Why I blog about mental illness and trying to be pathetically brave

I posted a quote earlier today written by Alastair Campbell, and believe me I know he’s a seriously controversial figure, but I wanted to highlight another small portion of his writing that really does encapsulate the essence of why I blog about mental illness so often; and more importantly, why I try to be as open as possible with my own personal struggles:

In answering, I sought to convey that though my experience was an extreme one, it was nonetheless born in the kind of despair and negative self-doubt that all of us may know, because in this context at least, we really are all in this together.

At the time, it helped to hear of others who had been through such experiences and survived. It is partly because I know others are experiencing the same thing now, that I talk about it so freely. I hope it helps. It certainly helps me. Talking is therapy.

I feel exactly the same.

Regular readers will know that in trying to be as open as possible, I don’t tend to ramble on about my own particular diagnosis, ongoing treatment, etc, as for one I wouldn’t want to bore you to tears, and secondly, I tend to view all types of mental illness and personality disorders as one homogeneous mass; incorporating many overlapping difficulties, pressures, stigmas and so forth.

I know that I’ve touched on this issue before, but I need to get this off my chest. I have found it difficult to talk openly about this recently, because of the pernicious tactic of using my mental health issues against me.

It’s something that has been happening online with increasing frequency lately, and I’m not here to cite examples, blame folks, engender sympathy, or anything like that. Suffice it to say the general tone seems to be one of attempting to discredit me, because I have mental health problems.

I’m posting this to simply share my struggle with you – especially for you praying types – and to in a sense try to embolden myself, remind myself why I do this, and to say publicly that I will never EVERĀ  respond to such comments, emails, DM’s and so on.

Many of you have shared with me your own personal journeys and struggles and it’s for you guys – as well as for myself – that I do this.

Particular thanks goes to a much braver soul than me and that is Lisa Graas over in the States, who blogs fearlessly on the topic of her mental health struggles – even this very morn – and I do wish I had half her courage; she is an ongoing inspiration to me.

I think we have to step up to the plate and bring to light the tactics used to perpetuate mental health stigma and shame.

We’ve got to try to be as open and as brave as possible on the issue of mental illness, regardless of the consequences and loss of reputation; if we sufferer’s don’t do it, nobody’s gonna do it for us.

And I need to be a braver.

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14 Responses to “Why I blog about mental illness and trying to be pathetically brave”

  1. Simian Says:

    Stuart, You might like to check out the video on the ‘Time To Change’ website, at: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/about
    I found it really quite inspirational and encouraging.

    The ‘Time To Change’ organisation (which is very well funded), is responsible for trying to reduce mental health stigma across the UK, but until it was mentioned at a Mental Health conference I attended a couple of weeks ago I had never heard of it. I did a straw poll of the audience and less than a quarter had, despite the fact that we were all either mental health practitioners, sufferers, or technologists involved with mental health (some of us all three!). Extraordinary! Had you come across it?

  2. webmaster Says:

    Well, talk about great and minds and all that. I was just thinking about them and sent them a Tweet.

    I wholeheartedly support their excellent work.

    I should have mentioned them in the post, but now we have done so!

    Hey, as I say this, they just Tweeted me support:

    https://twitter.com/#!/TimetoChange/statuses/192229004382699520

    Wow.

  3. Hazel Edmunds Says:

    A friend of mine was fully open with her employer about her mental health problems – and ended up having to pay more on employer sponsored health insurance.

  4. Simian Says:

    Great minds indeed! ;-)

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s experience Hazel. That’s exactly why it’s so important for everyone to get this out in the open, so that employers realise how commonplace this is, and so that this kind of discrimination can be done away with.
    My own experience with the organisation I work for has been nothing but positive. They were incredibly supportive, and continued to pay my salary whilst I was ill, beyond the point at which they were legally required so to do. And they were very careful to ensure that I had a sensible graduated return to work. Their view is that it is much more cost effective to get a valued employee back to being productive again than it is to recruit and train someone new. I in turn am determined to prove to them that they made the right decision. We need to get these positive messages out there.

  5. webmaster Says:

    What a fantastic report about your employer Simian. How encouraging is that!

  6. Roger Pearse Says:

    The web is getting nastier, isn’t it?

  7. webmaster Says:

    I really do believe it has Roger.

    It’s become a bear pit where folk feel they can say literally anything to anyone.

    And perhaps they can……

  8. Ben Trovato Says:

    I think you’re brave already, Stuart. Lifting your head above the parapet in the current climate!… And as you say, so important to stop this being taboo, to keep the conversation going and report both difficulties and triumphs…

  9. webmaster Says:

    Thanks Ben that means a lot :)

  10. Blogging About My Mental Illness: It’s That Identity Thing Again Says:

    [...] Stuart writes: Why I blog about mental illness and trying to be pathetically brave. [...]

  11. Gillan Says:

    This is such a valuable thing to be talking about Stuart. Awareness is such an important aspect of mental illness. The more we understand, the less we assume that it is a nasty ogre that we should all be scared of. I’m sure it’s more common than people realise too.

    You’ll win more friends than enemies by doing this. Thank you.

  12. webmaster Says:

    Thanks for that encouragement Gillan. Means a great deal.

  13. Roger Pearse Says:

    It’s not just that people feel they can say anything — they always did. The troll is not a new figure. But there wasn’t any real malice in that.

    What is different now is the sustained malice. No-one went and deliberately posted material designed to upset grieving parents after a child’s suicide; we were all above that kind of thing. Nor jeering at a victim of their own bullying after the victim killed themselves.

    The criminal element is now online, and it shows. Those for whom other people are just meat.

  14. webmaster Says:

    I already knew how you felt about this from reading your blog Roger and tried to think the best. But you know what, recently, I have personally observed such monsters, that I utterly concur.

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