I was thinking today about addictions, specifically the addictions that we have that we had no say in. I’ve been addicted to booze, cigarettes, and other drugs, but I’m also addicted to the chemicals in my brain. I think McKenna said that the brain is the biggest pharmacy in the world.
There is a line of thought online, specifically when it comes to anxiety and depression, that these are completely out of your control, and suggesting that you do have some kind of control over them is tantamount to victim blaming. So writing posts like this is always fun, because on the internet, everyone takes what you say in the least charitable way possible, all in the hopes of being able to dunk on you on social media and, yes, score some of that sweet, sweet dopamine.
When an addiction is bad enough, it doesn’t feel like a choice at all. I still vape, and when I’ve been without nicotine for a few hours, it is an overwhelming physical sensation that I cannot overcome. At least not now. It’s a fight, and I have to be in the mood to fight it. I haven’t been in the mood to fight it for quite some time.
Similarly, we are so addicted to depression and anxiety that it feels like we’re under the control of some demon. But it’s been helping me to conceive of all of this as an addiction, because whether or not, that’s what it is. When you have OCD, your dopamine (or is it serotonin?) receptors are misfiring, and you’re desperate to get some of that juice. So your body invents elaborate fear-based lies that “force” you into ritualizing them. At the end of the ritual, you get a little hit. But that’s where the bad thoughts come from. It’s insidious, and if you think about it too much it will make you mad: your brain is literally making you miserable so that it can get a hit.
The answer to all of this, and everyone hates this, is of course to starve the beast. To not let it have any power over you. Stoicism. Spartanism. Whatever you want to call it, you’re supposed to thug it out and push through. Easier said than done.
I believe truly that this is impossible to do with social media turned on. Social media doesn’t make you depressed or anxious because of all the bad news, it makes you depressed because it sets the neurochemical hamster wheel spinning. When you wake up and get your first little hits first thing in the morning, that is akin to hitting the vape. You’re in. Your day has started. You’re not quitting today!
So tomorrow, I will simply not pick up my phone. Not for any of the good stuff I know is on there, not for texts, and not for calls. For as long as I can hold out, I’m not going to start that cycle. And maybe, through doing that, I can avoid the OCD cycle as well. As long as the trigger isn’t tripped, maybe we can get through a day without living in a hell of our own making.
I have to take back control of my brain.