Between old favorites, catching up on just-released seasons, and the (many) highly anticipated Netflix shows, it’s not difficult to see why we all binge. I can’t think of a single person who doesn’t binge watch in some form, whether it be Netflix, Hulu, channel-specific websites, Prime, or illegal streaming.

Some people consider “binge watching” as watching 2-6 episodes in one sitting. I don’t know about you but I definitely fall on the higher end of that range. Heck, us serious binge-watchers consider 2 episodes weak, pathetic, disappointing.

But isn’t that part of the problem?

For years now I’ve been reading articles about this or that study, all of them indicating there’s a correlation between depression and more time spent on social media. That’s not to say that one causes the other, it’s to say there’s a relationship between the two. It’s impossible to say that depressed people go on social media more or if social media causes depression, but we know social media can strongly affect depressed individuals. Can’t the same be said for watching TV shows and movies in excessive quantities?

I know all the reasons why Netflix (and similar sites) is attractive. I’ve lived through them.

I know the desperation to leave my reality, just for a little while. To experience someone’s adventures, to laugh with them, to feel. It’s a better world, a world where justice works differently. I love the idea of a clean-cut ending, a solution that may is not perfect but feels right enough to be real.

I know the screaming silence of depression. The debilitating tiredness that comes along with it. I know the emptiness, the hunger for more. I know it all. And I know the satisfaction binge-watching can bring. Or at the very least, the distraction.

But I also know the consequences. I call them withdrawals. I know the devastating moment I have to come back to my life. When self-hatred I get when I realize that my reality is nowhere near as interesting, my love life is not picture-perfect like my favorite fictional relationships. I don’t have a neat resolution. Life is messy, and no amount of TV is going to fix that.

I want to be clear about something. I don’t watch the credits role at the end of a series and think “Why can’t my life be like that? Why aren’t I as attractive/smart/clever/popular as the main character? Is my relationship flawed because we don’t act like XYZ?” I rarely actually have those thoughts. I just feel this intense sadness within me.

A rebound sadness in a way. Like my sadness had been growing all along and I just didn’t feel it until the euphoria of escape had faded.

It took a lot of introspection to realize that Netflix was stealing the little bits of me I had left. As a depressed person, I don’t have a lot of happiness left. That’s something I’ve come to terms with and am actively fighting to get back. It seems really counter-intuitive to sit back and give up what I have worked so hard to get.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Netflix. I’ve just started learning moderation. I’ve realized that I need to lead my own life and I challenge myself to find something exciting in my reality – rather than in fiction.

I’m not asking you to give up Netflix (unless you feel like you need to). I’m asking you to look for your life, fight for it back. You can put up your favorite show but multi-task it. Pick up a sketchbook or canvas, incorporate some exercise into your TV-watching, take the time to groom your pet (if possible), just do something for you.

I won’t sit here and list out 101 reasons why you should take this advice. I’ve got only one and I think it’s worth the equivalent.

  1. Get your life back, because you deserve it. You deserve to live a wonderful life – but you’re going to have to go out there and get it.

I believe in you. I know you’ve got it in you. And don’t worry, there’s a lot of us struggling right there with you.