Forward Living: An addiction calls and she answers

We’ve all heard that absence makes the heart grow fonder and from personal experience I can attest to this truth. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve succumbed to a “fatal attraction” type of thing. I’m obsessively, deeply and passionately in love. And I don’t need a therapist to tell me it’s unhealthy.

I’m more or less a common-sense type of gal; however, I plummeted over the edge with this one. Ya think it’s some guy, right? Wrong! I don’t do “fatal attraction,” but this may be just as bad. Folks, I go wacko when my smartphone isn’t within reach. 

I was driving to work during the god-awful but necessary construction on Main Road. I was at a dead stop for about 12 minutes when I realized I was going to be late. I was about to call my employer when I glanced at the Bluetooth connection on the dashboard. It read: “No phone connected.”

A drumbeat of panic began to escalate, causing my pulse rate to go berserk. As I frantically rummaged though my purse, my brain flashed a picture of my cell phone patiently waiting for me on my desk at home. The impulse to turn back and retrieve it was overpowering. I didn’t; however, my day was definitely on the skids.

When I got to work, I felt totally out of sync. I work with the geriatric population at a lovely assisted-living facility. Folks, I tried, I really did. I tuned in to their needs. I led them in exercise, a singalong, read to them and played bingo. The whole time, I felt like I was missing an appendage.

Just to be clear, I rarely use my phone at work. But during a break or a quiet time, I will glance at it to check for messages and emails. (C’mon, we all do it!) I operate a medical billing service from home and at the end of my shift I check my phone for downloads. If there’s a lot of work, I head straight home. If not, I spend time lollygagging around my favorite haunts.

This particular day, I experienced something akin to withdrawal. I felt grumpy, disoriented and heading toward the slippery slope of depression. “What if” thinking reigned: What if I was missing an important message? The world is in flux, what if (fill in the blank)? Worse still, what if one of my adult sons needs me? I mean, really, kids — even adult kids — need their moms, don’t you think? (Be honest, moms!)

I began fixating on my behavior: What if I was a technology junkie? What if I have a love addiction? Lordy, lordy! Maybe I have both. I’ve read that techie and love addictions have physiological and physical symptoms comparable to addicts trying to quit smoking or drugs.

In the same article, a techie addiction is described as “information deprivation disorder.” I haven’t run across this diagnosis while coding, but there must be some truth in it. With love addictions, the mind and body are detoxing from an addictive relationship. Although I’ve never been “love addicted” (OK, maybe a tad infatuated), my behavior was disconcerting.

By quitting time, I was feeling nauseous and a headache was making itself known. I had errands to run, but the urge to get home to check my messages was all-consuming. A confessed control freak, the idea that I was spiraling out of control and held captive by obsessive thoughts sent shivers down my spine. I started to deep-breathe.

Rational Ceil gained control. I continued my errands, albeit in a state of anxiety. When I checked my messages, nothing catastrophic had occurred — except for the “what if” stories my overactive mind had manufactured.

Despite the chaos and dysfunction not having my phone caused, I’m thinking of unplugging for a day or two just to prove that I can.

Hmm. Never mind, who am I kidding? It’s never gonna happen!

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.