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TV News and Depression: How I Learned To Turn It Off

I find myself increasingly outraged at what I see on the TV news channels lately. I’m not talking about the news itself, but the way it’s presented with loud graphics, dramatic music and louder newscasters.

To watch CNN, Fox News, MSNBC or any number of local news affiliates is to be rattled. And, in fact, before I learned to turn it off, I couldn’t take my eyes away. It took an already depressed, out-of-control person and made him three times worse.

I should probably laugh it off and move on. But the fact of the matter is that this stuff used to leave me a crippled mess.

When you have an out-of-control case of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), you latch onto all the things you can’t control and worry about them nonstop. Nothing feeds that devil like the cable news networks. I’ve written before about the anxiety and fear I used to have over current events. I would think about all the things going on in the world over and over again, until it left me physically ill. I personally wanted to set everything right and control the shape of events, which of course is delusional, dangerous thinking.

Right after 9-11 I realized the obsession had taken a much darker, deeper tone. This time, I had the Internet as well as the TV networks to fill me with horror. Everyone was filled with horror on 9-11, obviously, but while others were able to go about their business in a depressed haze, I froze. Two weeks after the event, I refused to get on a plane to go to a wedding in Arizona. Everyone was afraid to fly at that point, but I let my fear own me. It’s one of my big regrets.

Part of the problem was my inability to take my eyes off the news. To do so for a five-hour plane ride was unthinkable. To not know what was going on for five hours? Holy shit. If I don’t know about it, I can’t control it!

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