So why start a blog
During the depths of depression, my mind shuts up shop, my memory is weak and I struggle to work through the simplest tasks. I find I simply cannot break out of the cycle of dark thoughts washing around in ever decreasing circles.
So the reasons for starting a blog were simple. It was my attempt to synthesise the ramblings in my head and construct an escape route out of my mind.
In this state my capacity to reason and my creative impulses disappear and despite a strong internal drive to leave my depression behind, I simply cannot break out of the bleak darkness that envelopes me.
I now understand that a sense of powerlessness, caused by my inability to think clearly, prevents me from breaking out of the depression. Also I feel isolated and alone with only narrow, imperfect thoughts to keep me company.
Despite these issues I began to blog. In the beginning I had no idea who was reading my posts – if anyone at all. That didn’t matter. In fact, that suited me better as it was much less daunting not to know. It was much more about getting the words out than who might read them.
But as time passed my motivations for blogging changed. They have morphed from the simple act of articulating my thoughts to shining a light on mental health issues and using my experience to help others. And all the while I have learned some great new skills.
Developing my on-line competence is a process of trial and error. So far I have built a WordPress website (hosted on a new domain), set up Google Analytics and created an Amazon affiliate account. Each of these things can take a few days using YouTube and other on-line resources to learn as I go.
My new on-line life
I have also built a new on-line presence (@leighjohnsonnz) and engage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote my messages. It’s great fun learning and much to my delight I have found I am not alone.
I am amazed how many others people or groups are present on social media committed to helping others cope with mental health challenges.
One example is Jay Coulter, who with his wife runs ConquerWorry.org, a community set up to create awareness of the resources that are available to those who struggle with worry, stress or mental health. Jay had invited me to write a guest blog on his website and later he offered to connect over Skype so that I could learn more about building my on-line presence. A big thank you to Jay and his wife, Kris.
Aside from the bonus of making some great friends on-line, my blog has helped me to gain the courage to share my story with my own friends, colleagues and community. Talking about myself and admitting that I was not as strong or as capable as I used to be, was extremely difficult at first (as I write about here), however the feelings of shame and failure have lessened with time.
As you can see I am getting some very personal rewards out of the pain of the writing process. I do it to express my feelings and make a statement about who I am – and who I want to be. I do it to understand this condition and to talk about it openly. I do it to manage my vulnerabilities and to communicate them to others. I do it to build my strength.
Expand Your Knowledge
If you are like me and want to understand more about depression, I can recommend fantastic book by Andrew Solomon called The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. (See below.) The author’s articulate explanations tell his own often-harrowing story and that of many others. The book also brings together the research and treatment options available, uncovers the complexities of depression and offers reasons for hope.
Please take the time to expand your own knowledge. You never know if you, or someone you know, might experience issues with mental health. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t get stressed from time to time. When that happens, depression and anxiety might only be a shadow away.
Take care of yourself and others and please don’t be afraid to share your own knowledge and talk about mental health openly. For many of us, it’s just a normal part of life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please use the Comments form at the very bottom of this page.