Saturday, 6 February 2010

On Not Tweeting

I tried to go back to twitter last night. Tried to tweet to let everyone know I was OK, to thank them for their support, to say I’d be back soon. But I couldn’t. Simply couldn’t. My fingers just refused to type, like there’s some sort of block.

It all started with an incident on Wednesday night, where I read a tweet about me that was sent as an @reply rather than a DM by mistake. I won’t quote the tweet for you here, but let’s just say that it wasn’t flattering.

I @replied the lady concerned (I couldn’t send her a DM since she’d unfollowed me), saying that I was sorry she didn’t like my tweets, and goodbye, and the whole thing should really have ended there, except that it didn’t.

First of all, this lady was not just a “random tweep”. I’m also friends with her on facebook, I subscribe to her blipfoto journal, and I thought we were friends. Second, I suddenly became worried – were lots of other people sending unflattering DMs about me and this lady was simply unlucky in that she accidentally sent the message publicly and I just happened to be logged on and looking at the screen as it arrived?

My logical brain knows I’m extrapolating unfairly here, but at the time I felt very threatened. This was partly because I am struggling to overcome a fairly major depressive episode at the moment, trying to get settled onto suitable medication, trying to sort my life out, and trying to get back to work where my colleagues are currently having to cover for me. I’ve also been desperately worried recently about a real-life friend, who is struggling to cope with his own ill health and current circumstances, and I feel powerless to help. Furthermore, for some reason the whole thing triggered memories of being bullied at school and college, which brought back a whole lot of hurt and pain that I couldn’t handle.

The result was that within a few moments of reading that tweet I was sitting at my desk in floods of tears. I sent three tweets of frustration, and then logged straight off and closed down the computer very soon afterwards.

A tearful restless night was followed by one of the blackest days I have experienced in recent times. I posted a blipfoto and bared my soul even more than I usually do. I sent several bitter and horribly unfair e-mails to my real-life friend, only adding to his pressures, for which I am sorry. I remembered crying on the steps of a mobile classroom when I was 4, being thumped on my first day at a new school when I was 5, having my hat and scarf pulled off me and thrown in a puddle when I was 11, being held down at age 14 by a gang of girls at school who rubbed muddy paper towels all over my face and then took my bag with its precious books in and ran off to play football with it on the school field. Even into the sixth form and at college people whispered about me, and laughed at me because I preferred to go to the library rather than the college bar.

Of course, this was all a long time ago. I’m grown up now and I’ve largely got over most of it. I look back at my young self and realise that maybe, as a teenager in a northern comprehensive school, I should have learnt to act better. I should have pretended that my favourite music was Duran Duran and not Schubert.

However, that’s not me. I’m an open person who wears my heart on my sleeve. It’s just the way I’m made. My Dad is the same – he has eye problems and carries pictures of retinal scans around in his wallet – he’ll show them to anyone who’ll listen: in the pub, on the street. I’ve inherited his candour, and, some would say, we also share a certain naivety and general belief in the goodness of people.

So these were some of the things racing round my head on Thursday. To add to the general grimness of the day, we had run out of heating oil so had no heat or hot water. I spent much of the day hiding under a blanket on the sofa, getting what warmth I could from a small fan heater.

Sometime in the afternoon, 3 things happened. The first was that I decided I would blip. The link to that blip is on my twitterstream and facebook page if you haven’t already seen it. I’m not quite up to sorting links on here at the moment. The main reason I blipped was that I have “completion” issues. I knew I’d regret it terribly if I didn’t. The Wonderspouse had given me a programme for his Year Zero Writers gig and I browsed through it and found the quote by Daisy Anne Gree, which I blipped. It struck such a chord with me.

The second was that the man arrived with the oil delivery. Once I’d signed for it, looked at the bill and wondered where I was going to find that kind of money, I set about the task of getting the air bubbles from the system so we could get hot water and heat again. The practical work was actually a bit good for me.

The third was that I decided I must go to the Wonderspouse’s gig. This was his big “do”. He’d been planning it and working on it for months. He’s unswervingly devoted to me in every way he possibly can be. To let him down would be unthinkable. I had to go. So I put a coat and hat over my filthy slobby clothes, got in the car (I didn’t even turn the TV off, we discovered when we got home that night) and went.

I lasted most of the evening fairly well, although cracked at the end. Fortunately Daisy, the writer of the quote on my blip, was there, knew exactly how I was feeling, and looked after me splendidly. Thank you Daisy.

And so the climb back out of the dark hole had begun.

Most of yesterday was spent asleep. I did log on to facebook a couple of times and started on the mountain of messages that are there for me. I logged in to twitter and read the many supportive DMs and @replies I’ve received. I also e-mailed my real-life friend a bit more and tried to understand his difficulties rather than my own. I hope he’s forgiven me for the terrible behaviour over the last few days.

So what now?

I am tentatively making my way back onto the internet. I’m managing to go onto facebook from time to time. I’m still blipping. I’m still checking my e-mails. I need to update the “Ears” blog, which is a few days behind.

The lady who sent me the tweet that started all this has not unfriended me on facebook, as she said in her tweet that she would. She has sent me a long and apologetic message, to which I will reply as soon as I am able. It has been suggested that I unfollow her, block her, defriend her, etc. but that is not my way. Maybe she has good reason for saying what she did. Who knows. The Wondserspouse alerted me to the fact that she had changed her twitter avatar to a road sign – she knows I like road signs after a comment I made on blipfoto. She sent me a jolly picture of a road sign on facebook – I wasn’t up to coping with messages at the time and have not yet thanked her for that. I shall, but all this will take a little time.

A second lady, the lady to whom she sent the @reply, has been caught in the crossfire. I’m sorry about that. I have not unfollowed or defriended anybody as a result of all this. I have never blocked any real person on twitter, only bots with unseemly images.

And I shall return to tweeting as soon as I am able. I think one of the things that shocked me most was that I’ve always found the twitterverse to be a place full of fun, support and loveliness. Maybe I’ve been lucky. I’ve always regarded it as somewhere “safe” in the same way that my home is (last August I received some difficult work mail at home on a Saturday morning and the shock of having to deal with something for which I was unprepared led to a day of tears and torment). Perhaps I should be a little more guarded, but being so uses up so much energy that I then don’t have enough left to function or enjoy life.

My reasons for being on twitter are very simple – just to make friends and talk to people who share my interests. I am not famous, or especially interesting. I have nothing to sell or promote. I simply enjoy the opportunities to meet others who like music, maths, animals, books, cups of tea, the arts, science, and all the other interesting things that people do. I try to steer clear of religion and politics where I can, and I don’t swear on the internet (I do in real life, although not especially much, but I’m not the slightest bit offended by it) since I know there are people who don’t like it. I really just like the friendship that twitter offers.

I am deeply grateful for all the supportive messages that I’ve received. Thank you. I shall reply to you all in time. In general, I’ve found everyone I’ve met on twitter to be absolutely lovely. I’ve also started to meet people from twitter in real life and, without exception, they’ve all been fantastic. I’ve been stunned by the generosity of one person in particular, who I now count among my firm friends, and I’ve also got back into the music world through twitter and am looking forward to future playing opportunities that have arisen.

The Wonderspouse said to me when I started twitter that if he thought it was bad for me then he’d ban me from doing it. The fact that he hasn’t done so over the last few days shows that he recognizes the positive effects it has had on my life.

I never thought I’d ever write a blog post called “On Not Tweeting”. Extraordinary!

I’ll be back when I can. It’ll just take a day or so.


  1. Sorry Ann, for all the pain and sadness you've been experienced over the past few days. You might not want to know this - and I hope this doesn't make things worse - but I have tears in my eyes from reading this post. i know you only from twitter and then facebook and blip, but you've always had such positive things to say, you've made me laugh, and you've always been supportive if I've had a down day. I really hope that things contnue to improve for you, and I for one appreciate your company in the Twitterverse, and when you are ready look forward to seeing you there again. Hugs always. Suzy x

  2. This is a raw, candid post and I admire your honesty.

    As you know, we are new-ish Twitter friends and believe me when I say I think you are a lovely, lovely person and felt very lucky when you followed me!

    I enjoy our little chats, as well as seeing your photos. You've inspired me to get a camera and just walk and open my eyes to the beauty inherent in all things.

    I do not suffer from depression, but understand that black days can lay people low, no matter how much the struggle against it.

    It's odd that you mention being bullied in school. Odd because my short story this week was one about a middle school bully who picked a fight with a new student. This led to interesting comments about what constitutes bullying.

    Anyway, I hope that it gets better and better soon.

    I'm new to FaceBook, don't really know if I love it yet, but hope that I can find you there.

    See you soon. :)

  3. I'm so sorry to hear whats happened on Twitter. I had wondered where you'd gone but thought that maybe you were just taking a few days out to catch your breath so to speak.

    You are one of the few people I tweet with I know understands what an uphill struggle life is some days. Some how you knowing that always makes me go that one extra step.

    I count you as a firm friend, I believe I said to you once I'd not let you drown and I wont. I'll always fling a life raft your way.

    *many hugs* ~ Nova xx

  4. Ann, I did not even finish reading your blog before I decided to respond.
    In all the time we've been on twitter you've NEVER once said a thing that was not kind, positive and a joy to read. I'm not as good a tweeter to all of you as I should be, but please believe this: you and the elevensestime group are among the best I've come across, and please do not go away. Your soul shines, You are loved.

  5. I was bullied massively in school and know exactly what a seemingly bottomless pit of misery and self doubt a reminder of that can open up. And I don't even suffer from mental illness.

    How lovely for you that you have a Wonderspouse and good that you made it to his gig. I'm sure that the way you're dealing with it all will help you in your recovery. You're brave and a Good Person. I like Good Persons!

  6. This other person is the one with the problem. She should be the one feeling awful and not tweeting, not you. You're missed on Twitter and you're right that people on Twitter are fun and friends and I'm looking forward to seeing you back.

  7. Dearest Ann,

    I had no idea you had ever been bullied. It would never have struck me as possible that someone who I recognised as a kindred spirit the moment I met her would not be adored and valued by everyone else. When I perfect my time machine, I will SORT THEM OUT for you, all of them. How very dared they.

    In the meantime, there is always choc B&B P available at my house for you <3 Or virtually, at the end of a phone/email if that is useful to you