Monday, August 18, 2014

Blogging About Mental Illness - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly - Guest Blogger

Have you ever thought of blogging about mental illness or maybe you are a current blogger then I wonder if you have giving much thought to just why do you blog or why should I blog, or what can I expect if I blog and what type of reaction can I expect. Finally who is my target audience and is there any down side to blogging. Let’s look at some of these questions after all most of us bloggers wold never be blogging if it were not for our own mental illness or our experience of recovery

I suppose I have always being a blogger in one form or another as I have always noted my thoughts and stored them like someone packing for a vacation or a holiday. I was driving home early today and it was beautiful out, really warm and dry with the whole weekend ahead of me so I was feeling good and looking forward to making the best of this weather as we have had six continuous week of warm and sunny weather and I began to think about the reason I write between two or three blogs a week while waiting in traffic. It’s something I have never giving much thought to before so I’m going to do my best to analyses my motives and the process I use so I might better understand myself.

So why do I write my blogs in the first place?
My motive behind my writing is that I myself must find the subject interesting. If I do then I will make a start and I never worry about finishing it right through rather sometimes I like to go away and take a break and when I come back I still want to feel interested otherwise there is no point in writing in the first place. I also want to challenge my reader by making a statement that might be controversial and see how the readers react. 

I want to make a connection with the reader and when they say “hey I know exactly what you mean or how you’re feeling because I too have being there” this makes me proud that my post can mean that much to a complete stranger. 

I want to save others the pain I suffered by not knowing enough about my own illness and how it would affect me, what treatments there are and what part do I play in all this. I want my reader to know they are not alone. That what they are experiencing is completely normal for a person with a mental health problem. 

I want them to know that symptoms and sensations can be very distressing but that does not mean they are always dangerous. I want the reader to know that medication is not the only thing on offer to bring recovery or maintain mental wellbeing as there are many therapies as well as natural remedies to help a person recover from their mental illness

I want the reader to get to know me through my writings and to know it’s never too late to make a life for yourself no matter what your circumstances may be today.

So what is the process I use?
So at this stage I have picked a subject, one that I think will interest both you and me so I begin writing and let it flow. I never get writers block but I do have trouble sometimes phasing some sentences. Also if it were not for the spell checker then no one here would understand a word I’m saying. When my blog is finished I do a google search for an image that might suit the subject of my article. I never post it that day rather I wait at least a day and reread it multiply times while tweaking the wording and only then will I post my blog. I post my blog to twenty five google+ communities at the same time and then wait for people’s reaction.

What do I get out blogging? (The Good)
Well it helps me put down on paper some of the thing that often go through my mind. I find the interaction with my reader when they comment very insightful and rewarding. I love when others can connect with the subject matter of my blogs and share their own experience. Also there is no one who know everything about mental illness so we can all learn of each other. 

I get many 1+D for my blogs but it’s the comments that have more meaning, for me anyway. As soon as I have written a post I will wait until I have another topic before putting pen to paper but it’s not unusual for me to write three blogs at the same time but publish them one after another, off course with at least two days of a gap between each of them.

Is there a down side to blogging? (The Bad)
Yes there is a down side to blogging. First let me say that when I post my blog I am filled with fear about how the readers will react to the post. I also worry if my blog will cause offense to anyone. After all the audience I’m intending my blogs for is by definition a very sensitive one and I never know what each individual reader is going through at the time they read my blog as believe it or not it is much easier to hurt or irritate the reader without ever trying. 

I never mind a person pointing out something that might have hurt them or caused offense as long as they allow me the right of reply. This way I can explain that they were never in my thought when I wrote my article because by the time I post it, two or three days will have passed at the very minimum before posting. 

Another thing that can cause offense is the picture that often accompanies the blog themselves and this has happened to me twice in the last year. We all want to pick a picture that best matches our subject matter but in doing so we can cause offense without even being aware of how this occurred. Off course at this point then reassuring the person offended is all that really matters. They are more important than the blog itself. Every time I blog and post it in the communities then a little part of me is out there too so I can’t help worrying about how others will respond. I might add that I have being corrected, put in my place, educated, slated, rebuked and criticised in equal measure but that’s the risk a blogger takes by espousing themselves on line.

Would I recommend blogging to others? (The Ugly)
I would, to be honest but remember that the very audience we write for are a very sensitive bunch and we will never be able to cover every eventuality no matter how well-meaning we are as writers. Blogging helps clears the mind of thoughts such as guilt, regret, judgment, grieving, loneliness, isolation, hurt, abuse, stigma and can when done well even bring healing to others. Blogging is not going to change the world but you might find it changes your own mind before it will ever change others.

Never be afraid to exposé yourself as the more you do it the thicker a skin you will achieve. Only other bloggers know what this experience is like and we are exposing ourselves not for fame or notoriety but so that other mentally ill suffers will know they are not alone or are they forgotten. We want them to experience recovery just as many of us have experienced, we want to save them pain and suffering through ignorance and above all we want to break down stigma surrounding mental illness so that the next generation of suffers will be treated with compassion and understanding befitting a person enduring such a heavy burden.

Remember do not take offense by anything written as none was intended. Feel free to comment on your own experience with blogging on mental illness or if you have not done so yet would anything I have written here put you off. Sorry I told you it was sunny out and I’m off as I’m about to overheat at my laptop so take care and keep well my friends. Best wishes to all.

Written by Michael Groves

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