I was driving to school the other day when a radio commercial came over the local radio. The commercial was from a state society for psychiatry. In the commercial, a man talks about recent events and how some very bad things have happened. (It was kind of referring to the recent terrorist attacks in different places of the world.) The narrator closes by advising us to be informed of what happens but to avoid the 24-hour news coverage about it, thus avoiding obsessing about it.
A little over six years ago, a cousin of mine was shot dead in his car. His death was very painful to all of us who knew him, and I can only imagine how painful it was for his parents and siblings. When it happened, I found myself seeking as much information as possible about the couple who committed the murder. They were caught, and their defense was that they were under the influence of narcotics and were looking for money to score more drugs. Killing my cousin was the result of a “robbery gone wrong.”
My obsession with those two was such that I sought information on them and their family. I followed the trial as close as I could since it was happening far from where I was. And I got some sense of justice when I heard that both of them were sentenced to long sentences for their crime. Still, it wasn’t enough to stop my obsession with the outcome of it all.
What finally ended that obsession was the realization that I was obsessed. Once I recognized that I was spending way too much time on something that was of no real value to me anymore, I cut it out. Today, I’m trying to do the same with the 24-hour news cycle over the recent shootings.
Sure, I’m very angry that these things are happening. In the case of the shooting in San Bernardino, California, I’m especially angry that it happened to a group of public health professionals. But there is really no value added into my life by obsessing about it and listening/watching the continuous coverage of it. It’s the same way with other sad news around me.
When I check to see the latest homicide counts for Baltimore City and Chicago for a side project I’m working on (and the blog posts you’ve read about those things), I stop at the case counts. I don’t go looking for more details about the deceased as a rule because, again, there is no value added to me knowing more about them at this time. Yes, it saddens me to see people my age and younger (sometimes half my age) throwing their lives away in killing others, or having no life at all in being killed. But that is about as much as I’m willing to invest mental capital at this time.
Nevertheless, knowing what Thesis 2.0 is going to entail, I’m getting myself ready to read up on some sad, sad stories of people who died — or will die — in Baltimore. For that, I am going to be chatting with a mental health counselor, and I will probably be writing a lot of blog posts that will never get published. Without such outlets for what I’m thinking, I would probably drive myself nuts thinking about all the hurt and all the loss that is going on in this city.
I wish everyone had the access to mental health services that I have.
So, yes, while I want to be informed about what goes on in the world, I don’t want to dwell on it. It’s not good for me. (Your mileage may vary.) Besides, there are things that need to get done between now and whenever I’m done here (as in “here in this world”), so why waste it on obsessions, worries, and other such things?
So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to worry about the thesis proposal. 🙂
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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