If I’m honest, I have been avoiding this blog over the past couple of weeks.
A certain amount of it has been down to the exhaustion and apathy that comes with a downward trend in my mood, making even the simplest or previously most enjoyable tasks seem impossible and pointless.
But it’s not just that.
In the last few months there have been several occasions where I have been forced to acknowledge that the blogging world and the ‘real’ world aren’t as separate as I though they were and the two colliding can have consequences.
On the first occasion I attended a meeting at my workplace about returning after a period of sick leave. I knew that the meeting was quite serious and would include not just my line manager but a representative from Human Resources and I’d been reminded that I could have a union representative with me if I wished. What I didn’t expect was to be presented with a printout of my entire blog, sections of which were then read to me. The conclusion of the meeting was that I wasn’t in trouble or facing any kind of disciplinary action but that my blogging about work, no matter how well I protected my identity and those I wrote about, was misguided and somewhat foolish in light of the potential consequences. As I left the meeting, biting my tongue hard enough to draw blood in an attempt to stop tears of embarrassment falling I was ready to go home and delete my entire blog.
It took a few days but eventually the Northern One managed to convince me that because I got so much out of blogging it would be a shame to abandon it. So I continued blogging and attempting to get to grips with the various social media accounts associated with this blog, until the second time the two worlds collided.
This second occasion involved discovering that not only had someone close to me had read my blog but that they was absolutely furious about, and completely disgusted by some of the things I had written. The things they said about me and this blog had me in floods of tears and for weeks afterwards even thinking about it made me feel faint and physically sick.
Thinking about it now still makes my stomach clench and my head start to spin.
On this blog I share some of the most painful and shameful experiences of my life, partly as a form of therapy for myself but also to try and show anyone experiencing similar difficulties in their lives that they are not alone. I share the intimate details of life with depression and anxiety, experiencing a degree of release and relief in sharing. I grew up in a house where talking about mental health issues was not encouraged and instead things were firmly swept under the carpet and expected to remain there.
I have written several different posts about my mum and the impact some of her actions have had upon me. Although we never really talked about it I know that my mum has attended counselling, taken antidepressants on more than one occasion and also stopped taking those antidepressants without first consulting her GP. I remember the days when I was little and she turned into a zombie, spending days at a time speaking in a monotone and refusing physical contact of any kind.
When I first started blogging I was aware that anything I wrote would be published on the internet where anyone could read it, which might include people I knew personally. However, I didn’t anticipate how sick and guilty a negative take on my blog would make me feel, particularly when I realised how hurt and angry they were despite my intention never being to upset them.
Their verdict upon the things that I write about was fairly damning; in particular the sentiment that writing this blog is akin to wallowing in self-pity and that I would have a far better chance of recovery if I stopped dwelling on the aspects of my life that I find the most difficult. My recent struggles with self-harm were deemed to be incredibly selfish, particularly as I am now a mother.
They were also appalled that I thought mum had mental health issues and the fact that I had shared it with the world (despite there being no way to identify mum) was completely unforgivable. Equally, my public speculation that my paternal grandmother also struggled with her mental health (despite my dad voicing similar thoughts) was shameful and that I had no right to write such things because they simply weren’t true.
Despite these events being several months ago, my blog continues to suffer as a result. I’ve looked back over old posts and second-guessed myself, wondering whether the things I’d written were actually true or whether I had somehow imagined that things had happened and that I was more of a despicable person than I first thought. My new posts have been sporadic and in some cases, half finished when a schedule post has published itself and I’ve just not been able to bring myself to fix it. Even the thought of blogging has the ability to make me feel sick with panic and I’ve considered abandoning the blog altogether so that nothing like that can ever happen again.
But as things currently stand, this blog is one the few things in my life that I can still be proud of. It’s something that I’ve created and maintained completely on my own and everything contained within it is entirely my own work. Due to my mental health I currently don’t have a job and this has left me feeling even more lost than I already did. Blogging gives me purpose, enabling me to feel as though I’ve achieved something beyond just trying to make it through each day. It’s also a lifeline helping to keep me in the here and now, helping me to form relationships with people who genuinely want to be there for me during my darkest hours.
So here I am, still writing and hoping that people are still reading.
Hoping that I haven’t let everyone down as badly as I think I have.
As difficult as it’s been, I’m not ready to give up blogging yet.