Monday, January 10, 2011

Question of the Week: Do You Watch the Evening News?

KMAX-TV news van set with the old UPN colors c...Image via Wikipedia
I know this might seem like a strange question.

Let me start by saying that my answer to this question is "No." and fibromyalgia is the reason.

Like many others, I experience cognitive symptoms related to fibromyalgia. One such symptom is finding myself getting overstimulated by the sights, sounds and events in my environment. Examples are:
  • the stereo or TV being turned up too loud
  • the plethora of merchandise on the grocery store shelves
  • groups of people together in one place
  • traffic on the streets during rush hour
  • bright sunlight
  • police and fire department sirens and lights
  • loud, unexpected noises, like a car backfiring
When faced with these situations, it's like my brain gets overwhelmed by all the input and loses some of it's ability to filter things out, prioritize what is important, assess the danger level and an appropriate response and determine what needs to be the focus of my attention. Instead of ignoring some of the stimuli, my brain tries to focus on everything and becomes overloaded in the process.

Unfortunately, the evening news on the TV also falls into this category.

Now I'm not sure exact how many stories get covered in the average newscast, but it is definitely enough to get my brain overwhelmed and overloaded. Plus the emphasis on reporting so much bad news, much of it violent and disturbing in nature, has the effect of revving me up when I should be trying to relax and wind down from the day.

So a few years back, my hubby and I cut the news out of our TV watching.

Sadly, the tragic events in Arizona over the weekend reminded me once again why skipping the news is a good idea for me. Watching an early broadcast on Sunday evening, with so many reporters covering every tragic aspect of the story, reminded me how intense and brain saturating the news can be. The repetition of the story,
over and over again, just made my brain go haywire.

My heart goes out to everyone involved. However, for my sake and health, I don't need to know every little detail and get caught up in the news media tornado generated in response to these kind of events. The bottom line: it is all just too much for my brain to handle.

Have you stopped watching the TV news too?
I invite you to share your experiences with brain over-stimulation and sensory overload related to your chronic illness. Feel free to leave your comments here or over at the Oh My Aches and Pains Facebook page.

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Jennifer said...

I tend to get my news from the Internet now - it seems that since I can click on one article at a time and take my time with each story, it works out better sometimes. I guess it allows me to feel more in control of how quickly information comes in? I don't know, but needless to say, I don't watch TV news much these days.

In addition, I get overstimulated by many of the things you do. Too many people talking to me at once makes me feel like a computer must feel when it's just about to crash...LOL ;) I also find loud TV or radio to be "too much." Also, and I don't know if anyone else find this to be true, but I do - I find the quality of the light in a room can affect me intensely. What I mean is this - think about the difference in the "color" of the light coming from a regular lightbulb and the the color of the light coming from a fluorescent light. The fluorescent light really bothers me - I need to have "softer" lighting around me. Of course, fluorescents can buzz, which is beyond annoying for me.

Rosemary Lee said...

Loud noises, bright lights really bother me. I even wear my sunglasses when I go to the gym. Crowds bother me. My TV isn't real loud either..

Krista said...

So it's just not me, going crazy!!! Weeee, I'm thrilled to learn this. Over stimulation and fibro can go hand in hand. I've stopped going to the grocery store because it was so incredibly over whelming. I have 5 kids, coming and going with the older two. But dinner time is ridiculous! Little kids are hungry before the bigs get home. Bigs demand food right away. I have one picky eater. I had turned into a short order cook for two hours. The bickering, the sheer volume of noise with five, it just became so overwhelming, I had to stop. Dad does dinner for the kids while I rest upstairs. Then we eat later, if I feel like eating.

I'm just so happy to learn I'm not alone in overstimulation!!

This is why I adore your blog. It has helped me so much. I'm in my 7th year of suffering and finally was diagnosed in November.

Thank you again for being honest and sharing your tips!