind is racing), and I even learn things and occasionally get inspired. I know that whenever I feel stronger, calmer and more engaged I don't need, or even want, it on.