It wasn’t long after my diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, also known as Borderline Personality Disorder, this year that I stopped watching soaps.
Before that I had been the biggest fan. On some nights I have been known to watch Home & Away, Neighbours, Hollyoaks, Coronation Street and Eastenders and when I woke early at the weekends, I would watch the catch-up on ITV2 whether I had seen them or not.
I loved following characters, storylines and having something else to worry about other than myself. I thought that if I invested my thinking and time into other people’s lives, fake ones, I would feel better about my own life and situation. For a while I found this worked, but ultimately I became obsessed and addicted to the episodes and needing to watch them above all else. If someone was a secret murderer, being abused, physically or in any other form, were been cheated on or bullied, I’d find myself laying awake at night worrying about them as if they were real people.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think soaps are great, but for me with my condition, I realised they had caused me further distress. There was no end, I could never switch off.
So when I changed to reading or, on occasions, watching drama boxsets I could see noticeable changes.
I have found a much more balanced perspective in my own mind since making this choice, and I have been less anxious about made-up scenarios that have no impact on my life. I find that if I begin something and I don’t enjoy it, I can stop watching, it’s easy.
I’ve been asked a thousand times if I watched Love Island, and I didn’t. I have never seen a single episode. Once again, it’s through no self-righteous thought process or lack of interest. I’m so nosey, I would love to watch it, especially when it feels like the whole nation is watching it I have the greatest FOMO, but I struggle with imaginary storylines.
I can’t imagine the torture I would go through each night playing out what could happen the following day to real people. The problem is, I can think of a thousand outcomes for each scenario and can continue overplaying those and what follows over and over again. To commit myself to several weeks of compulsion, anxiety and obsession would only have a negative impact on me, my family and my lifestyle.
So I choose books. My favourite currently is Mark Billingham, a crime thriller writer and I love reading about Thorne and the crime he will next crack. There’s some continuation between stories that I can follow, but I’m not left putting the book down in anxiety, just excitement to get the next book and start a new story.