How do you know when you like Facebook too much? A Halifax writer says her “addiction” to the social network damaged her health, work and relationships, so she unfriended the site and wants to help others.

Sheree Fitch, a popular children’s author, says her cold-turkey breakup helped her regain control.  

“I’m in month one and there’s been some withdrawal,” she told the CBC’s Maritime Noon Monday. 

'There are some genuine moments of connection on Facebook. I'm going to miss that.'- Sheree Fitch

She first deactivated her account and then deleted it Sunday. As a writer who works alone and who was encouraged to use Facebook to promote her work, it was a “really good distraction.”

It filled in all the gaps in her day, leading to entire days spent in her chair. 

“I write because I want to connect. I think Facebook satisfied my need to connect easily and took away from my creative energy and drive,” she wrote on her blog. “The screen was a good friend and distraction when I did not want to face my own thoughts.”

Fitch says she loved Facebook too much, which led to a lifestyle that caused her to gain weight since joining in 2010.

“So it's time for a diet that includes a Facebook fast,” she said.

“I've done these temporarily from time to time. A few weeks. Once, almost a month. I had deadlines and the unplugging helped. It showed me that turning off was tuning in.” 

Fitch said the digital purge gave her more time to work on her novel and better hear the voice of the characters.

12 steps to Facebook freedom

Fitch created a 12-step program for unfriending yourself from Facebook:

Step One: Admit you are a Facebookaholic. (This happens when you stop defending why it's so important in your life. )

Step Two: Deactivate. (A day at a time.)  

Step Three: Tell a friend. (Who isn't into Facebook.)   

Step Four: Start a new project.

Step Five: Drink lots of water.

Step Six: Repeat: 'There's no party and I'm not missing out.'

Step Seven: Meditate.

Step Eight:  Mourn the loss of friends.

Step Nine: Run five kilometres a day. 

Step Ten: Tell folks you are sorry if you've ignored them.  

Step Eleven: Get stamps, write letters.  

Step Twelve: Listen to the quiet and your own thoughts. Then "Like" yourself mentally.  

Fitch says she misses the updates from family and friends, and not being able to "champion" other people's books and events. She also isn't totally done with Facebook.

"I found out you can actually download all the posts you ever made on Facebook. I'm going to print those out and read my Facebook for the last three years," she laughed. "It's not just superficial. There are some genuine moments of connection that happen on Facebook. I'm going to miss that." 

If you want to track her progress, you won’t find her on Facebook — but she’s still on Twitter.