By Vanessa Gordon

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about" Benjamin Franklin

It's been a while since I have written.

Four months, two weeks and four days to be exact. I have a bounty of short stories, poems, scripts, ideas and essays stored in little compartments in my head, on post-it notes, weathered notebooks and endless notes written on faded receipts stuck to the bottom of my purse. Rhymes and prose I write on anything within arm's length. Not necessarily work worth writing about but still, I guess it's the attempt that matters. Note writing and talking to myself about how to structure the saga about Pilaka and the mango tree or the plot that thickens between Molly and her neighbor's piggery debacle (actual characters in actual stories that I am yet to complete.)

I'm constantly writing and evolving as a wannabe writer I just haven't sat at my computer and committed to writing something worth writing or producing content that you the reader would consider worth reading. Writing is a tool I have relied on to help heal and deal with depression and anxiety. It has been my go-to therapy. It's free. It is easily accessible twenty-four hours a day seven days a week which is great for insominacs but for me, the real bonus is I don't ever have to leave home.

If you have ever struggled with mental health leaving the comforts of your own home can be frightening and paralyzing. I can't really explain this fear and anxiety. The best way I can describe it is it feels like every step is in slow motion and there should be some sort of warped sound effect theme song playing in the background.

Not all days are like this.

Mundane things like the normal every day to and fro I can deal with I can go to work, be a mother and run a business.

It's all the other things that I struggle with.

It's the days that I'm invited to participate in a gathering or a party or celebration, dinner, church, or trying to maneuver in a busy shopping center the week before Christmas.

Days like these are a big code red! I can still function and will attempt to always put on a game face and participate. Truth be known I have perfected my game face I'm smiling on the outside but feel sick to my core. I'm working through the anxiety and have learned valuable tools to cope. But for now, this stay-close-to-home way of life has some benefits I can do a few of my favorite things read, write, and cook.

It also has some negatives.

One is that I have run out of excuses turning down invites and offers to go out on outings and gatherings.

All of sudden invites and suggestions to be social are now very few and far between. A part of me is a little saddened by the decrease in social invites. But a part of me is embracing this season of soul searching solitude.

I have a new RSVP standard reply "The social butterfly is quietly hidden in a purpose-built cocoon of books, post-it notes, and zucchini slice recipes and is unable to attend your event"

I don't know how to effectively communicate "I'm terribly sorry as much as I would love to come out and play unfortunately I am unable to participate due this overwhelming fear and dread that is stuck in my throat. I'm afraid I will vomit on the birthday cake should I force myself to socialize today"

There is one upside to being an unsocial member of society.

Thanks to social media I can still connect with those that matter and those that I love and those that love me back. I don't really have to go to the party because in a few hours I'll get all the party highlights via snap chat, facebook and stories will be up on Instagram and WhatsApp.

I won't miss a single thing. Well sort of.

I missed witnessing my nephew turn 21. I missed the way my god daughter's face lit up when she opened her birthday present. I miss the look on a friend's face when he walked into a room full of his nearest and dearest celebrate his 50th. I have missed milestones and pivotal moments in the lives of those that I love. I have missed out on concerts and hikes. I have missed out on rocking my one-year-old grandniece to sleep.

Social media is a great tool to keep in touch and connect.

Human connection is vital. We long and yearn for love and acceptance it’s just the way that we are wired. There is healing power in touch and the warmth of feeling like you belong to something greater and outside the confines of your cocoon.

Social media is a powerful tool.

How we use this power can either nurture or destroy relationships it can feed us daily nourishment of all things positive or it can feed us with angst. I recently had a social media cleanse. Like many others with a side hustle, my businesses rely on social media for advertising and engaging with potential customers.

My writing and short films rely on social media as a platform to share my work. I once lived a content life of sharing my work, making a daily effort to spread some joy and used my social media superpower for good so I shared positive quotes and cat videos.

The problem was that while I was putting out all the good stuff I was taking in all the bad stuff. I was reading terrible stories of rape, murder, poverty, wars, a new kind of racism, children detained in refugee camps, women being tortured and good people losing their battle with mental illness.

I was reading posts of friends and mutual friends shaming other friends and mutual friends. I was losing hope in humanity. I was losing faith in others.

All of sudden being unsocial in real life wasn't enough I had to be unsocial online it was a nessity for my own mental health and wellbeing.

I basically ran for the hills.

Switch off and took a sabbatical.

I value the relationships in my life however I was recently at a crossroad questioning the relationships in my life. I questioned the authenticity of friendships. Sharing a post or liking a photo should not be the main criteria or constitutes as having a relationship. Surely one hundred likes on perfectly curated social media post will never compare to real-life interaction, a meal, conversation, breaking of bread together and having a real-life face to face discussions.

Social media can connect us with those that live miles away and can disconnect us with those that live in the same postcode! I called a friend the other day and when she answered I had to reiterate that this was, in fact, a real phone call not a butt call. And I just wanted to chat. I was just checking in to connect. Using the phone to its full potential and making an actual phone call.

Let’s talk. Let’s converse. Let’s connect.

Pick up the phone and reach out. Disconnect from the world wide web and connect with someone you love. I know it sounds like a cheesy ad but please consider this a public service announcement.

We need each other. We need human interaction the real kind the let's do coffee kind, the pick up the phone and have an old fashioned yarn. Or be extraordinarily daring and post a card to someone you love to remind them that they are beautiful human beings.

Disconnect so that you can reconnect.