The Highs And Lows Of Blogging About Mental Health

The Highs And Lows Of Blogging About Mental Health

Blogging about mental health can be very rewarding, but it’s not without its challenges.

The Cons of Blogging About Mental Health

Let’s get the not-so-great stuff out of the way first, shall we?

1. Some people expect you to have all the answers.

I’ve had people become angry at me in the past because I didn’t know how to “fix” their issues. I’d love to have all the answers, but mental health is a very personal thing. What works for me doesn’t always work for others.

I also have no training in treating mental illness. I talk openly and honestly about my experiences, but that’s as far as my knowledge goes. Having people message me while in crisis can be tricky and I don’t always know what to say. Though I remain grateful they’ve reached out, I do think it’s important to keep in mind that we may not be able to offer much assistance.

2. You feel a sense of responsibility.

Following on from that last point, you WANT to help as many people as you can. I’ve stayed up until all hours talking to people in the past because I wanted to make sure they were okay. That’s not healthy. It puts a huge strain on my own wellbeing, but I don’t want to shun away someone who is reaching out.

It’s really difficult not to feel pressure to be there for everyone. As we know how hard it can be to ask for help, we don’t want to do anything that could prevent someone from doing it again.

3. It’s draining.

There are times when doing a deep dive into your emotions just sucks the life out of you. We do it in the name of raising awareness, and helping others know they’re not alone. But there have certainly been posts I’ve written in the past where I’ve felt exhausted afterwards.

4. Some people think they know you. 

I share a lot with others, through both my blog and my social media. This openness can cause some people to think they know me inside and out. Their approach to me can be overly friendly. Sometimes, it’s pleasant enough, but other times can be uncomfortable.

The truth is that I am a very guarded person. I only share as much as I am comfortable with. There’s so much the internet doesn’t get to see. To know me properly takes A LOT of time.

5. Some people forget to ask how you are.

Again, I think being open causes some people to assume they know where you are at mentally. I mean, if I was going through a tough time, I would have said, right? It’s not necessarily true. Occasionally, I do the complete opposite and just avoid interaction as much as I can. People pop up in my direct messages and just get straight to whatever the reason is, without the courtesy of asking how I am. It’s not that I would divulge the inner workings of my mind to a total stranger (see the last half of point four) but it’s polite to ask in any case.

6. Comparison.

This is a universal struggle for all bloggers, but let’s take a look at it in the context of mental health blogging.

Some mental health bloggers choose to share every part of their journey – the highs, lows and all that’s in between. This isn’t what I do. I often don’t talk about the harder times until I’m through them. The reason for this isn’t that I don’t want people to know, but because I prefer to wait until my head is clearer to talk about it.

Every now and then, I start to question if this makes me bad at what I do. It makes me wonder if I’m feeding into the idea that there has to be a positive spin on mental illness. There doesn’t. Often, there isn’t. I worry that people will think I’m fake because I’m not saying every detail along the way.

Of course I’m not happy all the time, but I don’t choose to share that side of things with the internet as it’s happening. I talk about it with Neal, or I wait for it to pass. Once I’m through it, I am much more comfortable saying “it’s been a rough few days but I’m okay now!”

7. Some people expect you to only talk about mental health.

This applies to both your blog and general conversations. I’ve seen bloggers get a hard time because they wrote about something other than mental health. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. To link back to point three, it’s so tiring to ALWAYS be talking about mental health. Happy as we are to do it, it’s not all there is to us. We need the space to express ourselves about a whole number of other things, too.

My blog was born out of my struggles. Mental health will always have a place in it. I’ll always try to spread awareness and encourage others to talk about it. Be that as it may, I want the freedom to write about all sorts of things, which is why I seldom refer to myself as a “mental health blogger”. Those who do, though, shouldn’t be chastised if they decide to branch out a little!

8. Imposter syndrome.

For those who aren’t aware, imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern which creates fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

I don’t think this is necessarily exclusive to mental health bloggers, but writing about my mental health seems to be where this creeps in the most. It’s a bizarre thing when your mind starts saying things like “you’re not sick enough to talk about this.” And though I would never claim to have all of the answers, sometimes even offering advice from my own experiences make me think “what gives me the right to write any of this?”

9. It’s hard to monetise.

Now, this isn’t such an issue for me as my blog is much more general, but I wanted to include it as it’s something other mental health bloggers have brought to my attention.

I can’t stress enough that I don’t believe for a second that mental health bloggers get into it for this reason. Yet, I do think it’s unfortunate that there can be less options.

Having discussed this with a couple of people in the past, part of it is guilt or the prospect of shame from making a profit from other people’s struggles. I fully understand this, but I think it’s important to think of it as a mutually beneficial situation, rather than one-sided. If a blogger I like is offering something to help with my mental health and I have the opportunity to support them at the same time? That’s a good thing.

Sadly, I think there will always be people out there who want to twist it into something malicious and put you down for it. Be that from envy or misjudging you, it’s likely to happen. So, I’m going to paraphrase Matt Haig here, who I believe has been subjected to a bit of criticism about his books, and tweeted something along the lines of “there’s no shame in turning what is an awful situation into something that benefits you.”

If you want to monetise and you can find a way to do it, then I think you should. Loyal readers will appreciate it’s well-intentioned.

Roses, coffee and white sheet

The Pros of Blogging About Mental Health

The stuff that makes it all worthwhile.

1. Encouraging others to get help.

The first time someone messaged me to say they had arranged to see a counsellor because of me, I cried. It was such solid evidence that what I did mattered. I was so touched that they had taken the time to let me know, and became overwhelmed with emotions.

I’ve been fortunate to have a few more interactions like this since, and each one makes me feel so incredibly happy. Not only because it reminds me that I’m helping people, but because I know the other person is trying to get themselves out of a dark place.

When I shared these stories with my counsellor, she was quick to say “these are only the people you know about – your impact probably goes far beyond them”. It’s wonderful to think people could be reaching out as a consequence of what you do, whether they tell you about it or not.

2. You are a voice for others.

A lot of people don’t feel comfortable in sharing how they feel, or don’t know how to put it into words. Those of us who enjoy writing have an opportunity to put it out there in a way people understand. It can be helpful to make sense of their own feelings, or identify the best way to express it to their loved ones.

One of my most popular posts, What Does It Feel Like To Have Anxiety?, struck a chord with so many people. It was shared by people who wanted others to know exactly how it felt. I had individuals contact me to say that so much of what I’d said had resonated with them that they realised they needed to speak to a doctor. Using my voice meant others could find theirs.

3. Educating others.

Discussing your experiences gives others an insight into what life is like with a mental illness. This is so important to break down the stigma and create more compassion.

For example, changing the idea that being depressed means you’re sad all the time. In actual fact, people can struggle with high functioning depression. There are still symptoms to look out for, both in others and ourselves. Raising awareness of this encourages everyone to look a little deeper, rather than taking someone at face value and assuming everything is good in their life.

It gives people a platform to talk about lesser known mental illnesses, too. Though I had an awareness of other disorders, I’ve been given a much deeper insight into them from other bloggers. I only really knew the term “borderline personality disorder” but I’ve learnt so much about it since I started connecting with this community.

4. Connecting with people who understand.

I have read countless blog posts about depression and anxiety since I started and the comfort they have brought me is immeasurable. There were lots of symptoms of these illnesses which made me feel alien. Things I couldn’t do that everyone else made look so easy. Situations I felt like I should be able to handle.

Every time I read a post and think “wow, I could have written this!”, I am reminded that I’m not alone. That’s hugely important.

5. The community is inspiring.

Writing about mental health has brought some truly exceptional people into my life. Reading their stories is so moving. Their resilience, their determination and their courage is incredible.

These are people who are fighting every day. They keep pushing forward. They’re driven to bettering the lives of others and reducing the stigma around mental health. It’s a pleasure to witness and wonderful to be a part of it.

The majority of people are also very supportive, not only with your mental health journey, but your blogging one, too. It’s nice to know you have people rooting for you.

6. It’s a good outlet.

Having somewhere you can go and write about things is a great way to get it off your mind. I’m not always comfortable speaking about what’s going on in my head, but I’m happy enough to write about it. I don’t always publish what I write, but blogging has helped to create this habit of expression.

Rather than keeping your emotions bottled up, you have somewhere you can go and just let it all out.

7. You can explore your own feelings.

Writing about certain things has brought up new thoughts and approaches for me, on more than one occasion. The process of putting it all out there and working through it allows you to identify things that maybe weren’t so clear previously.

I’ve had similar lightbulb moments while blogging as I did while attending counselling, which is great. Gaining that clarity is invaluable.

 

Now, you may be thinking, “hold on, there’s more cons than pros? Why do you do it?”. For me, it comes down the fact that the pros hold more weight. They are much more valuable reasons. What blogging about my mental health has given me is wonderful. Though it has its flaws, they’re not enough to stop me because the good things motivate me much more.

Blogging about mental health can be daunting. You are opening up and being vulnerable. It’s nerve-wracking, especially the first few times. Though it does get easier, I still find myself hovering over the “publish” button. I do believe, however, that the pros outweigh the cons. They are what keep me going. So, blogging about mental health is not easy… but it is worth it.

The Highs And Lows Of Blogging About Mental Health

The Pros And Cons Of Blogging About Mental Health
Why Blogging About Mental Health Is A Gift And A Curse
Why Blogging About Mental Health Is A Gift And A Curse

18 Comments

  1. 25th February 2019 / 11:52 am

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Ruth. There are so many others who will connect with what you have to say.
    As writers and bloggers, becoming vulnerable takes courage. That vulnerability also means we help ourselves become less fearful and help others as they gain confidence that they are not alone in their feelings or experiences.
    I find that the more I share, the less I am caring about others reactions or opinions to my writing. It is a liberating experience.
    I would also encourage bloggers and writers to mix up their writing. You are right, when we delve so deeply it can be painful and exhausting. Also if we are focused on the past or our feelings all of the time an unhealthiness creeps in. We need time to live in the moment, to do what brings us joy and to allow healing.
    Thanks for sharing your post and keep spreading the joy
    x Shelley

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      27th February 2019 / 9:52 am

      You are absolutely right, Shelley – on all fronts! There are things I’ve written about recently which I know I wouldn’t have when I first started writing because I was so caught up in what others might think or say. Thank you for your brilliant comment!

  2. 25th February 2019 / 12:46 pm

    Another great post, Ruth. I feel as though I don’t know where I fall in terms of blogging, but obviously I write primarily about my mental health, so I guess that’s that. It’s definitely difficult but like you I do find it rewarding and it’s been really beneficial for my own health. Keep doing what you do, and take care of yourself 👍

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      27th February 2019 / 9:53 am

      Thanks Lindsay! I’m glad it’s been rewarding for you and has helped you as well, especially as you do it so well. 🙂

  3. 25th February 2019 / 5:45 pm

    Great post, Ruth! This is so informative and I’m sure you’ll help many people with your words 🙂

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      27th February 2019 / 9:53 am

      Thank you!

  4. 25th February 2019 / 5:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing these points!! Those are all unfortunate low points but what’s a good thing without the negatives, eh? There are so many good yet bad things about blogging but we just have to try our best not to highlight the negatives too much and just keep doing what we do best! 💗

    Geraldine | https://geraldinetalks.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      27th February 2019 / 9:53 am

      Exactly! 🙂

  5. Sheila Anderson
    25th February 2019 / 7:49 pm

    Yet again a very thought provoking blog! I love that your able to articulate so well what you have been going through! I know I am your mum how ever I am immensely proud of you Ruthio! Sending you lots of love hugs and prayers love from the Mothership! XXOO 😘😘😘💖💖🌟

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      27th February 2019 / 9:54 am

      Thank you, Mum! You’re the best!! 🙂

  6. 26th February 2019 / 1:16 am

    As a beginning mental health blogger who also blogs about other topics as well, I agree to much of what you write. I also don’t always right about a difficult situation until I’ve made it through the other side. But I don’t really feel bad about it. I think it’s somewhat analogous to a therapist who sees patients all day but doesn’t tell those patients about their problems. They go see another therapist for that.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      27th February 2019 / 9:55 am

      That’s true! I’m learning to fill less bad about it and realise it’s the healthiest way for me personally to deal with it, but I guess I get caught up in what everyone else is doing once in a while.

  7. 26th February 2019 / 10:28 am

    I LOVE this post. Blogging about mental health is the best thing I’ve ever done, frankly – but that doesn’t meant that it’s easy. I always knew, when I started out, that I wouldn’t solely blog about mental health because eventually I’d reach a place where I just couldn’t give so much of myself every time I sat down to write. It’s draining & emotional & totally worth it – but sometimes it is nice to sit down and write about something else. All your posts have such power & sunshine behind them, that I’m totally on board with whatever you want to write. I totally get the comparison & imposter syndrome thing though, especially when I’ve been having a more stable time. It’s so hard not to look at what other people are doing & going through .& feeling like you don’t belong & your story doesn’t have meaning – but it always will, because everyone’s story is unique & we can all learn a little something from each other.

    Cordelia || cordeliamoor.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      27th February 2019 / 9:58 am

      Ah, you are just the best, Cordelia! It definitely takes a lot of energy to write those kind of posts and I have so much admiration for you for doing it so well. Your last sentences in that comment just sum it all up so beautifully. 🙂

  8. 26th February 2019 / 1:08 pm

    This is a really insightful post, Ruth. I always admire those who are open and honest about their mental health journey, it is such a brave and inspiring thing to do. I know that when I was struggling, I felt encouraged to speak to my doctor about what I was going through, as hearing others stories and experiences made me feel less alone and normal. I know what you mean though, being online can be such a vulnerable feeling and I imagine even more so when you are sharing things which are so personal to you. I think you do a wonderful job, blogging really is a mix of highs and lows, but I’m glad the positives outweigh the challenges 🙂 <3 xxx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      27th February 2019 / 10:00 am

      Thank you, Bexa, I really appreciate that! I think being SO open is just such a huge contrast to how I am as a person that I can find it quite unsettling, but I know it’s important so that’s why I continue. I’m glad you felt encouraged to speak to the doctor after hearing other people’s stories because it’s such an important step in coming out of a dark time. 🙂

  9. 9th March 2019 / 9:33 am

    I love this post, you hit the nail on the head for me! It’s hard talking about your low points, and at the moment I feel like I’ve got nothing to write about because my life is going well! 😣

    But having said that, I’ve managed to speak to so many people through my writing and offer support over social media, and helping other people manage their mental health makes it all worth it.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      13th March 2019 / 3:56 pm

      Exactly! I definitely have a lot less to say when I’m feeling okay. Even though it can be hard to write about the harder times, it comes more freely whereas I get a bit blocked when I’m having a good stretch. But I’m glad to know things are going well for you and you are absolutely right about that making it all worthwhile. 🙂

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