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I'm Not Self-Centered Because I Don't Watch the News

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The news? Um, yeah, I don’t watch it much. I have an alphabet soup bowl of diagnoses. C-PTSD, borderline personality disorder and fibromyalgia just to name a few of the labels many Dr. “Diagnoseme’s” came up with.

• What is PTSD?

Throw in my INFJ personality and the HSP (highly sensitive person) with empathic sensitivities, and you have the perfect storm for depression and emotional dysregulation, which are symptoms of some of my labels called diagnoses.

Which is why I don’t watch much news.

My brain can take the details and arrange them molecularly until I can see the situations and scenes of crime and disaster as if I was actually there. I never told anyone this, but when I saw my dad’s car after the wreck that killed him and the scene of the accident, my brain literally put me in the driver seat with him at the moment of impact. I was 8 and I knew how strange that sounded, “crazy” even. That is why I have never told anyone until now.

I think because of all I have been through, because of the hypervigilance of the C-PTSD, and because of my strong sense of empathy, even the stories of strangers can make me feel such a strong wave of emotions. Often I’m at a loss about how to process those emotions, and I become overwhelmed by the amount of pain or futility or helplessness I sense in the stories of those unfortunate enough to find themselves the six o’clock news — a portrait of newsworthy distress. So watching the news affects me in many ways most people cannot imagine.

The responses I get when I tell people I don’t watch the news vary, depending on what belief system and organizational groups they operate in. I am a Christian so ultimately I get flack for that answer. I am told things like I am self-centered and have a limited world view, etc. Other people tend to be more understanding if they know what the struggle is like.

What I want people to understand is that it is not out of lack of concern for others. It is actually overwhelming concern that has made me weary of watching the news. I also have this ability to see the whole picture and not just what is presented to raise controversy and or ire. That leaves me feeling frustrated, defensive and, if not managed properly, can lead to depression.

Not watching the news can be seen as self-centered if we discount the need for self-preservation in the life of one who struggles. Since I began recovery, some days I feel strong and want to look outward into the greater world, but the consequences of mental illness and physical illness means what I can do to impact change in the world feels so limited.

In my recovery I’m finding that within any given group of people, there’s a percentage of people who don’t judge. So when someone doesn’t understand why I don’t watch the news, I am learning that that’s OK too. Some days I feel strong enough to let it be. I don’t want someone to have to go through personal experiences to understand and to gain empathy. Yet everyone has their own stories that even if not newsworthy, are memory-worthy.

Thinkstock photo via Creatas

Originally published: November 5, 2017
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